Beverley Farmer


When Bell wakes she is warm at last, hugging the ache of her belly to her like a hot water bottle. She has come out of a blank sleep with a sickly sweet smell- jasmine?- in her face and the conviction that the old man's grave is out there in the kitchen garden under the grass and hyacinths, flanked by the olive trees. Zoumboulia. They are what she can smell, not jasmine, hyacinths. Flowers that can sprout and grow in the space of a jar in a cupboard, needing no light, no soil, their fat whiskery bulbs fattening like fungi on nothing but dark water. They are too rich, too cloying, like bottled scent. They might as well be immortelles out there, the old man's hyacinths, squatting on their leaves with petals of tinted plastic in thick shavings, pink, blue and white, so solid. Fleshy to the touch, with the clammy coldness of underwater flowers that are animals in disguise, sponges and soft corals and sea anemones, windflowers, sea windflowers with their clutch of tentacles.



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