“Look at that thing,” her mother sniffs, drumming her fingers irritably on her coffee cup, rings clinking against the porcelain. “Tacky or what.”
Angie shrugs. Like so often, it seems the safest response.
“The landscapers said it must be bolted to the ground somehow. They’re going to have to take a sledgehammer to it or something to get rid of it.”
“You could leave it,” Angie suggests, surprising herself. “Put a planter in front of it or something.”
Her mother looks at her briefly, without expression except for a single baffled line between her manicured brows. She drains the cup without responding. Angie picks at a loose thread on her sweater. Around them the outlines of the raised beds are crisp and golden—fresh-sawn, aromatic. The scraggly, twisted line of a tree, still bare, pokes up beside one of them. Dylan must have come by earlier this morning; the grass is shorn down, not neat exactly, but contained.
“I’m going to be late. Put this in the sink for me, would you?” Angie shrugs, accepts the cup. Her mother flicks a bug off her arm, bumps her cheek with a business-like kiss. “And if you see that boy from next door, tell him to please sweep the patio next time when he’s done. There’s grass clippings all over it. We'll civilize this place yet.”
The door slides closed behind her with a squeak of protest, and silence settles over the yard. Without her mother or her delegates there to animate it with purpose, vision, order, it seems bare and unfinished. Forlorn. The statue sits in the middle of it, knee-high and absurd, as out of place as Angie.
“Sorry,” Angie murmurs to it, reaching out to trace its full lips with one finger. “She doesn’t really mean it.”
As she withdraws her hand, as she draws a breath, the thin spring light seems to thicken and slow around her, and as she watches, the statue opens its eyes. They’re solid pools, wide and deep, green as shaded woods.
All around there’s a whisper, a ripple in the grass as if in strong wind, but the air on Angie’s face is cool and still. The raised beds are withering, graying, dropping away—no, it’s the grass that’s growing, rustling, sprouting tall silver thistles, spires of Queen Anne’s Lace opening white umbrellas, fireworks of blue chicory dotting the yard. The tree creaks and undulates, dancing, throws out twisted branches in a fountain of lacy red leaves. Its shadow stretches over the pavers at Angie’s feet as they spiderweb with cracks and sink away beneath her. She sees the coffee cup fall without feeling it leave her fingers; it breaks in pieces and the dirt swallows them like water absorbing stones.
The paint melts off the statue and the rainy streaks pour over it in streaming tendrils until it’s robed in dreaming green. Bindweed snakes over its shoulders. Opens a pale moon of a flower in its cupped palms.
The statue looks at Angie and its lips curve in a smile—a kind smile, sudden and warm as the sun breaking through the clouds.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” it whispers.