Nell had everything she needed for the grocery store — her list, reusable bags, her mask. It was hard to leave her zone of comfort, with its blend of shabbiness and charm, of shameless clutter and a few things of real beauty. She saw that her life was growing increasingly smaller — or was it “ungrowing?” She lived in less of the house. Almost everything she needed was close at hand, on the coffee table. Books, a scattering of magazines and crosswords, lotion, tissues, bobby pins, remotes.
“Bye, Jack. Take care of things.” The shaggy little Shih Tzu sat in front of the sliding door looking out. There was always something of interest. It pained Nell to look there. For two years her pots had huddled together under the wooden benches, protected from an approaching storm. She had locked down well in advance of the virus.
She and Jack shared this life. Sometimes the rush of love she felt for him was overwhelming. He didn’t mind that she was messy. He had his messy space too. He loved his home. Jack was patient with her and her moods. He noted she always sang to him when she fed him in the morning, silly rhymes that she made up as she went along. They were always the same to each other. She wondered if she could survive without him.
She enjoyed traveling around inside, mostly pleased by how compliant and considerate people were.These days cashiers and pharmacy assistants were the only people she saw on a regular basis. Sometimes they talked a little about the smallest things, her cookie choice, some splashy wrapping paper.
It was a pot of lavender that caught her. And nearby, pots of miniature roses. She remembered that “roses and lavender are good companions for your border.” She wanted this garden close at hand. For her, and for Jack, too. She would outline her deck in lavender and little roses. She wouldn’t try to do too much too fast; but find a balance, tend the garden that is herself.