Flash Fiction 5

PROMPT: You’re digging in your garden and find a fist-sized nugget of gold.

The roses were just so beautiful in the store, resting atop the display like princesses lounging in wait, petals soft and pliant, stems arching as if begging for touch, that Harriet had to buy them, no matter that the yard was so overweeded there was no place for them. She carried the pot to her car as if cradling a baby; made a blanket for it in her trunk out of her assorted winter scarves so that if it did fall over, everything would be cushioned; and sped home to find the perfect spot for her roses.

She had only been in the house for a week, and most of her improvements so far had nothing to do with the garden. She had painted the rooms, put curtains in the windows, found a new lock for the front door. It was an old house as far as maintenance went: it had been one of those catalog houses installed in the neighborhood along with ten others in the fifties, and its three subsequent owners seemed to have done the bare minimum in terms of renovation. The last one hadn’t even touched the yard, which meant Harriet and the roses faced a wild jungle of overgrown grass, weedy flower beds, and sprouting, bushy side plants. And all Harriet had for weaponry was a spade.

She placed the roses on the broken brick patio, making sure the pot was level so that the flowers wouldn’t tip over, then marched to the bed at the back. From there, she’d be able to see the roses in her bedroom as well as the kitchen. She started by yanking at the plants, but that only broke them. Then she knelt and attacked the ground with the spade. She expected it would be an easy shove-lift to get the roots out. But instead, the roots halted the spade, and Harriet had to lean her entire weight into the tiny handle in order to push it down below them. Then she wedged it beneath and started pulling up, up, spewing dirt around her tool like lava from a volcano, and the effort started spiking her arm with pain, and then finally, the spade was up.

But its treasure wasn’t de-planted roots. No, the weeds still stood strong–though a little tilted–in the ground. On the spade was something else. Harriet brushed away the clumps of dirt with her fingertips and brought whatever it was closer. She transferred it to her hand and felt her arm sink from the weight. She sniffed it, and got a whiff of soil, of insect, and of metal. She put it between her teeth and bit down, and that told her it was real.

It was gold.

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