All Stories, Fantasy

Your Garden of Contempt Dominique Margolis

Dear father, I’m sorry you think that I have been such a despicable daughter, but I wish you health and happiness so that you may spend yet another wonderful birthday in your Garden of Contempt for me! You’ve indeed worked long and hard to make that space luxuriant, so you deserve to kick back and enjoy!

By the way, your landlady called me yesterday as I waited in line to buy an international stamp for your eighty-fifth birthday card. I was surprised because you’d led me to believe that you held title to your Garden of Contempt for me. She clarified, though, that plots in the Garden of Contempt for your own children cannot be bought, only leased for life. She also said that you were in debt. It’s a huge amount and I can’t settle it for you. She reassured me that nobody will come knocking at my door after you die to demand payment for the debt that you incurred, but she wanted to know if I wished to buy you a small parting gift. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, and I told her that you’d never appreciated my gifts anyway, but she cut short our call as she was about to meet with the new management team (she just sold her business). She did, however, ask me to drive to the entrance gate closest to my house and speak with the Cerberus who’s been patrolling the perimeter of the plot that you have been tilling since I was born.

I became sceptical, thought that the landlady was a prank caller, but in the blink of an eye, I was at the gate. There was a sign “Garden of Contempt – under new management!” I moved closer to the wrought iron gate and read what all the little signs said: “You must pay to enter. Payment is due upfront. You must settle your debt. Anyone caught jumping the fence will be electrocuted.”

Thousands of parents were frantically coming and going! They spoke American and many other languages, just like people do here in Los Angeles, but they all looked distressed. There was also a sea of large molehills around the entrance. Some parents, gasping for air, were sticking their heads out and screaming because their bodies had gotten stuck in the underground tunnels, and they couldn’t get out. I figured that, since you’d always been afraid of flying, maybe you had also burrowed thousands of miles under the Atlantic Ocean and the North American continent to get closer to me. Suddenly terrified of taking one wrong step and sliding into hostile territory half-way around the world or into your French hunting grounds, I froze.

The Garden of Contempt’s concierge, my mother’s age, called me over in French and snapped me back to reality. I repeated, in English, what your landlady had said. The concierge asked me to follow her into her office, which was tiny but freshly limewashed and strangely reminiscent of the apartment in which I had grown up with my mother (that bitch). I began to explain that you would try to convince new management that they should forgive your debt (my mother was despicable, so was I, your new wife could testify, and you did pay child support), but the Cerberus arrived before I could expand on your God-given manipulation skills and on your proven track record at income tax and child support evasion.

“So, would you like to buy your father a parting present?” asked the three-headed dog. He was peeking in through the small windows and had to remain outside because his stature would have split the roof beams, but he explained that I could buy a late-stage birthday cake worth 20€. A $20 bill would do since euros and dollars were now almost at parity. He reminded me that 20 € was the amount, converted from anciens francs to euros and adjusted for inflation, that you had paid in child support each month until my eighteenth birthday while you lived in a mansion with your new wife.

I bought one cake and chose an organic whipped cream decoration. The Cerberus will greet you in person with it the next time you come around, which should be soon. As for your wheelchair-pushing wife, the cake should be big enough for two.

Dominique Margolis

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay – chocolate cake decorated with cream swirls and cherries.

12 thoughts on “Your Garden of Contempt Dominique Margolis”

  1. Brilliant! Such an inventive mix of mythology and the contemporary everydayness of life. I really enjoy the provocative, accusatory tone of the writing as well – it creates a great sense of character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paul,
      I cherish your comment, especially as I grapple with a tendency to think that my writing is never good and inventive enough! So glad that “Your Garden of Contempt” was a satisfying read for you.
      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dominique
    This is impressive in many ways, but for me it is the sustained tone that gets it over. The images become increasingly vivid as it rolls along. The Garden appears to be selling “Indulgences” at the southern location of the hereafter. Very good stuff.


    1. Hi Leila,
      Indulgences? Yes! It fits perfectly, and I hadn’t thought of that word to allude to what is going on in that Garden of Contempt. As I was writing, though, the thought of moral corruption and character impairment packaged in a lush garden for sale in exchange for a good conscience gave rise to contempt for that thought within me, which is probably why I could sustain that tone throughout. Thank you!
      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Dominique,
    Fantasy isn’t really my thing and I like my references to Hell to be more Hellish. However I thought this was excellent!
    The tone tied in superbly well to the title, you can read the contempt!
    I think that this is a very skilful piece of writing.
    Whenever I read a genre that I don’t normal enjoy but find myself doing so – I need to tip my hat to the writer!
    All the very best.


    1. Hi Hugh!
      I don’t usually write fantasy either! The piece came to me in a 300-word flash that I wrote down as if I were taking notes dictated by somebody else. Then, I worked on it for a couple of months on and off. Thank you for commenting on the skills and tone. I felt intimidated by the genre this piece “arrived” to me in, so I worked particularly hard to make it worthy of that genre!
      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looking at the way kids are permanently affected, made bitter by parents’ divorce and separation, and in this case the father’s distancing.. he chose his own self-centredness over the kid’s need for connection and guidance. I like the buying of the cake from Cerberus… “let them eat cake.” There’s a sweet tone of vengeance there.


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