I’ve worked on two stories for this assignment. One is science-fictiony and uses “we” as a decidedly collective voice. It seems to work (more or less), so I’ve decided to submit the other because I have questions about it vis-à-vis POV. It was originally started using “they” POV. I’ve changed the POV to “we” (as well as adding more story to it) BUT it slides back and forth between “we” and “I”! It sits okay with me but I often get into trouble with POV and wonder if that slide makes sense. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to everyone else’s stories!
Getting Our Names on a Plant
We’ve been up since dawn and rush out of our cottage, THANKS BE TO THE SWEET PEA carved into the gate. Gerald mutters I’m driving erratically, nervous for our fragile cargo, this precious bunch of petals we’ve potted and perfected these last twenty years, our prized sweet pea specimen we know will garner us a blue ribbon, if not a silver cup. Gerald studies his dirt-packed nails as we barrel down the A1 Motorway, South Mimms to Stotfold for a duty visit to his mum in Allsworth Home on the way, then finally pull up to the national garden club, two cheese baps and a Spotted Dick slumping in the boot.
A third shout of our names draws us to the registration table. We shuffle forward, our charity shop shoes polished, our straw hats bent over our beloved, shrouded plant. Ours is not your single-name-eponymous sweet pea — not your pink-flushed Mrs Bernard Jones, not your wavy bloomer Ethel Grace nor your heady Lady Grisel Hamilton. Certainly not the showy King Edward VII. This Lathyrus odoratus, with its two-toned purple petals and giddy fragrance, was raised by long mutual tending, seeds sown before sunrise on St. Patrick’s Day.
We hold our breaths as we spot Mrs. Stapleton from our local garden club. In her constant bids for first place with her peonies, she has slept with all the garden judges, male and female, first plying them with her cache of fine brandy.
Mrs. Stapleton’s tactics can work two ways, I think. I pat Gerald’s tweed jacket, ask him to wait and guard our plant. I will take care of matters. I march over to Mrs. Stapleton, who is hovering over her entry. I gently push back a strand of hair from her eyes, whisper in her ear, grab a manicured hand, and lead her out back to the potting shed.
Ten minutes later, I unrumple my wool skirt and jumper, leaving Mrs. Stapleton panting in the dirt. Gerald and I hold our breaths again as we take our turn at the judges’ table. In rehearsed unison, our two right hands peel back a freshly ironed cloth napkin to reveal the Gerald and Gladys. At home we practiced a Ta-da! to accompany the reveal but decide on restraint for today.
Their heads bob like buoys, or like old-timers recalling the days of their youth, when they marched by the Thames on Labour Day, red and heavy gold-fringed trade banners held aloft — a heady time of collectivity. In unison, they nod and raise their hands in assent. A certificate is signed, seals pressed in, the press notified.
We gather ourselves and accept the honor, bowing our heads in requisite humbleness. Thank you for a lovely time, we whisper as we grab the parchment and rattle off in our old sedan. We hurry home to give the dog his dinner, our son Roger living too far away to help us out.