Flash Fiction – One Last Try

Margaret hated gardening. That was the lie she’d always told herself to avoid it. The truth was watching something grow with the help of her tender loving care made her heart soar. She didn’t really mind getting dirty. The stress of making sure no birds ate her precious seeds was acceptable. Having to use a water hose because it rarely rained in West Texas was something she could do without complaint. Even delicate plants that need more or less constant attention were not really a big deal. A sore back and aching knees wasn’t asking too much. Sunburn? Well everyone needs vitamin D anyway.

No, the real problem was the vermin. Margaret tried gardening many times throughout her long life. Every time, at some point in the process, one of the pests would show up. Inevitably this occurred once she let her guard down and truly started enjoying herself. She wasn’t afraid of much, but if she had one true phobia, it was of the hungry, jumpy, and deceptively cute monsters. They were sneaky and had sharp teeth.

Thinking about the horrid, treacherous creatures gave her the chills. Talking about them was out of the question. She couldn’t even stand to look at pictures of them.

One bright morning Margaret stood on her back porch wearing old clothes, a floppy hat and a determined scowl. I’m too old for this fear horseshit, she told herself. She knew, soon enough, she wouldn’t be able to get down on the ground and work hard to make something grow. One last try before the end, which her doctor said would be before too long.

She walked to her chosen spot in the yard and checked carefully for anything out of the ordinary. There has never been one of the hated beasts on her property but she wasn’t taking chances. She’d only lived there thirty years, not nearly long enough to be sure one of the little bastards wouldn’t show up.

At first she worked slowly, carefully. As the morning pressed on her confidence grew. Margaret never once let herself get complacent as she worked. Constant vigilance was key. She worked until she got tired, which was much sooner than she’d hoped.

She slept well and woke early, eager to get back to work. And so it went for three days as she got her new garden ready, then planted. She tended her handiwork daily, staying watchful.

Finally it was time for harvest. This was further along in the process than Margaret had ever gotten. She headed out to her garden with joy in her heart. Not even halfway there she saw it. She dropped her bucket and shovel. A terrified screamed escaped her before she really processed what she was seeing.

Sitting in the middle of her garden, gnawing on one of her carrots was of the hated critters. It almost seemed like it was trying to look cute and innocent.

Anger replaced fear. Margaret ran towards the vermin waving her arms, trying to scare it away but it stubbornly held its ground, with only its eyes growing larger to show any sign of reaction.

“Shoo! Shoo!” She yelled.

“Okay, okay lady. It was only one carrot,” said the child who’d desecrated her crops.

Margaret picked her shovel up and followed the kid as he left her yard. She kept her distance in case it changed its mind. It eyed her warily the entire time.

She closed the gate behind the boy and locked it. Walking across the yard she felt a sense of triumph. Margaret had faced her biggest fear and won. Satisfied she went to take a nap, forgetting about the garden.

Well this is what happens when I don’t write for a while. Between my back problems and getting sick this week, my creativity seems to have taken a leave of absence. Still, I’m happy to have written anything.


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