Perpetual Spinach

Perpetual Spinach

After the breakup, she couldn’t stop thinking about the spinach.

They had planted it together on a seductively mild February afternoon. The way he had put his hand on hers to guide it as she sprinkled the seeds into the little trenches they’d made. Perpetual Spinach. It had felt like some kind of charm against the future.

Mid-morning on a Tuesday. He would surely be at work – and yes, the empty driveway confirmed it. She pulled up opposite and took the bucket, fork and gardening gloves from the boot of her Clio. Powered by fairy dust. She’d bought that sticker almost just to spite him. In those final days she’d somehow become a caricature of herself she thought as she strolled casually down the drive and through the little gate to the back garden.

It was July and everything was alive and buzzing. The lawn was verdant. Verdant. She could still hear the word bouncing from his mouth.

The hydrangea was starting to come out and looked to be the pretty faded blue he had hankered after. She remembered the weeks of ground coffee, eggshells and lemon peel collected in a bowl by the kitchen window. Hydrangea flowers wanted to be a garish pink he had said, but with careful attention and patience you could have them bloom an ethereal silver-blue. She could kick it to pieces. But no, deep breaths, she had come for the spinach.

Of course Perpetual Spinach wasn’t actually spinach but a type of chard. He had informed her of that one evening when she had mentioned looking forward to trying “the spinach”. She imagined him polishing a wine glass and holding it up to the light to inspect it.

Real spinach or not, there is was, in the raised bed along the back wall. It was thriving. Verdant. She knelt down, put on the gloves he had bought her (genuine leather trim, ladies fit) and began to dig, sliding each plant carefully from the soil, placing it in the bucket beside her. She wasn’t sure if she would eat it or simply dispose of it, but it wasn’t staying here, with him.

A sweep of silk along the small of her back made her jump. Nigel. He came purring and head-bumping his way round her crouched form. She scratched him behind his ginger ears and he tipped himself over in bliss. He hadn’t forgotten her. Nigel was an excellent garden companion. An honorary dog. A scrupulously fair and neutral party in those final days. She noticed he no longer wore the glittery collar she’d bought him. He rolled where the spinach had been, tilting his head back to look up at the house.

She followed his gaze to see a face at the bedroom window. Pale, like a petal, or the moon. Sylvia.

What kind of name was that for a twenty-eight-year-old? She supposed it was quirky, boho, chic. Sylvia was ethereal and waiflike, wore long silk dresses and floated round the house looking pensive. At least that’s how she imagined it. She’d never been introduced to her replacement.

She turned back round, straightened herself and resumed digging, waiting for the sliding sound of the patio door. 

When she had finished, the bucket was full. She peeled the gardening gloves off, clapped them together and threw them down on the empty spinach bed. 

She turned to the house. Sylvia had disappeared from the window. Probably on the phone to him, telling him to come home, now.

She picked up her bucket and strode back through the gate and up the drive. Nigel came chirruping along behind her. She placed the bucket of spinach carefully in the boot. It was Nigel’s decision to hop in beside it.

They could stop off at the pet shop to get a replacement collar. Garish pink, extra sparkles.  

Shelley Roche-Jacques

About Shelley Roche-Jacques

Shelley Roche-Jacques’ work has appeared in magazines such as The Rialto, Magma, and The Boston Review. Her collection of dramatic monologues Risk the Pier was published in 2017. She teaches Creative Writing and Performance at Sheffield Hallam University.

Shelley Roche-Jacques’ work has appeared in magazines such as The Rialto, Magma, and The Boston Review. Her collection of dramatic monologues Risk the Pier was published in 2017. She teaches Creative Writing and Performance at Sheffield Hallam University.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *