Marigold gazed out from the balcony of her third floor apartment admiring the clear blue sky over the city. She felt good. Today was special: the sky in her head was blue too. She moved along the row of window boxes and pretty-painted flower pots, carefully watering the plants in each with a pink plastic watering can; she spoke to them as she went.
‘Hello my lovely. You must be thirsty. Don’t worry I won’t let those nasty black-fly eat you up.’
Marigold was especially proud of her “Geranium Garden.” A collection of long flowering, colour co-ordinated varieties she’d nurtured over several years. The roots had grown very big and this spring she’d had to re-pot them into a large re-constituted stone planter. It was so heavy, it took two men from the garden centre to carry it onto the balcony.
‘There you go my darlings,’ she cooed, ‘my friends. My saviours.’
Marigold liked to keep the pots in an orderly line on the balcony’s marble balustrade. She stood back and scanned the line of containers. She frowned and with some effort, carefully edged the pot of Geraniums three centimetres forward.
‘You out there watering those God-verdomme flowers again? Where’s my fokking breakfast?’
The sound of Koen’s voice brought clouds into Marigold’s sky. ‘It’s quarter to twelve, Koen. It went cold. I’ll make you a fresh one, dear.’ Her heart quickened and she touched her cheekbone: damaged enough to hurt, but not enough to show. She caught her breath and the sharp pain reminded her of the fist-size bruise just below her left breast.
‘Don’t bother. I’ll get something at Pauline’s.’
Marigold nodded and turned her attention to the Geraniums, gently pushing them another centimetre forward.
Koen stepped onto the balcony. Marigold smelled his familiar odour; tobacco, stale alcohol and cheap perfume.
‘You stommen fish-wife. All you do is fiddle with those rot-verdomme flowerpots. How many times have I told you, they’re too near the edge? You’ll kill somebody one of these days.’
Marigold smiled at her man. ‘They’re alright, Koen. Quite safe.’
‘Fuck you. . . . I’m off out.’
Marigold returned to her pot-plants. How could she have married such a pig as this man from Amsterdam? The Dutch are such good people. And yet this one? Just my luck. He was so charming twenty years ago with his cute accent and blonde hair. So tall! Pity how he changed when he realised how the English girls were charmed by his foreign good looks and the English men by his jovial joshing in the pub. He doesn’t even try to hide his conquests anymore. Lost in these thoughts, she pushed the Geraniums another centimetre forward.
The sound of Koen leaving jerked her back to reality. She listened to his footsteps as he descended the three flights of stairs and opened the foyer doors below. Marigold kissed one of the bright red blooms goodbye.
‘Just one more centimetre.’
Keith has been writing his take on noir and pulp for a couple of years. He has stories published in the last three Radgepacket “Industrial fiction” antholgies (Volumes 3,4 and 5) and two in Radgepacket on-line. His stories can also be found in Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers. Currently he’s working on a novel. He’s a Brit living in Belgium, and he has nothing against Dutch people.