They Made No Bones: Part sixteen

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“Bees? You’re going to use bees?” Mamma Universe stared at The Gardener in disbelief. The woman was obviously crazy.

“Well, not just bees. There’s a complex interplay of conditions. The story, and its writer, are important too.”

“That would make a change to how important writers and stories normally are, I expect.”

“Probably, I wouldn’t know. Most of the time I’m too busy taking care of all of this.” The Gardener made an expansive gesture with her arm to indicate the part of the garden that was directly in front of them. It was the kind of lazy arm-sweep that said: ‘You know? All of this stuff that you can see, as well as a lot more of the stuff that you can’t’. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

The two women were seated in comfortable chairs on the front veranda of The Gardener’s homestead – at least, that’s what the Gardener called her home. Mamma Universe had limited experience with building nomenclature, and so wasn’t really up to speed on the difference between types of house. For all she knew, The Gardener’s house could just as easily be a bungalow, or cottage; perhaps even a ‘cottalo’ or ‘bungalage’. As it was, Mamma Universe decided it was better just to accept The Gardener’s definition. What was undisputable, was that the garden was very beautiful, and very large.

The exact size of the garden, had been a matter of some dispute between Ajax and Persephone, the two Historian-Philosophers that had taken Mamma Universe to meet The Gardener. The fight started, as fights sometimes do, as the result of what seemed like a perfectly harmless observation by Ajax. He had commented to Mamma Universe – as they wound their way through a particularly nice section of rainforest – that they were, in fact, in the garden now. Persephone had commented that, in fact, they had always been in the garden, since the whole afterlife for the extinct was the garden. Ajax had objected that of course he knew that, and it was really what he had meant by his initial comment. Moreover, Ajax had continued, all afterlives were technically part of the garden, a fact that Persephone herself had neglected to mention. Persephone then objected that she had neglected no such thing, it was implied by her correction to Ajax’s comment, and that Ajax was an idiot. And so the fight had continued through sundry garden landscapes, until they reached the homestead, at which point the two Historian-Philosophers broke off the argument long enough for introductions to be made.

“I’m curious,” Mamma Universe said, “that writer – the one who’s going to do something with the bees – he didn’t seem that pleased to see me. Why do you think that was?”

“You mean Azeal?”

“That’s the one.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Nothing much, just the way he mumbled under his breath once I’d been introduced. That, and the way he stormed off afterwards.”

“Oh, that. I wouldn’t worry about it. I expect he was just a little surprised by your appearance.”

“Surprised?”

“Yes. You’re not quite what he expected. Being an artistic type, he probably took it a little personally that you don’t look the way he imagined.”

“But,” said Mamma Universe, feeling a little hurt, “I’m beautiful.”

The Gardener smiled. “It’s true, you are. It’s only he was expecting you to look a bit more traditional.”

“Traditional? Traditional in what way?”

“For a start, I suppose he expected you to have skin that was less transparent. You know, more sort of opaquely skin-colored. Possibly, he was also a little shocked to see stars and galaxies moving around underneath it. Not something you see everyday, you know. When was the last time you met someone who was a representation of the universe?”

“Never, I guess. But, to the best of my knowledge, I am – or was – the only being of my kind.”

“So true, so very true. Probably that put out our Mr. Azeal Braithwaite, too.”

“I don’t see why it should.”

“No? Well, as he’s an artist of sorts, he probably likes to think of himself as being quite unique; artists often do. It’s a complete fiction of course, and so when an artist meets something that really is unique, it can be a bit of a challenge to his or her self image.”

“That,” said Mamma Universe, with a slightly petulant tone, “seems more than a little childish.”

“Agreed.”

The conversation lapsed, while Mamma Universe considered the possibility that an artist’s conceit could stop him appreciating just how amazing to look at she was. The silence was filled with the distant sound of two voices bickering. It came from The Gardener’s kitchen, which was located somewhere near the back of the homestead. Ajax and Persephone, Mamma Universe realized. They’d been sent there to make lemonade, and fetch some cake for an afternoon snack. From the snatches of argument that could be heard, Mamma Universe guessed they were engaged in a heated discussion about the right way to squeeze a lemon, the correct ratio of sugar to citric acid, and how best to filter the water. Clearly, no one would be getting lemonade, or cake, anytime soon.

“Still,” Mamma Universe began again, “I don’t see why Azeal’s failure of imagination necessitated his stalking off in a sulk. It’s hardly my fault that I’m incredible. It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose.”

“That’s true, of course,” The Gardener said, kindly, “and I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Only, he’s a bit of a perfectionist, so I imagine he had to go off and make corrections to his story.”

“Why should he have to do that?”

“Probably because he wants the description of you in his story to match how you look in person. He’s terribly obsessed with what he calls ‘narrative realism’.”

“Because I’m the main character in the story?”

“Yes.”

“A story where I’m a detective solving the murder of his publisher?”

“Correct.”

“On Earth?”

“That’s the gist of it, yes.”

“But that’s ridiculous.”

“Very.”

“I mean, I’ve never even been a detective. I’ve certainly never cared much about murders. I was only briefly concerned about my own untimely death, but stopped caring pretty quickly.”

“Seems fair enough.”

“My point,”Mamma Universe said, just in case The Gardener wasn’t getting it, “Is that there is nothing realistic about me being a detective on Earth, so I’m not sure why there should be such an obsessive concern with also describing how I look in a realistic way.”

The Gardener gave the appearance of considering what Mamma Universe had said. “I think Azeal calls it ‘artistic licence’… or was it ‘poetic licentiousness’? I forget. Anyway, it’s not really important. To be fair, Azeal had to include both you, as the main character, and Earth, as the setting. They’re key story elements. I’m sure he’s done his best.”

“I’m sure he has.” Mamma Universe’s tone suggested that she wasn’t really that sure at all, but she decided not press the point any further. “I am curious, though, why does the story have to be about me and be set on Earth? For that matter, why does there have to be a story at all?”

“Both excellent questions.”

“Do they have answers?”

“Most assuredy.” The Gardener’s eyes twinkled with mischievous evasiveness.

“Can I hear these answers?”

“If you think it would help.”

“I believe it might help.”

“You want the short or long answers?”

“Let’s try the short ones.”

“Okay, I’ll try to explain as succinctly as I can.” The Gardener scratched her chin to demonstrate that she was thinking. “It all has to do with power and connection.”

“Perhaps you could try for some middle length answers. I feel like I need a little bit more.”

“Really? I guess some more detail would be useful. Would you like me to also include a little about the bees, too?”

“I’d be grateful if you did.”

“Alright then, let’s see.” It would be difficult to answer those questions in detail, The Gardener realized. So much of the information had to remain hidden, because it would reveal more than Mamma Universe was, within the rules of engagement, actually allowed to know. But, there was a way. It came close to cheating – perilously close – but never really crossed the line. “There is a power in stories,” The Gardener began, “so long as they are written by the right kind of soul….”

END OF PART SIXTEEN

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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