Overwhelmed by the gruelling task ahead, Steven’s eyes moved from the printed address on the damp paper in his hand to the matching address before him.  He had been a gardener for a number of years but had never faced anything like this.  The weeds were thriving, unacknowledged for too long.  He wished he could just click his fingers and make it perfect, how it used to be.  He was not a religious man, but he dropped to his knees and prayed before he began, desperately asking for enough strength and determination to undertake the work he’d agreed to.

“The best course of action would be to use a combination of tools and chemicals,” he’d been advised by a man knowledgeable in this type of work.  The tools were familiar but the chemicals concerned him.  Still, he took the advice, unearthing and disposing of each weed in turn.  He tried to accept the occasional broken taproot, anxiously using the chemicals, hopeful they would kill what remained.

Passers by acknowledged the amazing job he was doing.  Steven was not so sure, but thanked them anyway.  He welcomed the opportunities for distraction from the repeating conversations in his mind. 

He filled numerous bags for disposal with optimism, but was realistic in the potential for weed re-growth.  At least he could make it look nice for a short time, so the flowers could be enjoyed.  He felt compassion for the next person to face the job because he would never do this again.

As he took a needed break he read a remembrance dedication to a soldier who served in World War I, a man who selflessly gave his life for others. Despite his severely aching body Steven was inspired by this man’s gallantry, to push on in his toil.

In the end he was blessed with a valuable extension so, when he finally reached the deadline, he was able to rest at peace with what he had accomplished.

As Steven rested, the cemetery looked like it was destined to and he had, himself, become an inspiration.

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
2 years ago

Paula, the last line really put the story into perspective for me. I couldn’t understand why it felt so overwhelming for the gardener until I understood the setting of the story. This was captivating right until the end! Well done.

Last edited 2 years ago by Marianna Pieterse
Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
2 years ago

Mm! I thought, why did he drop to his knees and pray? You captivated me. This is the story teller drawing you in. And then all became clear in a flash at the end. I love this story Paula, really well written.

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
2 years ago

I always find overgrown cemeteries very sad and your final revealing sentence made me feel very pleased. Well done, Paula, a beautiful story!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
2 years ago

I love that you keep the reality of this garden from us, right until the very end, just dropping the occasional hint. Nicely done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
2 years ago

Very nice, and you did it well. At first, it didn’t come to my mind that the setting was in the cemetery, I thought it was a beautiful garden in a palace, but I was wondering why did he drop to his knees and pray until I reached the ending and my question was answered.

Santina Forlenza
Santina Forlenza(@santina-forlenza)
2 years ago

Hi Paula, I find your story poetic. Cemeteries would easily inspire sadness, melancholy, old memories, and even horror in some stories. But Steven’s story shows its cemetery as an eternal garden, where plants and souls live forever.

Reply to  Santina Forlenza
2 years ago

What a beautiful comment, Santina. Your description of the eternal garden makes a lovely story even lovelier. Wonderful writing, Paula.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
2 years ago

Hello Paula, the cemetery in your story is entirely unconventional where life and death coexist. You have sounded a deep note and revealed a fuller sense of complexities.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
Reply to  Paula Lucas
2 years ago

You’re welcome.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
2 years ago

I love how you turned the cemetery, a place full of sadness, mourning and tears into a garden of life! It’s truly inspiring. Nicely done!

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
Reply to  Paula Lucas
2 years ago

You’re welcome, Paula!

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