June 7, 2011 by The Citron Review
by Kat Kambes
We always had tons of tomatoes in the yard, end of summer. Was my job to weed the garden and I’d watch them grow and grow until the limbs grew heavy and sagged and they started to turn bright, bright red. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and even a few watermelon grew in that patch of land behind the garage.
Usually, I didn’t mind much, ‘cause I could play in the dirt, pull up the weeds and have time for my own thoughts – my own thoughts away from that house.
Inside that house was my mom, brother, sister and step-daddy. It was my step-daddy’s idea for the garden and it was my step-daddy that made me wanna be outside by my own self. But sometimes, sometimes it didn’t just work like that. Sometimes after dinner – when the sun was going down he’d say “Let’s go see how that garden’s doin’,” and that’s when I hated that garden most. There was a spot right behind the garage, next to the fence – he’d say “Let’s see what we got growing over there –” and head me into the corner where the darkness crept in on all sides, and when I turned around was always him that was growing.
“Look here at that cuke,” he’d say. Or, “Come pluck yourself some of this here zucchini,” and he would smile and roll his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other. He wouldn’t let me leave until I’d gagged down everything that grown thing had in it.
Then he’d tell me how he’d tell everyone I was a whore if I said anything and give me a hurtin’ like I never felt before.
When we’d go back in the house he’d say to my mom “That girl knows how to take care of the garden there – yep.” and he’d wink at me as I b-lined it into the bathroom to scrub all the funk and dirt away.
Kat is a freelance writer, poet, and playwright in the Los Angeles area. Her work has been seen in the Deadlier Than Thou: The 2010 Anthology, Skive Magazine (Americana Issue), Short, Fast & Deadly, Best Poems & Poets of 2005, The Color of Life, Harvest Literary Journal, and Melt Magazine. She is currently editing her book of short stories entitled The Shadows of Things. Kat is a graduate of the Antioch MFA program, and managing director of a local theater company.