Romance Fiction

I leaned back on the chair facing the backyard garden upon which I had squandered half of my savings. My father bought that extra half-acre land with the last penny of his fortune, just so I could dig it up for nothing.

I looked around, envisaging the blossoming flowers and the fragrant aroma of ripe fruits stagnating in the air. It would’ve been a reminiscence of those summers I grew up in.

I used to spend the vacations at my grandpa’s place. I’d wait all year for the summer, to spend a couple of months at his place.

My grandpa was too old to get his hands soiled, thus he used to stand behind and guide me as I dug up the flower beds, added the right amount of compost, and planted the seeds. We’d learn to grow different fruits every year. We’d sit in the shed and I’d listen amazedly as he told his stories. After storytime, I’d spend the rest of the evening looking at all my efforts ripening into lushly green fruit-laden plants growing taller than me.

Sometimes I'd roam around the garden with my father. My father was more into flowering plants; his favorite was the Buddleia or the butterfly bush. Buddleia is known for attracting butterflies. He used to say, “Flowers are pleasant to look at but butterflies are the real amazeballs.”

Once he made me look closely at the butterflies that hovered over the Buddleia flowers. I was in awe of the varied patterns on their vibrantly colored wings. He told me to gently touch a butterfly resting on a bud. As I approached, it spread out its wings and flew off, showcasing its magnificent asymmetric patterns. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen up close. 

I was brought back to reality when my gaze came upon the tomato plants lined up in front of me in ten pots. Those were the first and only ones in the garden. The plan was to start with tomatoes and gradually progress to other varieties. I staked half the money in setting up the garden and preparing the soil, forecasting a diminished profit in the first time but steadily working its way up.

Things all went south when my father got diagnosed with Stage IV Leukaemia. Medical bills slowly began to pile up. I took out a mortgage loan against the half-acre land. Most of my time went by in the hospital; I only came home to water the plants. This went on for two weeks and before the tomatoes began turning into crimson red, my father took his last breath. 

I had ordered twenty medium-sized pots for the garden before the chaos. They were for radish, spinach, potatoes, and some flowering plants. The delivery service didn’t bother to ask to keep them inside. Neither did I. I’d already paid them upfront so they kept those pots outside the wooden fence surrounding the backyard, rang the bell for signature, and left.

I went inside to make myself some coffee. I wondered what to do with those pots. They had been outside for around three weeks by then, and creepers had climbed on them. I couldn't fathom the point in bringing them in when there wouldn’t be any place to keep them. I decided to leave them outside.

I wanted to sleep for a month straight. If I woke anytime in between, I might go and water the pots. But then I found it a better solution to sell the tomatoes after one or two days when they fully ripen and then bury the plants. I’d buy some Buddelia seeds and add some extra compost when planting them. Buddleias can grow well of their own. After that, I will go for that sleep.

“Gracie… Gracie…”

I heard someone shout in the backyard so I rushed outside. I saw a German Shepherd rummaging through the tomato plants, half-chewing each tomato then leaving it for a new one. I wondered how the dog got inside. I saw a ball lying at a distance and a kid’s voice coming from outside the fence.

I opened the fence door and let the kid in. He rushed to get hold of his dog by the collar. The dog was too distracted by the tomatoes to pay any heed to his master. After a little tussle, the dog backed off the plants.

“I’m sorry about this. I was playing fetch and accidentally threw it inside,” the kid apologized.

“It’s all right buddy. Don’t throw it inside a property next time.”

After they were gone, I went outside to have a look at the reason behind the dog crossing a five-foot-high fence. I saw the pile of pots lying on the ground, some of them broken. The dog had stepped on them to cross the fence. I went inside to take note of the mess that lay in the middle of the garden.

I felt relieved that I was getting that sleep sooner.


I looked at the flower vases kept on display at the storefront. They were undeniably eye-catching, especially the pots and the vases. I’d never seen such beautiful ones. I felt an urge to buy a few of those; the vases. The pride in growing a plant is incomparable to the one you bought from a store.

I went inside the plant shop and the perfumed fragrance residing in the air made me want to throw up. I went to the seeds section, picked up a packet of Buddleia seeds, and walked straight to the payment counter.

A girl stood beside me at the counter. She was signing five-six papers hurriedly without reading them. I presumed that she was buying the shop. Anyway, it wasn’t my concern. I wanted to reach home. I made my payment after the girl left.

I was too tired to take a bus ride because then I had to walk half a mile from the bus stop to my house. I wondered why I was so impatient to buy those seeds. Maybe I was just missing my dad or maybe I was getting too impulsive. I put my thoughts aside and stopped a cab passing by.

As the cab halted in front of me, I heard someone call out for it. I turned around to see that girl from the shop rushing towards us. Our eyes met for half a second before the cabbie asked us our destinations. The girl was going four blocks ahead of my place. We agreed to split the fare and got in.

