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Maggie gazed at the center of her garden, where slates leaned against a mossy gray cylinder, not quite three feet high, and several bamboo stakes stood in the ground behind it.

"Well, it's not any one thing."

"It changes?"

"No, it — well, I guess I change it, and it changes itself" — and it changes me, thought Maggie to herself, and more than that, but I can't tell you that — "it's sort of an accumulation that started with the base of a birdbath. The top blew off about three years ago, and I kept thinking I'd replace it, but no one was selling just the tops. And then I came across those slates, and used one on top as a temporary table for when I'm thinning and moving things around. The others wanted to be stepping stones--" Maggie stopped as she registered the look on Phyllis's face and realized what she had said. "Well, they looked as if they'd make good stepping stones."

"But they're stacked up now, they're not set along the path?" Phyllis made her observation into a question.

"Well, no. Slate is way too slick when it gets wet. I kept slipping and nearly falling all last spring."

"Last spring everything was slick; we had all those rain-almost-ice storms, remember? I put a few new dents in the fender just getting around town."

"Yes, well, slate makes an especially bad road surface; I think I'll pour some concrete stepping stones. Those'll do a better job." Maggie looked out the window at Abbey, who was now peering down into the base of the birdbath at the center. "Maybe Abbey and her friend — Ann? Pearl? — could come and help me with that, when it warms up a bit."

"You'd have to put up with a lot of questions from Pearl; and probably a lot of pronouncements too; she doesn't hold back when she's got theories about something."

"And she's got theories about me, my garden, and, perhaps" — Maggie lowered her voice — "the Thing in the Middle?"

Phyllis giggled, and again Maggie saw the shy girl from her geometry class. "Ooh, you bet. And why your garden path spirals in and out, you know, and how your cat patrols it to protect you, and why you have different plants from anyone else in town."


Created by kristin. Last Modification: Saturday 03 of October, 2020 16:57:42 EDT by kristin.