Weeding

Thistle

She had just weeded the garden.

Of course, nobody would believe her. Or care.

The flooding, of course, was much more important.

But somehow it mattered to her.

That morning had been cool, cloudy, a bit breezy. And she finally had her act together enough to do something about it. Found the ratty shorts and banged up t-shirt where she left them last time she’d been in the garden three – no, maybe four months ago. They were actually clean, too.

Found her work boots, too. They weren’t so clean. Caked in old mud, there were twigs and leaves stuck to the bottom. She took them outside and knocked them against a rock until the chunks of dried dirt went flying off in all directions. One hit her forehead.

At least it wasn’t my eye, she thought, blinking away the dust.

Found the tools. They were sort of where she thought they’d be. Dirty, but not terrible. They’d do the job.

He’d always said that she should take better care of her tools. Had some idea of a bucket filled with sand and oil that she should store them in. It had never developed into a full fledged fight, but it came close. He wanted her to set it up. She thought if it was such a good idea, he could do it. He said she wouldn’t use it anyway.

Remembering again.

She put the tools down and went back inside. Sat at the kitchen table where she had left her coffee.

It was cold.

The pot was still almost full – she could never finish a whole pot of coffee on her own, but even after he’d left, she still made a whole pot. Every morning. And every afternoon, she’d dump a half full pot of coffee down the drain.

She emptied the mug of cold coffee down the drain and checked her phone. Nothing. Like usual. She thought about making herself another cup, but instead went back outside.

Some of the weeds were as tall as she was. They were actually pretty impressive – spear shaped leaves covered with long yellowish thorns. At least six bulging, spiky bulbs on the tops of the stems, each with purple tufts emerging. Halfway between a flower and a threat.

Thistle, a voice in the back of her brain said.

Oh stop, she told the voice. Why would you know what that thing is called?

As she picked up the loppers, she noticed bees on a couple of the purple flowers. Were they flowers? She supposed they had to be, if bees were interested in them. She hung back a minute, waiting for the bees to do their business before she took the thing down. No need to aggravate the local wildlife.

While she waited, she looked around. This thing might have been the biggest of the weeds in the garden, but it was hardly alone. She could be out here for hours and still not finish the job.

That’s what you get, she told herself, for leaving things alone. But she knew that after today she probably wouldn’t be out here again for more weeks. Months. Whatever.

There was too much else to do. Not that she would necessarily do it, but it was all just too much to think about.

She’d tried. Really. He hadn’t seemed to think so, but she really had tried. It just wasn’t enough for him, and (if she was being honest with herself) it wasn’t enough for her either.

She thought about just leaving the flower/tree/threat to the bees and going back inside, but just then the bees buzzed away, as if they’d decided they didn’t want to be another excuse for her inaction.

Fine. I’ll do it.

For the next two hours she cut, pulled, cleared. She scraped up her arms and legs, gave her thumb a nasty puncture with a thorn on one of the other giant weeds – this one not nearly as interesting looking as the one with the purple flowers. She was getting tired, sweaty, overheated, wasn’t paying as much attention. And now her thumb  hurt. Maybe it was time to stop.

She looked around at the garden. It was better than it had been before, though still not quite good enough.

Tools were scattered around – she hoped she would find them all, but if not, it wouldn’t be the first time. Just the other day, taking the garbage out, she’d noticed a pair of shears sitting under a hedge, covered with rust.

He’d have had a field day with that.

So she gathered the tools, trying to remember where she’d been working and what tools she’d used. Put them back in the shed. Wiped them off, at least, before setting them wherever there was space.

Dragged the bags of weeds to the garbage. Probably she should be composting them or something.

There was always something she should do.

All told, it was only a few hours of effort. She really shouldn’t have cared so much.

But not ten minutes after she went back inside – not even enough time for her to get in the shower – the breeze died down, then the skies opened up and rain started coming down like she hadn’t seen in years. It was crazy. At first it just came straight down, but then the winds picked up again, and it was like something out of a movie. It rained and blew and rained and blew and rained and all she could do was stand by the window and watch.

The walkway from her house became a stream, then a river, then it merged with the driveway, then everything was under water. The wind drove the rain against the windows, and it made such a racket that she didn’t hear when the phone rang.

She finally noticed, but didn’t get to it until it had stopped ringing.

It was him.

Why had he called? He hadn’t called in weeks.

She stared at the phone, at his name, at the picture of him that she kept meaning to change, or delete, or something.

She jumped slightly when the phone buzzed. New voice mail.

Should she listen to the message? Call him back?

She went and made a second cup of coffee, debated getting in the shower, thought about throwing the phone out the window and letting the waters take it away.

Sipping from her mug, she went back to the window. It was still raining. According to the clock, she had been back inside for about three hours.

That was yesterday. The rain still hadn’t stopped.

It would continue for another three days. Slowing sometimes, but never stopping, until the day it finally did stop.

The place where she had been weeding was pretty much washed away. Everything was pretty much washed away.

She did listen to the message, eventually.

He just wanted to make sure she was OK, because he’d heard that there was likely to be a flood.

She would have known that too, she reflected, if she ever bothered checking the news.

But she didn’t.

Behind his voice, in the background of the message, there was a dog barking. Apparently he had a dog now.

Call if you need anything, he’d said.

Instead, she just sent him a text.

‘I’m fine. Thanks for checking.’

 

Posted as part of the September Story A Day challenge (a day late in starting, I know) with inspiration from Chuck Wendig’s August 26 Flash Fiction Challenge, Behold The Idiomatic! My mix-and-match idiom was A Change is Lost. I didn’t use the exact words in the story, but you get the idea. 

Image via Wikipedia.

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16 Responses to Weeding

  1. SCMcCole says:

    Loved the subtle flow and deep resonance of the waters and changing life. Great prose. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kaleiyah-P says:

    ;-; This story wrenches my heart — in a good way, I promise.

    The subtext is so rich that all my questions are answered without having to ask them, and the setting matches her mood and her futile efforts in both her garden and her former love life. This story is so well-crafted. Lovely work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda Dahl says:

    I really enjoyed your story, especially the character arc! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eden says:

    A beautiful story… though, so sorry the thistles are gone now. Finches love them, and they’re so bright and cheery with their colors and songs, it seems she could have used their presence in her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. You’re probably right. I suspect she makes her fair share of ill-advised choices. But she’s trying. In the meantime, I’ll spare the thistles in my own garden, as long as they’re not an imminent threat to anyone.

      Like

  5. kristin says:

    I was hoping she’d just view it as a wild flower garden and leave it. Now I’m going to check this challenge. I just finished the August Postcard Poetry Challenge. A story a day in September sounds good. Maybe I should do them on a postcard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. James Stack says:

    Great idea to use weeds as something to get rid of – like an ex-husband. Her memories of him aren’t so nice, but she’s nice – she thanked him for checking. I have a feeling that the flood also cleansed her. Maybe not since she didn’t throw the picture away. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mdflyn says:

    This is very involving right from the start.

    Liked by 1 person

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