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by Rachel J Fenton

If someone asked what ended my relationship, all I would be able to say was that he trod on my vegetable patch. If they thought about that for a moment, they might think that vegetable patch must have taken a bit of work, digging it over, weeding it, raking it flat, picking out the stones and breaking up any large clods of soil that were left until a fine bed was made into which several hundred seeds were carefully sown in drills several inches apart and covered with a sprinkling of earth through which, in a couple of weeks, two tiny leaves would protrude, some still wearing the seed husk like a caul. If they thought about it some more, they might imagine what those vegetables would have grown into, given the chance, the feeling of satisfaction to be had from seeing their leaves grow, the watering and weeding over weeks and weeks of hot weather and drying winds to get them there, the anticipation then the excitement of the harvest, smelling the fresh dirt pulled into the air. Someone might imagine the joy of watching birds descend from the nearby trees, sparrows first, bold and unafraid, and after them the riroriro, tame but unaccustomed to crowds, picking over the bed for grubs; notice the intricacies of tunnels in lumps of muck compressed between rows of colourful roots. Looking closer, cicada larvae, vernix pale, clawing like infants; slaters in all sizes tumbling into the sudden trench. And his boot.

Rachel J Fenton is a working-class writer living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Most recently her short fictions have been nominated for The Best Small Fictions. Find her on social media here: snowlikethought.blogspot.com, @RaeJFenton, facebook.com/rae.joyce.5, instagram.com/redhousemary/