The Rose Garden. Short story.

Fred Hollins had always loved his garden.  His rose arches welded in his own shed served as strong hold for snow covered climbers and old faithful roses as large as his house. Fred was in love with the whole idea of what a garden can look like with hard work.

Freds wife was not so sure as her thought was she was no more than a second best to Madame Lousie  Odier and Gloria Stracken. Names of roses but in her mind rivals for her time with him.

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Fred worked hard in his retirement too and Alice plans to travel had long left by the window as Freds new greenhouse was being erected by a three man team.

The many who called to see for themselves the results of his labour stood open mouthed at such a marvel.  Alice was more and more reduced to rank of kitchen porter.

Years flew by nothing changed only more pruning and seed tray washing. He only came in to sleep and was back in his greenhouses when Alice awoke next morning.  She drove to shop alone and felt rejected so much she spoke to no one. The way they lived had a bad effect on the relationship but she had had good times before he found his hobby now his life. Madly in love with old roses if not with his Alice, they had drifted apart.

It was the annual flower show at the open gardens near by. Fred was approached as best garden in town winner to be presented with a cup by the local Council Officer Dan Pringle. He himself a champion rose grower. Fred dressed smart and for once she helped him with ironing his shirt ,this pleased her as he looked so good in a good suit.

Alice was not asked to attend. She head in hands at the kitchen table came up with a plan to bring him nearer to her. What if she fixed the ladders he used for high rose pruning . A slight fall may do the trick. She could be his nurse she thought. Six weeks in bed broken leg.Helping hand as he started walking that should do the trick. For an hour she mulled it over in her troubled mind. Yes it was to be. She slipped out with the hack saw from the garage and sawed half through one step near the top. The ladders laying on the neatly clipped lawns the cut was made so thin at the joint it was undetectable. Placing the ladders back on the hooks she replaced his saw and went out for a drive.

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All was set in place.  Weeks turned into months and Alice waited smiling for the first time in years. His way in his garden left her in no doubt she was not a thought in his head. They hardly talked unless it was rose cuttings or run to store for bags of seed soils or manure in bags. She yawned and as she looked up to see what he was up to the ladders up against the wall told her D,day was here at last.

Fred tied on his tool pouch with his set of pruning tools and mounted the ladder. Alice gasped as he trod on the step and for an age it held. She watched with wider eyes. Her knuckles white as she gripped the sink taps waiting .Then down he came so fast it shocked her made her jump. He came down through the glass roof of his greenhouse and hot the stone flagged floor like a lump of strawberry jam.

She blinked in disbelief as the noise filled her ears and as the sound died , so did Fred.

She tip toed up the garden path and there he was with a glass fragment in his neck .Blood bath all around and blood still pumping from him.  Sprays up the wall of brick behind him. She started to cry hot tears staining her blouse.

Alice howled loudly and for a while felt helpless her idea to bring them closer had ended her marriage and claimed her beloved husbands life.

Then she saw the ladders and the step handing down. Given thought she now turned the ladders around and with pliers removed  the bottom step. Inside her home she rang police and ambulance.

The body covered over she walked alongside as the ambulance team took him inside the vehicle. The police had few questions but she said she heard only the noise. No inquest was called for the fall was not his death but the greenhouse glass had cut his main blood arteiry  right through and killed him.

Alice spread Freds ashes over his rose beds  and thought that the best way for him. Plenty of Fred in the soils, she sold the house and left for better days.

It was as she packed her bags she became suddenly aware of someone behind her. A voice in her head told her Fred was with her still. Her hair stood on end, as the policeman held her arm and handcuffed her tightly. Her prints on saw and ladders and a note from an anonymous writer had pointed at murder.

Her court date was set and her lawyer took her story as fact.  In the dock she was put through serious difficulty explaining her love for Fred and then killing him.

Her lawyer fought hard and she was released with probation order only.  The press who had waited for over an hour for the verdict now gathered like bees around a jam pot and photo after photo flashed had Alice blinking hard.

Next day she sat reading the newspapers and suddenly she stopped in supence.

In the photo of her in a crowded court doorway was another face  between her head and her lawyers head there was her dead husband face, Fred Hollins, as clear as day smiling back at her.

 

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