Garden of Arugula and Tiny Tomatoes

I sat in cool bathwater listening as outside my mother and father tore out my lush green plants like weeds—roots clinging to the soil I’d cultivated from seed. My family followed Boilerism, and though I’d also converted I wasn’t as on fire for the mission. My parents proclaimed that in order to better our faith we needed to install a hot tub in the backyard, right on top of my garden, since the soil there was already prepped; I’d loosened it, removed rocks, clogs and roots. I suspected it wasn’t just about conserving space—my mother hated the taste of arugula, and my father ridiculed the size of my baby tomatoes. I wanted to grow things, and that seemed spiritual enough for me. Why boil yourself for God when you could make a nice refreshing salad?

My mother was training to become clergy, so I think that’s how we got the upgraded hot tub with built-in effigy and charcoal barbecue (all the rage in Boilerist circles). When it arrived on the Sabbath, my father called over all the acolytes to help plug it in. They wore terry-cloth bathrobes and danced around the tub with sticks of steak satay. They burned the ice-cube-tray effigy. Mom and dad dived in first. To the surprise of the gathered acolytes they immediately leapt out screaming. Soon the whole group was wailing and flagellating themselves with the dead arugula littered about the portico. It wasn’t that hard to spoil their party. I’d blown out the boiler light. Then I took the baby tomatoes out of the freezer and stuck them in everyone’s shoes.

So started our schism.

Becky Bosshart is a writer/editor who has worked in print and online report- ing for about 10 years. She is serving with the Peace Corps in Ukraine teach- ing university English as part of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ MFA International program. Her fiction has appeared in Metazen and CityLife.