After she bought the house, there was a month of newness, of fresh, invigorating possibility, the feeling of Yes, why had she ever doubted? It is possible to begin again.
She spackled the cracked corner of the claw-foot tub and hooked her dangling earrings between the yarns of a crocheted wall hanging by the bed. She placed an antique blue enameled ladle on a windowsill, alphabetized the bookshelves, and felt breathless at each new gesture that proclaimed that this, finally, was the way to live, to make living livable. Decorative, organized, everything would be beautiful; everything would have its place. She drank wine now from the good crystal glasses, which she kept threateningly close to the cupboard’s ledge.
But even after the house was settled, each object given its own private home within the greater home that housed her, the yard remained a dustbowl. Summer arrived, and its view of frazzled grass pressed in against the windows. She could have planted yucca or nasturtiums, cacti, rosemary… those plants that thrive anywhere and everywhere, tenacious and willfully ignorant of where they live. She could have, and yet she didn’t. Surely this house, with its lonely perfection, would not be her last beginning. The dry, dirt yard left room, always, for improvement. With a little work, her evenings could be scented by night blooming jasmine. She could butter bowls of fresh-picked, pink-stemmed rainbow chard. Next year, maybe, she would throw a packet of California poppy seeds over the yard, a spray like scattershot that once rooted, would engulf the house in flames.