Monday, November 9, 2009

Chapter 2

Oh no, I thought. What HAVE I gotten myself into? When I had moved to Fallowdale early in the spring, I had only seen the backyard for a glimpse before Elsa steered me and the boxes back inside. Since then, it had really fallen into disrepair. I pinched the bridge of my nose, recalling all the times well-meaning and enterprising boys had knocked on my door, asking to cut or water my lawn or do any other odd jobs and I shrugged and said "No, I'm afraid not." And that was before the temperature had risen, and the "dog days" hadn't even come yet.
I straightened up, squaring my shoulders. Some dead grass wasn't going to stop me. I marched across the scorching lawn. The seed packets in my dress pocket rattled and shook with each movement.
I had remembered Elsa had mentioned (fleetingly, because she hadn't cared that much) there was a little partioned section that be good for gardening 'or what have you,' as she put it. Examining it closer, it was indeed small. I thought, ever the optimist, Well, it is big enough for what I need it for.
Patriotic duty and maybe even guilt had made come all this way but the glaring truth finally struck me: I didn't know a thing about gardening. I hadn't much experience with it. My mother had a windowbox but she didn't let me in on the techniques she used to keep the flowers from wilting over the side and drying up. She didn't have any magic tricks, I would just spy her going back and forth with a small mug of water to water them. It couldn't be harder than that, right?
Even with basic knowledge, I knew the ground was far too hard and dry to nourish young plants. I scratched at the soil with my fingernail. It left a jagged, shallow line on the ground. (and a crescent of dirt under my nail) I stood up, the blood rushing back into my legs. I would definitely need tools. From the fence to my right, I heard Ms. Kester-Stevens puttering around her gardening, humming tunelessly. I thought, Maybe I could ask her-but I stopped myself. I had already gotten her involved in my life enough. I should have kept my emotions in better check, then I wouldn't be in this mess. Not to mention, she assumed I knew something about planting, at the very least had a...shovel. I looked back at the open back door. Did I even HAVE a shovel? I quickly stood up, ignoring the rush of blood back to my legs and the prickling sensation, and rushed through the door. I wrenched open boxes, rummaging in the hallway closets. I tossed a odd jacket down on the floor in aggravation. Nothing. I didn't have ANYTHING that could break that hard ground. Maybe...
On a hunch, I went downstairs and into the kitchen. My mother-in-law Elsa had given me some kitchen utensils that pooled with the things my mother had passed down. I picked over the items in the drawer quizzically.
Salad tongs? No.
Kebab sticks?
No. What? Why did she give me these?
A large metal straining spoon?
It would have to do. I stepped back into the backyard. Was it me or did it seem warmer? The sun was in more or less the same position as it was when I went back into the house, not that I could really read the time from where the sun was in the sky. I stalked back to the proposed gardening site, clutching the spoon like letting go of it meant failure. I crouched down again and gripped the spoon in my right hand. With an anguished grunt, I pierced the ground with the tip of the spoon. It yielded slightly. I scooped the small mound of dirt and tossed it to the side. I knelt down in shoveled the spoon in again. It clunked against something. I wrenched the spoon around the obstruction, trying move it. I could feel the metal of the spoon start to warp and I dropped it aside and pulled out the object with my stubby fingernails, which turned out to be a lumpy stone. I almost threw it against the fence in aggravation. I huffed and continued to dig with the spoon. In my peripheral vision, I could see just beyond a stalks of dandelions standing obstinately in the stiff humidity. I crawled forward, probably staining my smart emerald green wrap dress. I grabbed
Saturday morning
the stalks and attempted to rip out. It almost felt like I was strangling it. The dandelion came out, a chunky brown bunch of roots and dirt clods. My palms stung but I felt vindicated...until I spotted four or five more dandelions
last day, sunday night

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