Jones, Part Two, Chapter 13 (excerpt)

Mimi has spent the day in the garden, she weeded the front yard and then went out and bought flowers and planted them and she pushed the lawn mower around. She felt if she was going to stay away from work, something Bobby had begged her to do, she was going to work the garden, she was going to get dirty, get mud and grass stains on the knees of her overalls, she was going to crawl around the grass and wiggle her ass at her husband and laugh and maybe even drink water out of the garden hose. She would forget work and she would do things to the lawn and the garden and her gardener would chastise her, why are you doing my job? he would ask, and she didn’t care, she needed to feel the earth between her fingers. And planting flowers while Bobby barbecued the various meats, she flashed back to a scene of the children running around the yard, of the domestic bliss of a garden, she’d grown up in Paris, she’d never had a garden, just patio boxes, just plants in the house, and now she had an entire garden, and after the endlessness of the winter the rapid melt of the snow and the onset of green was an astonishing sight, it made her fall in love with Montreal for the first time, that transition, when spring just happens, and the mood of the city lifts and suddenly the world is a wondrous and just place.

And then Beth arrived, Dee had answered the door, and Beth had come out to the backyard and Dee had asked if Beth could eat over and Bobby had been so quick with his yes, so quick and eager, but Mimi said nothing, she smiled at Beth and asked about her sports and then Mimi had returned to the garden, she concentrated on the weeds in the back corner, near the Zederbaums, who had a garden of weeds, basically, because they were not gardeners, they had a neighbourhood boy mow their lawn but nothing more, the aesthetics of gardening were lost on them. Mimi remembers spending years trying to convince Eitan to let her pay for the weeding, she would pay and no one would never know, but Eitan had said no, always, wondering what the fuss was, weeds were green too after all.

But with Beth, Mimi didn’t know what to say, because everything she would say would be in context of what she had said already, and she was aware that the family was waiting for that conversation, and surely they could not have it in front of Beth herself.

Abbie wanted the conversation. He found the silence funny. His mind might wander over to his own work, to Etienne and his feud with Jacques, the silliness of the whole thing, the surly manner in which Jacques treated him now, but then he would be brought back, to Beth and Dee, and he would look around the room and want to laugh.

Beth drank down the lemonade and Dee poured her another glass. And Abbie started to laugh. He dropped his cutlery and tried not to laugh out loud but that might have left him with a pulled muscle. His laughter wheezed out from him, a Snidely Whiplash laughter, and soon his father had joined him, because Bobby got it, too, he could feel the absurdity of the silence, and he got out of his chair and excused himself, and this made Abbie laugh harder, and they both left the kitchen and stumbled into the dining room and then into the living room and then they found themselves on the shag carpet, rolling around, clutching their stomachs, trying not laugh out loud. “I’m going to have a heart attack,” Bobby says. And Abbie finally lets lose, and tears flow out of his eyes, and he is hugging his father, and his father is hugging him.

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