Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fiction Works, Sharon Hajj

By Sharon Hajj

Becca stood in front of the flower bed letting the sunshine warm her both inside and out. The light bounced off the white rocks she lined up along the edge, their smooth surface making the garden look like it was surrounded in clouds. She left space between the azalea bushes as the perfect spot for her petunias next spring.

Life couldn’t get better than this. Becca was content. She had her home, her family, and satisfaction in her work. Nothing could disturb her.

She took a deep breath and patted her hands, stirring up the scent of the moist garden soil. Looking down, she sent a thank you to the flower bed for bringing her joy. Before she turned toward the front door, the sound of laughter from the neighbor’s children caught her attention. Their giggles filled her with love, remembering all the fun she had with her own children when they were that age.

Back in the kitchen, Becca turned on the stove and placed the tea kettle above the soft flames. The sound of the laughter came closer when her phone rang.


“You won’t believe what happened.” Her friend Shauna’s voice screeched in her ear.

Becca pulled the phone away from her ear. “Tell me,” she said, leaving the ear piece a distance from her.

“Margaret said the mechanic charged her double for the part. My friend recommended him though. I know he wouldn’t do it!”

The sound of clinking rocks flowed up through the window. Becca peered toward the window but she knew the phone would get cut off if she moved too close to that spot, something she did sometimes when talking on the phone with her mom when the conversation didn’t have an end.

“Maybe you should talk to your friend. Maybe he knows.” Now she heard the sound of rocks being tossed against each other. Becca felt irritation creeping over her skin. A lump started to form in her gut.

Shauna’s voice still streamed into her ear but she could no longer discern the words. Her mind, out on her flower bed, listened to the mixture of happiness now mixed with deviousness. Those children better not be messing up my yard, she thought.

“I have to go, Shauna. Go call your friend to find out what happened. There are always two sides to the story.”

Once she clicked the phone off, she rushed to the front door. When the children saw her standing in the doorway, they dropped the few rocks they held in their hands and ran away.

In front of the flower bed, she saw a few scattered rocks. I’ll have a talk with the parents later, thought Becca.

Becca stepped down to the ground and rearranged the rocks, back to their evenly lined row.

Her neighbor, Henry, an older gentleman who retired last year, let his screen door slam shut behind him. “They remind me of when I was a kid, always getting into trouble.”

“Yeah, and how did you learn to stop? What should I tell them? They’re really messing up my zen.”

“Oh,” he swatted at the air as he paused, “They can’t mess up your zen. You’re the one responsible for yourself.”
Becca saw his smile, a genuine smile. When she looked over to his front yard, she saw rocks strewn across his sidewalk. The rocks curved in a way and something about them drew her closer. She stepped across the grass and met him. Henry whistled while he leaned over and gathered the rocks. He turned and placed them on the ground next to his flowers without saying another word to Becca.

Henry’s eyes twinkled when he turned back to her. “Enjoy your evening.”


The next morning when Becca sipped her coffee, she exhaled when she realized she had nothing on her to do list. When her phone rang and she saw Shauna’s name, she rolled her eyes. She clicked decline and picked up her copy of House Beautiful. She flipped through the magazine pages when the phone rang again. She slapped the magazine down on the table.


“Becca, you won’t believe it! I spoke to my friend and he said Margaret misunderstood. I’m fed up with people don’t take the time to figure out what’s going on before they react.”

Shauna’s voice had an edge to it which twisted a dark cord of discontent through Becca’s veins. “Yes, you’re right. It happens too much.” Understanding and agreeing with her friend, didn’t keep Becca from feeling a bubbling anger growing inside her.

“I’ve told her before but she keeps calling me and complaining. I don’t want negativity in my life.” Shauna huffed into the phone.

Becca’s hand squeezed the phone. “I don’t either, Shauna,” she said. With a dramatic push against the phone screen, she ended the call and tossed it onto the table. The sound of tumbling rocks drew her attention to the front of the house. When she looked out the front door, the children had rocks in their hands and sprinkled at their feet.  “Get away from here.” The power of her voice caught her by surprise. She took off her slipper and threw it with all her strength down to the grass, in the space where the children stood only moments before.

Dark storm clouds passed in front of the sun turning the sky into an eerie tumultuous reflection of Becca’s actions. “I’m tired. I’m tired of the lies and anger and fighting.” She screamed up into the sky expecting a response.

A soft voice did respond. The words came from her neighbor, Henry. “Becca, life is all about balance. Don’t forget.”

Becca lowered her head. Lumbering footsteps came up behind her. She turned to see the sweetest smiles and most innocent faces. “Sorry, Miss Becca. We didn’t mean to mess up your garden. We want to put the rocks all back. Is it ok if we do it now?”

Becca sighed. Many angry thoughts twirled around in her head but she couldn’t muster the strength for them to escape. Better let it go, she thought.

She nodded towards the children and gulped when her eyes filled with tears.

“Don’t get down, Becca.” Henry’s voice soothed her. “We all have our days and we all have the chance to start fresh.”

The bright light from the sun broke through the clouds, warming her face, reminding her of the light and peace she strived to achieve. Focus, Becca, focus. She reached her hands out wide and spun around before looking back at her neighbor. “You’re right, Henry. It’s a beautiful day.”