The first draft of a much larger idea; a bitter, widowed step-mother in charge of her uplifting and magical step-daughter, her jealousies, and her attempts to stomp out the girl’s spirit.
Miranda stood on her apartment’s balcony, watching Laura, sipping on her morning’s first cup of coffee and chain smoking her way through another cigarette. She stood, and she watched, and all she could think was, “You little cunt.”
Once upon a time, before Laura had come around, that tiny Eden had been dirt, and not even pretty dirt. It had been ignored and neglected by the neighbors as just an area that would have been put to better use as a few extra square feet to their otherwise overpriced and underspaced town homes. Miranda had tried to grow a few vegetables and herbs herself, but to no avail. Sunlight only filled the shaft every day at noon, and that was on good days. It had been dank and musty and almost a dungeon. Now, however, it bloomed with vibrant colors and exotic scents. Even those dirty slate walls had begun to crawl with ivy. And the animals; they surrounded Laura like she was a golden Goddess, perched on her shoulders, wrapped about her ankles, chittering and squawking happily.. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, even a rat or two. They surrounded her and they helped her, nipping vines and trimming petals and digging weeds (if there were truly any weeds in that perfect patch of Heaven) with their little claws and teeth. A bluebird put a sprig of what looked like mint into Laura’s long, lusty blonde curls. The perfect, corkscrew curls bounced and jangled with her lilting giggles.
“Seriously. Fuck you, you little cunt.” Miranda murmured.
The friendliest any animals got towards her was a fat black spider, which she largely ignored and occasionally threatened. This morning it had left the message, “YOUR GREAT!” spun in large, rudimentary words into a web. Miranda sighed, exhaled a whisp of smoke into the dew dropped strands. They twanged, yielded, then fell apart into ghostly drifts of silk. Somewhere, a spider sighed.
Even the goddamned coffee was good. Laura made it every morning. It was hard to believe it was a run-of-the-mill cup of Folgers. Its aroma was fresh from a Colombian jungle forest picked by the small, tired hands of migrant workers. Its taste was rich with hazelnut and cream, though she took it black. She never demanded the coffee. It was not part and parcel of an endless and unfair list of chores. It was all part of Laura’s morning routine; shower, coffee, fixing them both scrambled eggs and crisp brown toast, and working in her garden, playing with her animals. She did Zumba on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It simply disgusted her. There was no complexity or ambiguousness about her feelings towards the girl. She knew exactly what it was, and did not try to hide with fancy words or psychoanalytical claptrap.
It was jealousy, pure and simple.
Jealousy for everything that Laura was, and jealousy for everything Miranda wasn’t.
The garden was just one metaphor for their entire relationship; the first day Miranda walked into that plot of urban grime with a handful of cucumber and basil seeds, she knew the odds were against her. Spade in hand, she planted anyhow. Dressed in clumsy and beaten overalls and work gloves, she worked with heart, sweat, and toil. She cared those seeds, and all for naught. A sprout broke the surface and was strangled by smog and weeds shortly thereafter.
Laura, however, barely batting an eyelash or breaking a sweat, created all of this. Effortlessly, gracefully, dressed in her shimmering blue slip (the neighbors did not stare lewdly or with disgust but sat enraptured, much like Laura’s animal friends) and created perfection. She didn’t need that solitary noon sunlight; she was the sunlight.
There were, of course, the other contrasts brought about by life and gravity. Those perfect corkscrew curls as compared to dark split ends and occasional dandruff. High, perky breasts as compared to the ravages time had put upon Miranda’s tits. Tall and thin; short and middle aged.
Yes, jealousy was the engine that drove her hate, and it seemed particularly overpowering this early summer morning. It had all become too much.
She didn’t wish Laura harm. As she watched her from the shadows of her balcony, there was no bloodlust or vivid violent fantasy running through her imagination. In fact, the idea of something happening to Laura, physically happening to her, made Miranda uncomfortable and queasy; with the death of the girl’s father, Laura was her charge. Miranda may have failed at gardening or a maintaining a long, successful marriage (just to name a few), but she’d be damned if she couldn’t keep a teenage girl alive.
She just wanted to take the bitch down a notch.