KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Flash Fiction: 560 words

Adam’s Curse

by Bruce Holland Rogers

Sandbur. Bindweed. Knotweed. Spurge. Plantain. Purslane. Compass plant. Jorge had never asked to become an expert in weeds. He just wanted to keep his wife happy, and she wanted a tidy, green yard.

The weeds were the beginning of his weekend chores, but far from the end. The trees needed pruning. The hedge had to be trimmed. Jorge mowed more frequently than he went for a haircut.

“You know,” Jorge said, “a rock garden can be really attractive.”

His wife said, “Nice try.”

Jorge’s sons were born, and when they were old enough, he made them help him on weekends, guaranteeing that his hatred of yard work would pass to the next generation. The boys learned which weeds to poison, which ones to uproot, which to shade out under plastic. Like their father, they became experts in knowledge they didn’t want to have, and both vowed to live in apartments.

Apartment living sounded good to Jorge, too, once the boys had grown up and moved away. But it wasn’t a good time to sell. In the meantime, his wife said, they would get a better price if they replaced some of the tired shrubs with vigorous new ones. “It won’t make a difference,” Jorge pleaded, thinking of how he’d sweat in the dirt and sun, but she argued that he could give her the yard she wanted one last time, and then, when the house sold, he could quit yard work forever.

And she kept her word. Jorge’s hair was solidly gray by the time the house sold, but he left all the tools in the garage for the new owners. He would never have to mow or trim again.

“You know,” he told his wife, “those were a lot of hours of my life devoted to something I didn’t like.”

“Oh, stop it,” she said. “You’re through with it now, so forget it.”

Except that now he wasn’t finished with trimming and mowing after all. Thick hairs sprouted from his ears and his nostrils. The hairs of his eyebrows turned into gray wires. He thought about just letting them grow, but his wife said, “Are you kidding? You’d look like a cactus!”

It was common for men of a certain age to complain of hair sprouting in the wrong places, but Jorge was cursed to an unusual extent. He had to make one pass after another with the electric groomer his wife gave him as a birthday present, and that was just doing his ears and nose. The thing lost its battery charge before he could even start on his eyebrows. And he had to trim every day. His wife bought him a second groomer, one that plugged in. The blades were dull in a month.

“This is what happens,” he said, “when a man has misspent his life. I should have run away when I was still young. I should have sent you money for child support and a gardener.”

His wife laughed. She didn’t know that he was not entirely joking.

The worst was one morning when he looked at his face in the mirror and saw little patches of color among his eyebrows. He leaned closer to the mirror. Green and yellow. The spots were tiny, but even on this scale, Jorge recognized the dark burst of leaves and bright yellow heads of dandelions.

Bruce Holland Rogers
Issue 1, Fall 2014

Lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches writing in the MFA Program at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (Whidbey Writers Workshop), a low-residency program which is unaffiliated with any college or university. It is the first, and thus far the only, program in the United States to be offered by an independent organization of writers.

Rogers also sells subscriptions to his stories * by e-mail at:

[* Note: Annual subscriptions (36 stories) are also available as premiums for readers who wish to support KYSO Flash.]

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Renaissance, a fine example (in 232 words) of the “Fibonacci prose sonnet,” a variation of the Italian sonnet structure as adapted by Rogers for flash fiction, in Flash Fiction Online (August 2010)

Counting and Multiplying: The Birth and Evolution of the Three-Six-Nine, more fun with another challenging fixed form; from the writing series, Technically Speaking, at Flash Fiction Online (December 2008)

Tea Party Rules: The Story Contract, a discussion of the implicit contract between writer and reader; from the writing series, Technically Speaking, at Flash Fiction Online (May 2011)

Numerous links to other writings may also be found on Author’s Page at Flash Fiction Online.

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