Beyond the tipping point

We stowed the first one under the rose bush; Mike swore the blooms that year were the best he’d ever grown. We dismantled the swing to bury the second, the kids too fixated on their screens to care. But I drew the line at disturbing the patio. It would take more than a few corpses for me to forego sitting with a gin and tonic as the sun spilt orange light across the sky.

When the next one arrived, Mike skimmed a patch of turf from the front lawn. He dug the trench at night, because of the neighbours, but we needn’t have worried. The entire street was a graveyard then.

Yet it soured the atmosphere somewhat. I couldn’t bear to walk past those houses, knowing what lurked behind the garden walls. So even though school was less than half a mile away, I drove the kids there and back, rain or shine. Turned up the music, and the heat or the air con, fixed my gaze on the road.

I wasn’t pleased when Mike scalped the lawn completely to lay down synthetic grass. But I could see it was simpler to roll it back like a carpet and chuck the bodies in the space below. Of course, it was no longer safe for the kids to play there. But the plastic was such a cheerful shade of green.

When the smell threatened to overwhelm us, we petitioned the council. But they had strict rules about waste disposal, and human body parts were barred from both recycling and household refuse bins.

Then the pundits said it was our fault. Our passion for cars and exotic holidays and strawberries airfreighted from China and Peru. Melting ice caps meant the death knell for some low-lying countries. Every purchase came with a couple of cadavers thrown in.

We agreed it was unfortunate. “But what can we do?” Ministers made the decisions, not the likes of Mike and me. They told us to turn down the heating, give up meat and produce our own veg. Had they tried feeding cabbage and carrots to burger-addicted tweens?

Mike did show willing. Bought a rake and promising packets of seeds. But our soil was too shallow. His spade could barely break the surface before it met a barricade of bone.

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in May 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a special interest in fictional therapists. Subscribe to Anne’s newsletter for a free e-book of prize-winning short stories. Her website: Her Twitter: @Annecdotist.

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3 Responses to Beyond the tipping point

  1. abykittiwakewrites says:

    This is the best thing I’ve read in months.

  2. Really, what choice did they have?
    Yikes. Well done.

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