The lot was hedged with thick shrubs and squat bushes. Where there were gaps, there was fence. Nice, tall ,plank fence. Miller stared up at the moon with wet eyes and spoke quietly to no one. He picked up the spade and knelt beside the garden. A small rectangle of tilled earth adjacent to the unused garage. He gouged and turned the soil and watched the dislodged worms as they squirmed and wriggled back into hiding. He swiveled and took one handle of the black cargo bag that sat on the grass. He unzipped it and took out his newest trophy.
The pale green silk of the handkerchief had darkened from the blood that soaked it. He looked at the heart in the moonlight; a fist of glistening black muscle. It had held all of her love. He gently placed it in the furrow and covered it with dirt. He picked up the small marker he had made, a ruler-sized sliver of wood with a name written upon it in flowing cursive. This one was Emily. She had actually kissed him. Her lips dry and trembling, tasting of fruit flavored wax. He picked up the watering can and sprinkled its contents over the tiny mound, as well as the six other marked mounds and their name stakes…
Mary, the one who had held his hand.
Thelma, the tall girl with the birthmark over her ear. She talked to him for hours, but never listened.
Carrie, plain and sweet but so full of self loathing. Sara, the dark haired dirty girl, her eager hands were her downfall.
Alice, she wanted money and fame and was gone as soon as it was made clear Miller could supply neither.
Patricia, the quiet girl. She smiled and listened and did all the right things, but in the end, she was not the one.
His knees popped as he stood and looked at the garden and the markers. It was like a miniature cemetery. He went back into the house to get something to eat and to prepare for his evening.
Loneliness is a lot like a too big room or ill fitting clothes. These girls. These girls all been loved by him but at some point sought to leave him. They all broke his heart. He knew it was not their fault. The heart is a seed. It can only grow as much as the hull will allow and if the seed is damaged or sick, then it will grow monstrous and wrong. If you love something set it free…
He decided to free the seeds and plant anew. He stood at the kitchen window and watched the moonlight soak his garden. And as he chewed, he saw the ripples in the soil. Small rolling waves. He saw the fingers as they sprouted from the earth and reached towards the sky. He saw the arms extend. They were growing. He saw the arms and heads break through the earth, the moonlight painted dusty breasts silver. It was working. My God, it was working!
He sat at the table and straightened his tie. Seven heart-shaped boxes of candy and seven single roses waited on the wooden surface. He heard muffled groans and the sound of bare feet on patio tile. The cloying smell of earth and something deeper was coming through the window screen. He licked his fingers, smoothed down his hair, and wished he had a mint.