1. This time she had gone too far

2. The garden was overgrown now

3. It’s my favorite place to be


The compost pile was still there, barely, almost invisible now that the microbes had done their work and the garbage and leaves had long ago turned into dark, rich earth. There would be shovels and wheelbarrows full of the wondrous stuff to add to the planter boxes early in the spring.

But now, in October, the garden was overgrown with vines and the weedy, drying stalks of late summer grasses. It should have been pulled up by now, chopped fine and added to the compost, but she wasn’t around to take care of it anymore.

Her rose bushes still held scraggly, limp, almost colorless late blossoms, going back to wild and not enough of them to hide the ugly orange hips that had, in their time, been the riotous red and orange blooms of spring. It had always been her favorite place to be, this triangle of earth with dozens of bushes carrying names like Peace and Mr. Lincoln and Ana Pavlova. She used to sit with her tea beneath the tree at the north end of the plot, which she’d carefully planted years ago to provide a peaceful canopy without shading the sun-hungry bushes. It was perfect—just perfect—but she wasn’t around to take care of it anymore.

He could have hired a gardener to come in and tear everything out. Heaven knows they came around almost every day leaving their business cards to decorate his front porch. LOW PRICES! they said. SENIOR DISCOUNTS! TOTAL YARD CARE! One of these days, he supposed. But he wasn’t ready to call Juan or Heriberto or even Quality Landscaping just yet. It was still her garden. Maybe it would always be her garden.

The compost decayed a little more, the weeds grew with the encouragement of an unexpected late summer shower and then died and dried and yellowed in place. Halloween came and went and still the garden lay seemingly idle.

By the middle of November, he’d almost stopped thinking of the garden. Invisible people came by once a month to mow the lawns and leave a bill tucked in the front door handle. He sent the check promptly every time but never considered asking them to do more than the basics. It didn’t matter, anyway.