The Garden Fence
The garden fence sat white and still and white and broken. Ben and Annette had just bought the house, signed the papers, got the keys. The thirty-four year old man now stood in the summer sun. The leaves rustling in the trees overhead as a slight breeze pushed them over.
The street, somehow the house, was nice. When the traffic haLted for but one minute at the opening of the dead-end, you could take in the subtle beauty of what nature had left in those cemented domains
Ben stood in the driveway, looking at the fence. To be precise, looking at the gate. It was a regular doorway, one you’d most often found in front of small house in suburban France. Made of generic white plastic sheets, with some gaps in between, making them appear as jagged teeth. Perfect tiles of metal, oddly cleaner than the entirety of the house they just bought.
Yet three tiles were broken. They glistened under the morning sun ragged in the uneven shaped of a ground key. Canines.
Annette had asked Ben to fix this. She liked things clean and lean. He liked that she was like that. For he wasn’t.
He’d thought he would be a quick trip to the grocery store, repaired even quicker than was possible. And yet, faced with the three serrated edges it came back to him.
Twelve years ago, Ben had been in love with the wrong person. It was a relationship made of noise mostly, of sex and, my god, of so many tears. To this day, he would sometime reminisce upon it while laying next to Annette. Having no shame, the way old folks remember their Atlantis.
When he was twenty, Ben still lived with his mom. She would soon move, and he would discover life with roommates. But this time hasn’t come.
Instead he’d recently fell for a girl living across the Channel. Young woman he’d met in highschool, regular teenage crush. She’d drive him crazy. Because of the separation, he would soon drink himself to death, with the fervor zealots only lays at the scaly feet of barbarian idols.
It was the time, when being piss drunk, Ben would have to jump over the fence that separated his building from the parking lot. It was an old fence. Greenish. Oversued and torn. He’d jump over it a few times already but never this inebrieted.
The thirty-something remembered looking at the green spikes, wondering if he could really hurt himself through the haze. Deciding this was all he’d deserved anyway. His being worthless was definitely why she didn’t cross the Channel, right?
The drunken kid, he would jump over the fence and stuck his leg right in. Try to free himself, listening to the fabric of his jeans being torn, wondering if the pain he subtly felt was to be feared. Deciding it didn’t matter.
He’d go up to bed leaving behind a trail of blood he was too drunk and sick to even try to clean.
It was his mom’s scream that awoke him. In the time that would come, when his mother began hating him for being unable to support himself, he would come to the conclusion that his mother grew tired of him. But in his memory, he could still hear the cry of pain, of tribal fear which came from her sacred throat as she erupted in his room.
She’d shook his half-awake, shit-faced ass, yelling: “Ben. BEN! TELL ME YOU’RE ALIVE!”
“Fuck I am,” was all he answered.
“There’s blood everywhere,” yelled his mom before regaining her composure.
“I jumped over the parking fence yesterday. Stabbed my leg is all”
“This is how Romy Schneider’s son died you fucking moron! Pierce his femoral arthery, thought he was nothing, fucking got to sleep and never awoke! You dumb bastard!”
There was a fear in her hatred, only a mother could spew. Ben, in his bed, only felt drunk and ashamed. Still slightly disgusted by himself as his mom closed the door behind her.
Fourteen years later, Ben would stare at a broken fence, at the ragged shape of three rectangles. The ones closest to the right pillars.
In his head, he could picture the foggy teenager who had drunkenly scrambled over the door. While his clumsiness produced a rain of shards of plastic. There’s a god for the drunken youngs he thought. In his mind nothing could have happened to that guy.
He thought at the house behind him. It had protected family, saw children be born, grow tall, begin to smoke, maybe fuck. Then the parents got old, finished in a retirement home.
He thought of the ragged fence as the reminder of the passing of time. As a sole imprint of someone else’s teenagehood
And he decided not to repair it.
He would find an excuse for Annette in due time.
Next week, we’ll talk about Juan Rulfo!