Hibiscuses in Hibernation
For long I waited for my time,
For what I thought was mine,
Only to be pushed aside
Only to be denied
And I waited for my time,
waited fall and summer
And winter and springtime,
To wake me from my slumber
Thus, I waited in my gloom
For a small chance to bloom
To show off my colors
To show off my pride
And though the days passed
Though I hoped they'd last
To give me a chance
So I could get a glance
Of what I could be
Of what I could become
And just when I thought,
My time wouldn't come,
A door of possibilities opened
I was just a hibiscus in hibernation
“I have only a couple more pieces to chop until I have dinner with Martha, we’re going to need all this wood tonight; it’s going to be the coldest night so far,” Jacob muttered to himself as he hacked away at the wood=blocks. It was indeed a cold and dull day and Jacob could see his breath hanging in the air for a couple of seconds when he breathes and the thick fog hanging in the fir trees around his house into the mountains. It was beautiful but in a melancholy and mysterious way. He thought about how on their wedding day they spent the entire night looking out at the woods from the back porch and how lovely Martha had looked in her soft white dress that flowed so delicately she could have been mistaken for a forest nymph. He remembered how the reflection of the string lights on the porch danced in her Prussian blue eyes and gently lit up her round face. She had her sweet smile on her matte, dark cherry lips that melted his heart every time he saw it and the faintest hint of a dimple on her left cheek. She had a perfectly placed mole on the upper left corner above her lips which was the first thing he complimented her on during their first date. She had tied her chocolate brown hair up in a bun in a haphazard way and removed all the jewelry except for the wedding ring; the wedding ring she had selected after visiting nearly 20 stores. That was back when they still decided to be in contact with the outside world. He remembered the ceremony and how small and intimate it had been. Just them and a pastor whom they never heard from again and all the woods and creatures as the guests to be witnesses to two souls becoming intertwined. They had decided to live here, off the map, in a secluded part of the Rocky’s to get away from everyone and leave everything behind. Jacob being an incredibly sweet, yet extremely introverted man did not mind it all. Martha was fine with it for a while but decided she needed to take trips to the “real world” to save her sanity. Little did Jacob know that just two weeks after their wedding it would be the last time, he’d see Martha alive and well, and her faint dimple popping up in between conversations. It would be the last time he’d smell the pine mixed with vanilla and black coffee kissing him a good morning and a goodbye. He wished he could go back in time and stop her from ever going to town at the beginning of the week or to just call her and tell her to spend another day with her mother and to return the next day.
Tears were swelling in his eyes and the log of wood just became a brown blur. Yet, Jacob continued to chop; he did not want Martha to be cold tonight. It wasn’t in him to cry; all he could do was be sad and think about how Richard Dyre came running up the road to his house with Martha’s seemingly lifeless body in his arms. Richard was a short man, with a stubble beard, he was very cunning and calculative, and prideful in a weird way. His entire world was taken from him less than a month after getting married.
“Stephenson! Stephenson come quick, quit yer logging for a second!”, yelled Farmer Dyre, “It’s yer misses!”
“Farmer Dyre? What happened?” Jacob was running down the road as fast as he could to meet Dyre who was already halfway up the road. He saw Martha’s limp and pale body in the farmer’s arms. “What happened to her, where did you find her Farmer Dyre?”
“I was out tending to my pigs and corn and I thought I seen somethin’ unusual was laying in the middle of the road. So, I go to take a closer look and see that it’s your misses. She must’ve taken a pretty bad hit as she looks to be more knocked out than a man with moonshine.”
“We have to take her to the hospital Dyre! Will you come with me? Please! I have to save her!”
“Now hold your horses’ sonny, yer bank account be drier than the Sahara and you want to take her to some city doc to treat her? Them city docs, actually no, all them docs be no gooder than a bunch a leeches, I tell ya. They keep sucking and sucking till the poor man’s run dry and has nothing left to offer ’cept his soul to the Devil.”
“But what do I do now Farmer? I have lost everything in the world” Jacob asked distraughtly.
“Well, as a god-fearing man you should be faithful to yer wife and take care of her like you said you would in your vows.”
“Take care of my wife, take care of my wife, take care of my wife”, the thought reverberated through Jacob’s mind as he finished chopping the last piece of wood. He straightened himself and stretched. He was a large man, and very muscular. Even though there were no gyms in the woods where he lived his muscles were also extremely toned. He was prideful of his beard which hung like an upside-down flame down to the middle of his waist. His mustache complemented his beard and flowed into it like a waterfall. He had beautiful green eyes that were almost as deep as the woods itself; always filled with thought and a lurking sorrow that no one could know what it was. As if he knew his destiny and had to keep the troubles of it to himself.
