Q: Did it hurt?
A: Did what hurt?
Q: Realising that he loves the garden more than you?
A: It’s not that he loves the garden more than me. It’s that he loves the garden and he doesn’t love me.
Q: Do you love him?
A: A bit. Sometimes.
Q: Do you love the garden?
A: I love the garden.
Q: You could leave one another. The children are reared. Out of the house.
A: What would be the point?
Q: You don’t love each other. Do you?
A: We don’t hate each other.
Q: I don’t know that a negative will suffice here.
A: If I left him he would have to move out of the house. Or possibly I would. Or both of us.
A: Neither of us could afford to buy the other out. The house is attached to the garden.
Q: Yes. I gathered.
A: But do you? Can I tell you a story?
Q: Please do.
A: Our son, Anthony, came home last weekend. He spent Saturday afternoon stretched on the lounger with a faded Nabokov opened over his nose. He’s been pretending to read that novel since his last visit, at least. I’d swear it’s faded primarily from its use as a sun-hat. Anyway.
He woke up with a start and a plum in his hand. Materialised. The branches that hang out over the lawn took note of August, and youth’s reflexes closed his fist before he knew the fruit had hit his palm. He woke up with a plum in his hand.
A: We have turned over every sod in those beds a thousand times. I have pruned, he has hacked. I have weeded, he has sawn. Would you have us buy some apartment in the city? A villa in Spain?
Q: …if the alternative was to endure a loveless marriage?
A: Who says it is? I never said. My husband is out there with tea in his hand at six every morning. Wetting his feet in the dew. How could I take that away from him? I want to take back what I said before. I love the garden in him. I hope he loves the garden in me.
Q: And if he doesn’t?
A: It is enough, I suppose, that he loves the garden in the garden. We’ll stay ‘til it no longer needs us.