The cold mist settled over the garden, and through the single paned glass of the kitchen window it looked like blue smoke. Annie watched it roll in over the hills and stop above her vegetable patch, meticulously managed by a chicken wire fence to keep out the rabbits. The rabbits had been particularly bad that year. So had her finances — and her marriage — but she preferred to focus on the rabbits. That was a problem she could solve.
She should have known by the peculiar five petaled blossom, yellow-orange with ribboned edges, that she’d planted the wrong seeds that summer. When the dewy air dissipated into early afternoon she saw the orange squash, bulging untouched from a stretching vine where her prize-winning courgettes should have been.
At least the rabbits couldn’t get to it.
Days grew shorter, fog heavier. When she next looked through the frostbit glass the small lump of squash had increased tenfold in size. Large and round. The color of her husband’s hair before his midlife crisis. It was brown now because that was ‘in mode’. Apparently so were secretaries and forgetting to pay the electric bill.
Looks like it’s gonna be a biggun, Annie thought. County fair big.
The idea possessed her the way night possessed day. The prize money would pay the month’s bills and earn her a prestige even her courgettes couldn’t realize.
The pumpkin grew. With each morning mist it increased in girth. Bigger, rounder, oranger. Soon it encompassed the width of the patch, sides pushing against the wire. It was the largest gourd she’d ever seen.
The day before the fair Annie went to cut it from the vine. As she approached she saw the fence had toppled from the weight of the pumpkin. On its side where a smooth surface ought to have been were the gnawed remains of rabbits. Their bites marred the orange skin where beetles ravaged. The fog, thick and opaque, seeped inward. And the broken holes stared back at her in a jeering grin.