The Hedges Flank the Door on Lorne Street

for my Aunt Julie

“They’re not cast-iron,” she said. “I don’t know what they are.”

“Heavy.”

“Yeah, real heavy. They don’t rust, though. Maybe stainless steel? They’re pretty old. 1960s, early 1960s.” She did something complicated to the handle and it came off in her hand. “Take this off, you can use them as casserole dishes.”

“Neat.” The lawn was brown and dying, scorched by the summer sun. There was a water ban on. Where the moss had started to take over, the lawn was the color of an old boot. “How much you want for it?”

“It only goes as a set.”

“No, that’s fair enough. How much?”

She squinted up at the sun, face weathered and tight under the wide brim of her hat. “Oh… say fifty dollars.”

“Thirty.” She shook her head. “Forty.”

She shrugged. “Yeah, all right. Forty’s fair.” She took the pair of twenties and folded them into the hip pocket of her jeans. “Take good care of these pots.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m not planning on throwing them off the roof, if that’s what you mean.”

She leaned forward intently. “No, listen, there’s a lot of history in those pots. Lot of memories. Tell me you’ll take good care of them.” Her throat worked drily to swallow. “Even if you’re lying, tell me you’ll take good care of them. They were my mother’s.”

“Yeah.” Overhead, a single engine plane droned past, heading toward the weedy private airport on the other side of the woods. They both watched it, faces hungry and taut. “Yeah, I’ll take care of them. Don’t you worry.”

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