She clicks her tongue – not disapprovingly but with a resigned sort of sympathy. There’s a touch of melancholy as she presses two fingers into the pumpkin’s darkening side and feels its flesh give, rotting steadily. This one is not long for her garden, she should put it somewhere special.
It’s a moderately sized pumpkin but it still takes some effort to heft onto her shoulder. She straightens, looks around and starts down the circus rope of a path that coils all through her garden. People say it should be impossible for her to reach every stem and root via that one twisting, brown and unbricked road. Then again, people also say it shouldn’t be possible for her marigolds to bloom all year round.
It’s not like she is keeping it a mystery, like she has some secret-ingredient fertilizer, she has told them time and again – it’s the pumpkins. By the looks most give her, they’d sooner believe she is a witch. Still, they bring her their pumpkins and that’s all she really cares about.
Everybody makes a big fuss about where Christmas trees go when the new year rolls in with a champagne pop but nobody seems to care about the gutted pumpkins after the candy wrappers have been (hopefully) sorted into the appropriate recycling bins.
“But it hardly matters now, does it? You know you’re all welcome.”
She tips the pumpkin off her shoulder and into her waiting arms, bending with the weight of it so she can gentle its descent to the ground. Its eyes are different sizes and the carving knife seems to have slipped a bit at the mouth – one tooth remaining where there had clearly been ambition for two. She has seen much better and much worse and she has never refused to take a single one.
“Norman,” she declares without much reason and with perfect confidence.
And Norman’s off-orange body fits magically among her forget-me-nots, some of his melancholy already evaporating into the cold November air.