A Desperate Plea for Solitude

“Thank you, Marsha,” Demeter choked, eyes watering with tears. She felt guilty that she didn’t go out in the field to check on the bushel herself, but she was glad that she had such a nosey neighbor who had gotten a green thumb from watching her garden all these years.

Tap, tap, tap!

The book Demeter was reading fell to the ground as she was jolted awake. She sat straight up and looked around wildly. She had been slumped on her comfortable, gray couch when she heard the noise. It almost sounded like someone was tapping on the living room window. Demeter squinted her eyes. The sun was still up, but dusk was quickly approaching. 

Realizing she had fallen asleep, she was flooded with emotions. After learning that a cyclops had torn up her beautiful garden, she started refreshing her history on them. Her brother, Zeus, had a particular fondness for cyclopses, as they had forged his lightning bolts long ago. She couldn’t fathom why one would have destroyed her garden. She also didn’t want to start any trouble after just returning home.

Tap, tap, tap!

The goddess spun to the window to see an elderly, purple and curly-haired woman pressing her pointy nose against the glass. Marsha was her closest neighbor. She lived a few miles away, but always seemed to know when Demeter arrived home. This cottage used to be her place of peace and solitude, but when her neighbor bought land nearby, she continuously came over to bug Demeter with gossip and inane complaints. Why Marsha lived so far from the bustling city, she could only wonder. Demeter threw her head back against the couch and let out a loud sigh.

Oh, great. I get to deal with her now, too.

Tap, tap, tap!

“Yes?” Demeter called out as she craned her neck to the side, slowly blinking, trying not to sound irritated.

“Sorry to wake you, Demeter!” the high-pitched voice of Marsha replied. “I just saw you were home. Well, at least I thought you were home with the windows being drawn. There wasn’t your usual car in the driveway, so I was a bit skeptical. Anyways…” her voice trailed off. Demeter rolled her eyes and tuned her out. She was very happy that the couch was not facing the particular window her neighbor peered through. 

Why couldn’t she knock on the door, or even use the doorbell, like a normal person? 

“…and then I woke up to some racket. I could hear some groans…very loud groans and grumbles. And then I heard some pottery smashing, which I saw the bits and pieces all over your yard the next day. You wouldn’t believe it! I couldn’t make it out, with the whole being a new moon and everything, but I couldn’t believe it! And then, and then…” Marsha’s voice started to strain, “there was an earthquake! Or at least, what I think was one. I couldn’t find reports about one, but oh, how my house shook! It broke one of my favorite teacups…”

If I get up now, she will ask for a cup of tea, and I am going to hear the recap of this tale another twenty times. 

This was a continuous routine for Masha. She somehow always ended up seeing Demeter at home and invited herself over. Demeter would oftentimes excuse herself to garden after the afternoon tea. Marsha would stay and continue to tell her all the recent gossip of the very rural neighborhood. Demeter would reply to her casual questions about gardening. None of their conversations were ever noteworthy. 

“Demeter, I was very scared, you see. All the groaning and rumbling!” she shrieked and started to sniffle. “I… I am ashamed to say that I stayed inside, but I couldn’t tell what was going on in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the next day that I came over to check on you. Your cottage looked undisturbed, but your garden—oh, your gorgeous garden! It was in ruins. I couldn’t believe it! I told my sister all about—”

“Marsha, it is okay,” Demeter cut-her off curtly. “Thank you for checking on me. I am very appreciative of your concern, but as I am sure you understand, I am very tired and very disheartened at the moment.” 

As the words left her lips, she could hear some heavier sniffling from her neighbor, and she felt a pang of guilt wash over her. 

“Perhaps…I could have you over for tea later this week.” 

“That would be very lovely, Demeter. I sincerely look forward to it!” Marsha replied happily. “Also…”

Oh, of course, there is more. Demeter rolled her eyes.

“Also, I was able to salvage some of your blackberry bushel…” 

This was not something that she expected at all from her neighbor. Demeter shot up from the couch and rushed towards the door. Marsha stood at the door with a pot outstretched in her hands as Demeter opened it with her widened eyes. To the untrained eye, it only looked like a bunch of dead twigs, but the goddess could tell it was still thriving, even through the abrupt change of environment. Although the soil was a bit over-watered. 

“I had found it way out in the meadows later in the day, torn up from its roots! Most of its branches were crushed, but I tried my best to transplant it into a pot for you. While the events are terrible, it was a good time to harvest it since it is almost spring. I think it is still dormant.” 

She is right. The bushel was in its dormant phase, which may have kept it from completely dying.

“Thank you, Marsha,” Demeter choked, eyes watering with tears. She felt guilty that she didn’t go out in the field to check on the bushel herself, but she was glad that she had such a nosey neighbor who had gotten a green thumb from watching her garden all these years. 

I guess all those random afternoon teas have actually paid off, Demeter thought as she reached for the pot. This bushel may have some missing answers for me about what happened.

“You taught me everything I know about gardening, and I am glad I was of help to you,” Marsha beamed while she handed the pot over to Demeter. “You are my favorite neighbor, you know, such a great listener—”

Oh, please don’t guilt me into hosting you for tea right now. My bushel is in distress. 

“Thank you again, Marsha,” Demeter replied. Some of the over-watered soil splashed onto her forearm as she grasped the pot firmly. Marsha made a small gasp and lurched forward, stepping into the doorway. “I’ve got it, don’t you worry. But I do need to get this into some fresh soil right now.”

Marsha nodded sleepily and gave Demeter a half-smile. “I understand. I look forward to tea time tomorrow afternoon then,” she said as she waved goodbye.

Once Marsha had turned and took a few steps away, Demeter closed the door and hurriedly took the blackberry bush to the backyard. All the upturned soil was better for it than staying in this pot. She carefully transplanted it into the ground. It was so watered down that her hands were soaked. She channeled her Lifebring ability to rejuvenate the blackberry.

Please work, please work. 

The plant sprouted some large leaves and little green sprouts that would eventually turn into berries.

Oh, what a relief, she thought.

“Demeter!” the weak voice of the blackberry plant cried out. “Oh, I am so glad you are here! That lady has always been insufferable.”

Demeter had tears in her eyes again. Oh, geez, I am losing it with my emotions. She let out a hearty laugh.

“I am glad you survived,” Demeter choked back. “Happier than you could ever imagine right now.” Her tears dripped onto the fresh soil. 

“Please don’t cry, everything will be okay,” the blackberry plant replied. Its leaves continued to grow, and Demeter smiled happily.

“What happened to you?”

“It was a cyclops, Demeter, a very large and very angry cyclops. He was hungry. Perhaps the lovely smells of the garden drew him in. He reached for the carrots at first, and then the tomatoes. He wasn’t happy with the taste of either, so he then reached out for me. He didn’t like my thorns. Not that I could help it. They are just a part of me. But he lashed out. He fiddled around for a while, trying to find all my roots, and then eventually scooped me up and threw me into the field. Kept saying that he wanted “nobody” and tossed me all the way into the field!”

Nobody? Was this a depressed cyclops? Why does this seem familiar? I need to do some more reading.

Demeter brushed the soil off her hands as she got up to her feet. There was only a sliver of the sun still shining.

“Thank you for being so brave and surviving the traumatic event, my beautiful blackberry plant. I will bring this cyclops to justice for all of you. In the meantime, watch out for mint…it has been on a bit of a rampage since the incident.”

“Thank you, Demeter. I am so happy to be back home.”

You and me both, she thought, as she walked back into the house, pondering why this cyclops sounded familiar.

Demeter (Ashlyn Grey)
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