Planting (295 words)
Sometimes I climbed the stairs to Gutter’s flat afraid of what I would find at the top. Most of the time, cooking smells came out to meet me, the tendrils of her experiments reaching into the corridors and neighbouring homes. The experiments weren’t always a success, hence my trepidation, but today as I approached her door at the very end of the corridor there was nothing. No smells, no sounds. I glanced at my watch; perhaps I had come too early. I tried the door just in case, and it opened.
Gutter sat on the floor in the middle of the tiny space. A bag of compost coughed up its tarred lungs over her feet and the grubby linoleum. Around her were arranged seed packets, herb plants with supermarket ‘reduced’ stickers on them, and a multitude of pots.
“What on earth are you doing?”
Gutter didn’t look up, too preoccupied with filling a seed tray and levelling off the soil. “I want a herb garden,” she said, as if this was perfectly obvious. “I’m sick of using stuff from the freezer, or running to the shop when I’m out of basil or mint.”
I took off my coat and laid it over the back of a chair, but something caught my eye. There was a small pile of torn, dirty posters lying on the seat of the chair. MISSING, they read, Luca Brevig.
“Where did these come from?”
Gutter gave me a cursory glance, and her eyes took in the posters. She looked away again at once. “Marina, who else?”
“But I meant, where did you find them?”
“All over.” Gutter sighed and tossed aside the tray. Soil scattered across the entire flat. Her shoulders began to shake. “What am I going to do?”
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