Sunday 22 January 2017

The Patio

Roger Noons


a glass of home-made lemonade

My mother and brother giggle on the patio. They are ignoring me as I stare from the hammock slung between the apple tree and the holly. I remember my father creating that crazy-paved area where they sit with their fancy tumblers and the jug of home-made lemonade. I helped him break up the slabs which had previously been a boring rectangle of grey, an area to collect leaves during the autumn.

    Dad arranged the fragments of two inch thick concrete and with me mixing the sand and cement, gradually filled in the joints. Here and there he left spaces in which, after filling with rich, well-rotted compost, he planted roses. My father loved roses, but never allowed a stem to be picked from the bush. He favoured the long established varietals, ones that had a scent. Ena Harkness, Peace and Orangeade were his favourites. He was not a skilled gardener, but roses being his passion, he studied and learnt how to cultivate them and each summer produced many beautiful blooms.

    It was always a topic for discussion between my parents, leaving the flowers on the bush. After I had gone to bed on warm summer nights I would hear their arguments. My mother’s common sense case against my father’s emotions. 

    It was late August, a Friday. Unusually for me, I was downstairs and ready for breakfast at eight o’ clock. My mother stood in the kitchen, her face wet with tears, her hands wringing a tea towel.

    ‘He’s gone,’ she announced.

    Embarrassed, I looked away. On the window ledge there was a slim-necked vase containing a single stem of Peace. My draw dropped.

    ‘Look outside,’ my mother whined.

    I stepped through the doorway and saw that the roses had been slashed. Every stem, even those without a bud or bloom lay on the patio. Petals were scattered across the entire surface. They appeared to have been stamped on, rubbed to confetti by a grinding, heavy boot.

    ’And he won’t be coming back,’ my mother added as she came to stand alongside me. ‘I only picked the one,’ she snivelled. ‘It smelled so ...’

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