English Garden (A Summer of Flash Fiction #3)

We only eat at cafes across from flower shops, admiring the attractive men selecting roses for anniversaries or Valentine’s. We sit in wicker chairs, drink tea, and read books, listening in on the cell phone conversations of people walking by. We collect their snippets, phrases, and words and puzzle them together, a tapestry of what love and life are like. We construct fantasies of futures with husbands and careers—esteem and influence and donations to the poor—and polite but joyous children who believe in God, not because we’ve taught them to but because they’ve figured it out for themselves. We snicker at salacious halves of sentences we hear from people who pass by our table, and we burst out cackling—people giving us the evil eye, or the ‘those-girls-are-crazy’ eye—when an inside joke silently passes between us. We sip our tea with pinky up, spine straight, heels crossed, pretending we are classy ladies, mocking their accents and their snooty upturned noses while simultaneously wishing our snaggly hair would cooperate like theirs does, wishing our tights were smooth, not snagged, our shoes not scuffed. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an English garden in which to sit and bask, beneath umbrellaed tables so as not to burn our skin?