Updated: Oct 18, 2019
‘That should just about do it.’
Travis squeezed his garden gloves together and slipped them into the back pocket of his shorts. This stowing of gloves was an unmistakable sign of another hard day’s work coming to an end for Travis. He grabbed the nearby broom and swept at the paving. The remainder of soil flicked back into place. Just how Travis liked it; everything in its proper place.
It was a true sight, even to its creator, after all these years. Lush rose bushes lined the walls of the courtyard. Frangipanis shot beautifully upward from the ground and coloured the sky. Even the ground cover was cleverly sowed in such a spectacular way that it danced in and out of the other flora.
He turned and headed towards the side gate. Almost ready to clock off for the afternoon, Travis smiled for the last time that day for in the corner of his vision, the outer-most sliver of his peripherals, he noticed something. From the centre of the garden bed it glared at him.
A glint of green, a glimmer of growth. Something dreadfully unwelcome had manifested in the epicentre of everything Travis had tirelessly laboured over. As his focus centred he could see exactly what it was. A weed. A solitary weed had infiltrated the garden bed and threatened the perfection of his precious sanctuary.
Travis dove back into the courtyard and retrieved the gloves from his back pocket. He rushed over to the weed and in an irrational state of panic, trampled the edge of his ground cover. The Dichondra squeaked in discomfort.
‘Damn!’ Travis barked.
Travis knelt by the weed, inspecting the intruder. He placed his fingers around the base of the weed, gently at first, feeling for the distinct sensation of unpicking the weed’s root system, and tugged. Nothing. He tugged once more, a little more aggressive this time. Again, nothing. The weed gave no slack and stood firm in position. Travis grabbed at the weed with both hands now and yanked in three consecutive pulls. He had no luck.
Travis hastily headed for his garden shed, retrieving a set of tools he was convinced could solve this dilemma, and returned to his treasured garden. He began to dig out the soil surrounding the weed. Soon, he had dug and troughed right through his weed shield, down at least three feet into the earth. The weed’s root system continued its plummet downward, beyond what he could see.
‘How?’ He contemplated, ‘How could this be?’
Travis was relentless in his attempt to remove the weed. Minutes sailed by. Hours flew past. When all hope to remove it was on the brink of being lost; when Travis himself was on the brink of collapse, he felt the weed give way. Only slightly, but just enough to refuel his determination. He planted his steel-cap boots into the soil, bent his knees, tensed his arms and prepared to drag this hellish weed from existence.
As he pulled at the weed the world seemed to shake around him and he became increasingly dizzy. He sat. The dizziness faded. Too quickly, he thought. He had experienced many a dizzy spell over his lifetime, and this had felt different. He stood up and again tugged at the weed. The result was the same. Then he noticed something strange. Not everything shook when he pulled at the weed. Only the flowers. Only his plants. Only what his courtyard garden had cultivated. He pulled again and noticed this time the movement of the frangipanis. They swayed and shuddered with every twitch of the weed. The rose bushes sank a little into the soil and the groundcover appeared to implode.
‘What is going on?’ Travis shouted, exploding in frustration.
He braced himself and pulled at the weed. This time he kept his eyes locked on a single rose bush, propped up by a bamboo stick. As he pulled, the rose bush began to sink into the pit of soil below. The stem shortened and the bush shed many a beautiful petal as it attempted to slither through the ties that secured it to the bamboo. Travis let go instantly. The rose bush shot back up into its original position. Again, he pulled at the weed. This time he watched as the frangipanis swayed at first and began to shrivel downward. Sinking. Being dragged from below, like they had fell victim to quicksand.
It seemed to Travis that this abomination was somehow connected to his plants. To all his hard work; his blood, sweat and tears. They were connected. Linked, somehow. At each other’s mercy.
Exhausted, Travis collapsed. As if he were liquid fertiliser, he softened into the earth and became one with the soil. He was a perfectionist. He prided himself on how flawless everything in this garden had been. Everything was in order. Always. But not now. This weed challenged him and he had to decide what to do. Was he going to leave this weed in place and allow it to fester in both his courtyard and mind? Or was he going to pull it from the earth and with it everything else? Destroy everything he had worked for, all to spite one single fleck of impurity?
He knew in his heart he couldn’t destroy his garden. So he got up and surveyed the mess he had regrettably fashioned. A tear trickled down his cheek and rolled off his chin. It joined the disappointment and remorse that Travis had tried to leave at the base of the weed’s root system.
He packed away his tools before he could do any more damage. With the shed locked, the pavement clear of soil and the garden in some sense of order, he exited the side gate.
This time, he refused to look back at his prized garden.
The weed would live to see another day. One at least, but hopefully no more. For Travis had lost the battle but was intent on winning the war.
Comment below what you thought about the story. It was written for a short story competition with a restriction of 1,000 words and no theme.
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