He stacks the wood into his arms and pushes the backdoor which leads into the kitchen. The smell of cranberries, oranges, and cinnamon hit his nose, and all he could do was stop and smile to himself while taking it all in. He had been doing everything he could to make life seem as it was ten years ago when Martha was still alive. Had she been there with him, she would have already had some hot chocolate going on the stove and prepping for dinner while humming a song she had just made up. She was talented and unique like that, and that’s what he adored about her the most.
A week goes by since the start of fall and Jacob’s routine has been the same. Wake up in the morning, dress himself and Martha, make breakfast for the both of them, tend to the garden and the house, make lunch, decorate the house, chop the wood for the night, make dinner, take a shower, clean Martha, and go to bed. He can feel his sanity dying by each day. He’s been a good loving husband to her, but she has done nothing back for him. Was taking care of her for the past 10 years not enough? Why could she not come back to him after she’s seen what he’s done for her?
“Did you like the casserole today? There are no beans in it. I know you don’t like beans”
Martha just looks straight on, doesn’t answer, doesn’t blink. Doesn’t even attempt to move.
“You know, I’ve been thinking...why don’t we go visit your mama in the city? Would that make you feel better?”
Martha still doesn’t answer, and Jacob’s temperament is rising uncontrollably. He tries to ignore it and takes a few more bites but he snaps and loses all control. In a second, he lunges at Martha with his hand around her throat, strangling her, begging her to answer him, to love him back. He shakes her around trying to get her to fight back. And then he stops. He sets her back down on the chair and backs away slowly. Martha’s chin is now resting softly on her neck. He realizes to his horror what he has done. He has killed Martha and now she won’t ever be coming back to him. He doesn’t notice Martha’s half-decayed leg underneath the table or the whiteness in her eyes that has been there for the past ten years.
“I have to take my own.” Jacob says to the emptiness in the house. He feels guilty killing Martha even though she has been dead for years now.
“You have to take your own.” The house seems to say back to him.
He looks outside and sees his ax resting against the tree stump in the backyard. He has a vision of it. One strong swing. Right down the middle of his head. It would quick he thought. Maybe not painless, but that would be his punishment. To suffer a slow death for taking another.
He picks Martha up, gently this time, and lays her in bed and tucks her in. He kisses her forehead and apologizes for what he has done and what he is about to do. As he is about to walk to the yard through the backdoor, the phone rings. He hasn’t had a call in ten years. Surprised that it still works, he cautiously approaches it. He rests his hand on top for a moment and picks up.
“Jake? Jake, is that you? Oh, thank God, you’re still alive!” Martha is pacing around back and forth and messing around with a pen in her hand. She sometimes runs the pen through her hair when feeling extremely under pressure. She has been vigorously chewing the same piece of gum for the last three hours praying that the call will finally go through to Jacob. She nearly swallows it out of relief and excitement when Jacob picks up the call.
Jacob was too stunned to even breathe; Martha was the only one that called him Jake. But he just laid her dead body in bed.
“Martha?”, Jacob asked cautiously, “No. You’re not Martha. Who are you?” his voice now thundering into the phone.
“Jake, it’s me, Martha. I promise Jake.”
“No, you’re not Martha. Martha is dead. I just put her body in bed.”
There was a silence so suffocating that even the crickets outside stopped singing and the whir of the lights softened. “That was my twin. Kelly. I know who killed her too, I just cannot find enough evidence to bring it against Dick. You know how I sometimes call Richard by his nickname, Dick? Yeah, well sometimes he acts like one too. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I can explain everything right now. Do you have time?” Martha was holding back tears- she could feel the lump in her throat grow bigger and bigger.
Jacob thought about it for a while. He did not know if he should trust the woman on the other side of the call. But then again, it felt nice to have someone to talk to after all those years. “Yeah, I have time,” he said monotonously.
And so Martha explained everything. How she was a top FBI agent and why she was ok with living in a secluded part of the mountains in the first place where their only neighbor would be the Dyres’. She explained how she had a twin sister named Kelly who was married to Richard Dyre.
“So Farmer Dyre is my brother-in-law? He was related to us this whole time and never once came to visit me after all those lonesome years?” Jacob desperately wished for this all to be a terrible dream.
“Well, the thing is, Kelly only married Richard for his sense of humor, she was a dumb little b- never mind, it’s not good to talk bad about the dead. But anyways, Richard knew Kelly and I came from a rich family. Not powerful or influential, just rich. He was a pig, the pigs he takes care of have a higher chance of getting into heaven than he does. He wanted the money and the only way to do that was to kill her and take her insurance money.”
“So he brought her body to me knowing that I would believe him that it was you?”
“Yes, I don’t blame you though. The only difference between me and her is that she doesn’t have a mole on her face at all.”
“I noticed that, I just thought maybe you had been drawing it on all these years,” Jacob had noticed that “Martha” did not have the mole on the upper left side of her lip, but he assumed that Martha had a speck of dirt on her face during their first date and had been drawing a mole on her face ever since he complemented her mole during their date. He had not, in the slightest bit, thought to himself, that the body was not Martha’s. He just believed that Martha had been faking a mole this entire time and that is why there is not a mole on her face now.
