The Garden Makeover Project, a Short Story
They said we’d have to dig up these stubborn weeds by the roots plus some if we really wanted to get rid of them. Repeated applications of weed killer, liberal applications of grass seed and even re-sodding this corner of the yard just hadn’t worked.
I noticed at a depth of about 18 inches that the soil was a grey, gritty mess here versus the black loam that was found throughout the rest of the yard. I told my husband we should dig all the grey stuff out. Maybe it was that material that kept killing the grass and nourishing the weeds.
Three feet down, we found the first bone. It was nothing recognizable, and it easily could have been the remains of a dead animal. As we dug a little further, we found more bones. There wasn’t an obviously human bone like a skull, but the number of bones here was concerning. It was too many to be someone’s dog buried in the back yard. I wasn’t sure if one bone in the corner was a tibia, but I didn’t want to know for sure, either.
“What do you want to do?” my husband asked.
“What happens if we report it?” I asked.
“Our home becomes a crime scene.”
“Will they restore everything afterward?” I asked.
“When they broke into the Chavez place due to an incorrect house number on the warrant, they didn’t even want to replace the broken door or pay to repair the bullet holes in the wall.”
He looked down at the bones sticking up through the mix of clay, dirt, and what might be cement dust. “Do you ever see ghosts?”
“Only at Halloween begging for candy.”
“I’ll get a tarp.”
He laid the tarp on the bones. Then he came back with the wheel barrow and started shoveling black soil on top of the tarp. “The tarp will prevent the salts and other minerals here from seeping into the good soil. Stuff should grow here, after this.” I joined him in the work so it would be completed as soon as possible.
Once the soil on the top of the hole was even with the ground, we were able to quit for the day. I started to revise my plans for the garden.
We set a bench to the side of the new flower garden and named it a prayer garden. That would keep people from walking on it. Little crosses and stones etched with prayers don’t look weird in a prayer garden.
An old neighbor came by and stared at the site for a while. I thought he was appreciating the site or would be curious about the religious nature of it. Instead, he made sure no one was in ear shot before remarking, “That’s just the size of a grave.”
“We’ve never killed anyone,” I said.
“Just noticing,” he said.
“Don’t tempt me,” I replied.
He stared at me in silence for a while with a complex mix of emotions warring on his face before it fell into resignation. He then made his way out the door. He never again commented on our home renovations, and neither did we.
© 2019 Tamara Wilhite