By Michala Zappia

She pushed aside sheer curtains and looked past the window at the garden. Well, what used to be a garden. The place once beautifully overflowing with squashes, tomatoes, carrots, zucchinis, berries, and various flowers was overrun by choking weeds and dry, hardened stems. She sighed as she considered the beauty and flourishing that once inhabited that area between the shady maple tree and the small koi pond. She stepped back, allowing the sheer curtains to fall back into place.

She had been looking at the weedy mess for the past four months. When the weeds first began to protrude, she stared at them each morning from bed, ignoring them with quiet, unrealistic hope that the area would clear on its own, allowing her to place new plants in the empty area. When they began to take over more than she ever expected, she went outside and quickly yanked the weeds up, tearing them off at the surface. Much to her dismay, they sprang back up quickly. She next attempted to care for the problem by mowing them over, failing to realize that this was not only a temporary solution to the weed problem, but also a destroyer of what was left of her blooming plants. That was her final attempt at rectifying the weed problem and chose instead to ignore it all together. Months had come and gone, and she was left with deeply rooted weeds, some reaching nearly three feet in height.

She collapsed onto the chair in the corner of her room and placed her face in her hands. She was consumed by thoughts of the overgrown garden; an eye sore, the source of her deepest frustrations which she faced every morning as soon as she woke up, and that haunted her everyday as she looked out one of the many windows facing the garden. With a flash of motivation, she stood up and walked to the shed outside. She shoved her hands into her gloves, grabbed her gardening tools, and said a silent prayer. After months of avoiding this despised task, she had no other choice but to finally care for her garden.  

When she first planted the garden, she had no idea the amount of work that would have to go into tending to it. She romanticized the work, naively believing that once she planted the seeds, the garden would tend to itself, but she quickly realized that it would be much more difficult than she originally thought. Now, she dreaded the task of undoing what she had previously done. All that she originally put into planting and tending to the garden months ago: gone without a trace, leaving behind nothing but choking weeds.

Onto her knees she went; first, she attempted to pull a small weed, about five inches in height, out from its base to no avail. She grabbed her trowel and began to dig around the base. She followed the side of the root, hoping to dig deep enough to retrieve the root in its entirety. If she was going to go to all this trouble—again—she was going to do it right. After digging six inches down, she had yet to reach the tip of the root, but she grabbed it anyway, as far down as she could, and pulled. She struggled, the root was still deep, and the soil was hard. When she finally freed it, she stared at the uprooted weed in her hand, shocked at the length of the root – almost twice the length of the weed itself, broken as if more of the root was still wedged deep in the soil.

She wiped the sweat off of her brow and moved to the next weed. As she dug, she fantasized about having a blank slate by the end of the day and she was motivated by the possibility of planting new plants the next day. She quickly calculated the estimated time it would take to finish her task; she didn’t like her calculation, but she pushed ahead, hoping for a miracle. Once she had dug a few inches down, she pulled this weed from its base, and it freed easily.

She continued her task for the rest of the afternoon, pulling weeds of various depths and difficulties. As the sun began to set, she looked up to examine the progress she had made; it wasn’t much. Frustrated, tired, and hungry, she went inside for the night.

For the next few days, she continued to work on the garden for most of the afternoon. From the first day, she knew the task would be time consuming, but it seemed to take up every waking hour, every waking thought. Her progress was obstructed by the still large, ever-encroaching weeds when she looked out of her window from her bed. When she woke up, her first thought was the garden; when she rolled over, the first thing she saw was the garden; morning and night was filled with the weedy garden.

On the sixth day of her task, she went outside excited to pull the last patch of weeds from her garden. She was already beginning to feel better. She anticipated waking to the view of a flourishing garden once again. She walked to the clear side of the garden and noticed a few small, green plants, springing up in the barren area she had already cleared. She examined them, quickly concluding it must be a new patch of weeds.

“OH, YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!” She screamed, drawing attention from her elderly neighbors who had taken to watching her from their front porch.  

“You know what, I’m done. I’m not going to do this anymore.” She stomped toward the house, but quickly corrected her course and returned to the garden. She bent down to look more closely at the new patch of greenery.

“And you! You just couldn’t wait could you?” She laid down on her back to stare at the sky, inhaling deeply in an attempt to calm herself.  “This will never end. I’ve been out here, all day, every day, for the last week, digging and digging, for what? So these stupid weeds can just keep coming back? Is this some sort of organized plant conspiracy?” She rolled onto her side to look at the weeds once more.  

“Tell me,” she said to the small greens that were barely protruding from the ground, “Would you like the house too? Maybe you can just move into the house. I’ll leave, you can just have everything. WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO GO AWAY!?” She laid back down and exhaled sharply, remaining on the ground. In a huff, she picked up her gardening tools to continue her task only to throw them back onto the ground. Tired and spent, she gave up and stomped back to the house where she retreated to her bed. For the next few days, she watched from her bed as the garden was drenched by rain. When the rain finally subsided, she went outside to examine the growth of the weeds in the damp summer air. At the garden, she looked at the small patch of greens she thought was weeds, but much to her surprise, found a small, white petunia protruding from the top of the greenery. She bent down to examine it closer, its pure, untouched form. The cool breeze kissed its petals and the flower danced and swayed lightly. She sat beside it, admiring its quiet beauty, realizing her work would be worth it.