Serial Fiction Beta Reads

Seed, Part 12

Coming Home

Steve Fendt
6 min readNov 9, 2022

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‘Cottage Garden’ | Steve Fendt

Author’s note for this beta read

  • Please go easy on the highlights.
  • Please, please comment! Be as honest as you like.
  • I’m putting all 12 parts up simultaneously. You can use the list at the end to move between parts.
  • Language warning. We’re nearly done with the f-words now, and all out of c-words.

‘Cup of tea-ea-ea!’

The last word rose and fell on a drawn-out argeggio of exasperation, reminding him that he had, yet again, left a mug to stew and grow cold on the kitchen bench.

‘Thanks, Mum!’ he called back in a cadence which hopefully conveyed the right balance of contrition, irritation and affectionate irony. A forty-five-year-old son being told off by his octogenarian mother.

He laid down the brush with a sigh, pulled the Gladwrap carefully over the palette, wiped his hands on a rag, then stepped out of the high-roofed garage, his improvised studio, blinking and shielding his eyes against the strong sunlight.

Walking across the paved courtyard to the kitchen door, he could hear Mum bustling with a vacuum cleaner in the living room. Even at eighty, she was the embodiment of the Protestant work ethic; a living rebuke to her son, he sometimes thought, who inclined more to Proustian idleness punctuated by bursts of frenetic activity.

He felt the mug, removed the tea bag, then put the drink to his lips. Tepid, but salvageable. He put it in the microwave for a quick burst, added a dash of milk, then took it out on to the veranda. As he sipped the now scalding, bitter liquid, his eyes wandered across the late spring flower beds. Mum hadn’t lost her green thumb: he had to give her that. It was a fine imitation of an English cottage garden.

The first withering blast of summer heat would spoil the illusion soon enough. In the meantime, aquilegias nodded their fancy bonnets in washed-out shades of yellow, violet and orange. Bees worked the drooping purple heads of sage and the tiny mauve flowers of thyme. Some of the apple trees were in blossom still; others already in fresh, green leaf. Over in the corner by the fence the…

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Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.