“Thank you. I’m Alice.”

“I’m Austin.”

She saw the packet of seeds in my hand and asked me if I was a breeder. I replied that it was for my garden. I told her that I saw her inside the shop, signing off the papers at the counter. It turned out that she was signing off the payment slips for the pots and vases they supplied to the shop. She was a craftswoman of some sorts and ran a local business along with her four other friends who made things for decorations and recreations.

I ended up telling my whole story when she asked about me. When I stopped, it made no sense why I blurted out everything. Luckily I didn’t break down. It’s like the dam burst, but there wasn’t any flood.

“What are you going to do now?”

“I have a degree in graphics design. So I might just make something of it.”

“But your heart is in farming. That’s why you weren’t doing graphics designing in the first place, right?”

“I have some plans. Let’s see what lies ahead.”

She nodded and we stayed quiet for a while. I thought about how this goes on in movies. Someone tells a sad story, the other person is moved to tears and their pity turns into love. It felt creepy when I thought about it.

I looked sideways at her. She was busy with her phone, reading comments on Facebook. I let out a quiet sigh. 

The cab suddenly screeched and I grasped the seat tightly as the driver slammed the brakes. A dog had come out of nowhere and was sniffing the road. 

“Get hold of your fricking dog!” he shouted at a man who rushed in and pulled the dog out of the road. 

“Poor soul. They are so naïve.”

I looked at her and then the driver, who looked at her then me through the rear-view mirror.

“Sometimes not in an innocent way,” I smirked.

“I have come across a lot of dog messes today,” she chuckled. “Do you like dogs?”

“I’m more of a cat person but yeah, I do like dogs. It’s pretty evident that you love dogs, right?”

“Yes, I do. I neither like nor hate cats. I’m just very scared of them.”

She continued, “Um, I wanted to tell you that we are looking for a designer to handle our advertising and brochure designs. As it happens, I’m sitting beside one, and if you’re interested, we will like to see your work.”

“Okay, sure. It’s fine with me.”

I cursed myself for my over-enthusiastic response.

We exchanged numbers and she gave me her address. We set up a meeting at her place the next evening. I asked her if it was their office. She said that she grew up there with her parents and the Barnhouse then served the purpose of their office. When I told her, we both were astonished to know that we had lived our entire lives a few blocks away and still never met each other before.

The cab stopped by my place. I paid my share and got off.

“See you tomorrow,” she said, getting her face close to the window.

“Yeah, see you.”

It was the shortest twenty minutes of my life. A part of me wanted to crash on the bed and get up before the next evening, and another part of me wasn’t sleepy anymore.


Six years have passed since that day. A half-an acre of bleak land has expanded into an acre of farmland. I sit under the shed in the middle of the farm, looking at the saplings sprouting and basking in the sun.

I hear Alice calling.

“Missy, come to mommy… Honey, come inside and bring along Missy.”

Missy is our cat who is chasing the butterflies hovering over the Buddleia in our backyard. A cat’s life is the best; sleep eighteen hours a day, get food anytime you wake up, beat the dog, and cry to be let out in the evening to play with the butterflies. 

Alice and I married after dating for two years. We adopted an adorable pup and named him Jesse. We found Missy near the Buddleia one day and decided to take her in. Jesse got a playmate so now Alice and I are finally getting some privacy. We are planning on having kids now.

Alice completely backed me with the funds to set up the farm. I started making generous profits in no time and now two-thirds of our income comes from our YouTube channel. She has always supported me through the risky choices I made and it’s quite rare to find someone who trusts you like that.

I never knew about the Butterfly Effect before; 'one thing affects another’. I came across it online a few days back. I asked Alice if she knew about it. She did. I was quite fascinated by it and ever since it’s been living in my head.

I always wonder what would’ve happened that day, if I had decided to bring inside the pots kept outside the fence, or if the dog didn’t destroy the tomatoes, or if I didn’t go to that plant shop, or Alice and I didn’t share the cab. One different move and life could’ve ended up differently. It’s amazing how our decisions can affect not just our lives but also those around us.

I love Alice a lot. She and the pets are the only family I have. Sometimes I wish I had met her earlier in my life. Damn, I should have spent a vacation or two playing around in my neighborhood. It's funny how everything we want is already nearby, veiled from us by destiny. Blink once at the wrong time and you miss it forever.

Even it’s surprising how Alice chose me. How incompetent I sounded that day in the cab and yet she hired me for the job, which I also left within a year. I won’t even choose myself for the job if I had other options. Maybe the sob story worked on her.

Occasionally I ask Alice what she feels about that day and the cab ride we shared. She still calls it ‘the most expensive cab ride she ever took’.

May 29, 2021 00:46

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