“I’m pleased to be here, today.
I’m a little nervous.
We are gathered here, today, to dedicate this garden to the Hirsham Community.”
Papers rustle to the ground.
“I’m sorry, I can’t do this.. I can’t.” Pepper’s hands tremble. She pauses and begins to recite the email she received just before appearing in front of the best gardeners in the community.
The letter won’t leave her mind. She sees the words hanging over the group. Thinking is impossible.
I saw what you did last spring.
You thought no one would ever find you out.”
Pepper can’t stop talking. She is saying the words hanging over the gardener’s bright hats and tries to stop, talking, reading.
“What you didn’t know, was that I’d been there before you. I saw what was hidden at the back of the shed. Back behind the rake and hoe.
At this point it is becoming obvious to everyone there that something is terribly wrong. Some folks are looking around at each other as if to confirm the unfolding event.
“When I first saw it, I thought it was an animal. Dead, but an animal. Brown, tangled. Dried leaves stuck in there.
Then I thought it was an old wig. What it was doing stuffed behind the garden tools, I couldn’t guess. But it wasn’t a wig.
When I nudged it away from the wall, it tumbled to face me with a hideous broken toothed grin.”
Now the crowd has gone completely silent.
“It was the gold rimmed tooth that gave it away.
I always thought the gold made her look old, trashy, even.
But that’s no reason to lop off Doris’s head and sweep it into the corner like that.
A lady in the back row gasps and claps her hands to her chest.
Why didn’t you put it with the rest of her? You know. The dried up body you buried at the edge of the garden? Right there with the potatoes.”
Pepper paused to look at the potato patch, not ready for harvest but growing quite well. A lot of heads followed her gaze.
She continued her recitation.
“How long did it take to dry her up, like that?
Where were you keeping her?
I knew something was up when I saw you bent and sweaty with a wheelbarrow at your side.
I know what you did last spring.
The crowd mumbles. Someone laughs. Mostly they’re gawking in stunned silence.
Pepper excuses herself and darts off toward her car.
Finally Mrs. Sims, the group organizer, steps up to the podium, crunching the dropped pages under her heels.
“Is Anita here?”