“But Jake listen, I could not come home as soon as I would like because my previous would have put us both in danger. Now listen to me very carefully, I’m going to come over tonight and I need you to help me catch Richard.”
“But Martha, I don’t think I can. I’m not smart or observant as you. I would just get in the way.”
“No Jake, I need you with me on this one.”
Jacob agreed and waited in his living room for her special knock. Five knocks, all different lengths. It is a small cozy living room with two wooden rocking chairs and a small loveseat sofa. There is a fireplace with a mantle that has the name “STEPHENSON’S” made of wooden letters on it. On the wall opposite the fireplace, above the door, there is an old wall clock that ticks every 23 seconds. Martha had made that clock as a birthday present for Jacob when they had become friends. Now he thinks about how the clock would continue to tick for as long as they lasted. An hour later Martha came.
“I brought all my investigative stuff with me.”, she paused and looked around, “I like what you’ve done with the place, it’s lovely Jake.”
Jake puffed up a bit with pride. “All for you Martha,” he said with a smile.
“We’ll start in the morning, come let’s spend the night on the porch”
The next day they make their way up to Farmer Dyre’s house. A modest ranch house with a red barn beside it. They knocked at the door but were met with nothing but the occasional squeals from the pigs. Thinking the farmer might be tending to the pigs, they go to the back. But again, they are met with the pigs and severely undernourished pigs.
“He must’ve left a couple of months ago”, Martha said defeated.
“It’s ok Martha, we can go to the city and find a couple of detectives who can he-” Jacob is interrupted by two officials in trench coats, black hats and black sunglasses who knocked him out with a pipe. the two officials are hitmen hired by Richard Dyre to take out anyone who would try to gather evidence that he killed Kelly. Since Jacob and Martha were on Richard’s property looking for evidence against him, the two officials take out Jacob as they know Martha has a lack of evidence to prove anything now. All she can do is just watch as they incriminate Jacob for “killing” Kelly.
“Ma’am is this your husband? We’re gonna have to arrest him. You see he’s been hoarding a dead body in the house for ten years, now you might know the body to be your sister and we have reason to believe that this man might have also killed her.”
“No! My husband was tricked into it! Please, believe me!”
“You got no evidence against this poor farmer ma’am” they say with a smirk, “But the farmer does have a large sum of cash to pay us with.” They drag Jacob by the collar down the road and into their van. Martha can do nothing but stare at them and watch them take her husband away.
A week later, an incredibly distraught Martha gets a call while she is eating dinner.
“Hello?” she says quietly.
“Aren’t you glad that I didn’t have him killed Martha? Hahah, I’m sorry darling I wish I could have been there to see the look on your face when they took him.” Richard could no longer control his happiness. He had gotten what he wanted. “Maybe you should’ve listened to your man when he said that he couldn’t help you on this case, the guy’s a nut job either way. I mean come on ten years! I know embalmed Kelly before handing her over to him but the man’s insane if he believed it was you in a vegetative state for that long.”
“I’m going to..I’m going..no, you’re going to...” Martha stopped mid-sentence. What was she going to say? That Richard was going to pay? How would she do that? She tried getting evidence against him for the last ten years and still came up with nothing. It was no use.
“Aw, Martha, darling,” Richard cooed, “don’t beat yourself up about this, you still are the best FBI agent out there. Cheer up now, maybe you will be able to crack the next murder case without losing another loved one. Bye now, I have people to pay and a flight to catch. Oh, and your husband to take care of, which is proving to be more difficult by the day.”
Martha could not say anything. After Richard ended the call, she stood there with the phone in hand and a thousand thoughts running a million miles per minute in her head. She let the phone dangle by the cord and went back to her dinner at the table. She did not eat. She did not move. She just stared at the clock on the wall that ticked every 23 seconds because that was all she could do. That was all she would be able to do.
we were at the 7-Eleven,
doing our elven things
when we heard a little clink
coming from the sink
and so we rushed to the back
along with our minion pack
and there glowed red,
a button above our head
a buzzing sound could be heard
together we conferred
to look on
for the source of the sound
it led us outside
to the quiet midnight
and when we had aligned
we saw the big neon sign
and before our eyes
the 7-Eleven said its goodbyes
it got up on all fours and took a stroll
maybe looking for some place else to patrol
then after a while our vision got blurry
and so we turned around in a hurry
in hopes of passing acquaintances
but alas, we got silence
sneakers turn into heels
platonic turns into feels
morning's blue skies
turn into purple twilights
once loud houses
turn into quiet places
and light-hearted jokes
become dark, serious thoughts
and playground dates
become late night treats
and of all the things i wished for when I was younger
growing up was the deal breaker
but never did i think
that i'd lay down without a blink
of sleep, and wish for times
with childhood rhymes