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It’s the sunshine you have to blame; the honeyed rays beating down on the pristine lawn which does it. Stuffs everything up for me and poor old Mrs Potts who lives next door but one.
You see, she’s the other neighbour, another one who has to live beside the Rose family with their flourishing bushes and immaculate flowerbeds. I tell you, it’s unbearable.
Sometimes I have this overwhelming urge to cry; often it consumes me in the half hour or so before I go to bed. I have to stuff a fist to my mouth and close my eyes. I won’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I won’t.
But there’s something odd about those sunflowers next door – they seem almost human; the way they stand and peer over my fence looking right into my garden as though they’re sentinels on patrol. The sight of them makes me shrink away from my window, draping the curtain around me for protection. It’s childish, I know, but there’s comfort in certain ideas, and this idea acts like my very own pillow.
I’ve spoken to George about it on numerous occasions but he just tells me to stop being a busybody, and to come away from the window. Which I do, rather reluctantly.
The sunflowers grow at an alarming rate, sunning their feathered heads from the first ray of sunlight to its demise in the evening, where they are swallowed by cloud. I watch them turn in their majestic way, pirouetting like ballerinas to soak up the wholesome sunlight. And then their eyes stare back, perfect umber satellite dishes framed with mustard yellow petals. They are a silent army keeping watch on mine and old Mrs Potts’ inferior plants.
Of course my dahlias and lilies are terrified to expose themselves to the world when their only companions are hungry sunflowers devouring the life from them. I can only wonder at what old Mrs Potts’ geraniums and delphiniums do when sunflower neighbours come a-peering. Stick their heads in the soil most probably. And I’m certain they’re to blame for my withered poppy patch, their crepe paper heads scattered across the lawn like cheap confetti.
They’re watching me now, silently drinking me in: me features, my movements, my shape. They don’t move, they don’t blink, but remain staring vacantly in at me through my kitchen window. The blind comes down like a super speed camera shutter sealing me inside, keeping them outside.
But it’s not enough. It’s never enough. They have ways of infiltrating my thoughts, my subconscious, blossoming in my dreams, sprouting up in my daydreams. They are bold and constant like an unwanted tattoo stamped on the inside of my eyelids. They are a threat to the diverse species of plant life which grow on either sides of the fence.
So I know what I must do.
They are waiting for me in the shed, discreetly concealed inside a fabric pouch. I take them out and squeeze the rubber handles. They are pleasantly cool, mirroring the look I get from them.
I go into the garden and pretend I’m pruning the hedge, clipping higher and higher, the silver flashes of the blades like fork lightning as the heads come away resembling giant pompoms – sunshine globes crashing to the ground, finally snuffed out. A relieved smile shines its way across my face as I await the wrath of the not-so-perfect Roses next door.