Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Write a story where flowers play a central role.... view prompt


Fiction Fantasy Christmas

Jenny sat at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper, for a change. She was always too busy to take the time to read, choosing instead to listen to the radio while she drove, or watch a news broadcast on television in the evening. Her irritation was more evident these days where media speculation took over from reporting the facts. Perhaps it was the school teacher in her, she thought impishly. She glanced up from the newspaper and looked out at the pocket handkerchief sized garden of the home she shared with Hank; the love of her life, her gentle giant husband of ten years.

She sniffed the air “What on earth…?” She stopped herself at that point realising that the acrid aroma near her emanated from a nutrition supplement for the garden beds. It was ably spread like icing sugar on a fresh sponge, by Hank. It may be beneficial to the plants but pleasant it was not, and that was a fact. More to the point it was vile, but from previous experience, Jenny knew there was no point in moving away from her post as the smell wafted through the entire house.

She glanced down at the property page of the newspaper; the house advertised caught her eye as it was familiar to her. In fact, it was the house next to where Jenny and her parents lived for over twenty years, now a deceased estate. Hank came inside.

“Hi Jenn. Have you seen the ad about number 45?”

“Yes, I have just seen it! Was it Mrs Baxter who died or a less ancient specimen; I noticed it is termed a deceased estate?”

Hank laughed

“Yes, Mrs Baxter died about three months ago. The house is open today at 2.00pm.  I have seen it but thought you might like a look. Of course, I will come with you”

“Oh, okay,” said Jenny “that would be good,”

While travelling, Jenny was remembering how it was in days gone by when her parents toiled to pay the mortgage, and the garden was not something they had time for. By comparison, the property next door was a thing of beauty, but the couple were older and their home was established.

The front garden had two standard rose bushes on either side of the porch. In those days roses had an aroma that calmed your fears and Jenny adored them. Cherry blossoms in their season took the Baxter’s back to the time when they lived in Japan, where Mr Baxter taught English; but the old gum tree stood beside them thus representing the two countries most loved. The front beds had camellias, geraniums and Mrs Baxter’s favourite pansies and petunias. There was never a weed in sight yet Jenny’s house was festooned with weeds because her parents had so little time to devote to the garden.

The Baxter’s home was a weatherboard house which they shared with their son. After a while there was a small dog called Bud; he was one of the Heinz 57 variety breeds, in the days where that expression was acceptable.  His yap was annoying, his tail wagged constantly and he knew when you needed a nurse with four paws. His big brown eyes looked up in sympathy as he sat beside you or on your knee, should he sense that you were ill or unhappy. The warmth of his little body brought comfort in those times. Both the families benefitted from this, for he was a constant visitor at Jenny’s, taking it as his job to protect the two houses. Jenny fondly remembered the time when she was old enough to take him for a walk at weekends and holidays, for that meant she could see the garden, a delight to children and adults alike.

The back garden was huge with paths leading to different areas. First and foremost, another gum that had two tyre swings attached, then a trampoline shaded in part by a Norfolk pine. An enormous weeping willow took centre stage and alongside it were the apple and fig trees. Over the years the fruit trees that were not producing anything were replaced by Hydrangeas, Agapanthus, more camellias and in the corner an enormous daphne; Mrs Baxter liked purple. 

There has once been an old chook house, but unlike the previous owners, the Baxter family were not country folk and did not fancy the torment of collecting eggs daily. The chook house was replaced by a well-shaded barbeque area beside that was the rose garden some standards but more little bushes, and in spring and summer, the area was a riot of colour.

The archway entrance to the rose garden had a climbing white version it had a special name that Jenny could not remember. Eventually, Mrs Baxter added orchids towards the rose garden’s edge. The utility area; shed, laundry, and washing line was in a sunny spot but camouflaged by the fernery. Mrs Baxter loved her fernery and served coffee and cake to her visitors in that spot. The garden also had a centre bed where daffodils and tulips danced merrily in their season, and a small fish pond with four goldfish aptly named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John lazed in the sun. Beyond that was what Mrs Baxter called the secret section; a place of solitude when troubles came and you needed rest.  Jenny wondered whether the garden would have been retained; somehow, she doubted it and her memory may have erred into fantasy land. All would be revealed.

At the appointed time Jenny and Hank stood waiting for the doors to open. As they waited, they noticed with sadness that the front garden was weed-ridden; there was none of the tidy, much-loved entrance of the Baxter’s home. It looked tired and in need of love. Inside, the house was much as you would expect; though a beautiful combination of old and new. Two bathrooms, three bedrooms and a kitchen with every appliance under the sun. What a difference the extension made, allowing the traditional living room and a modern family room a place, as it were.  Surprisingly the back garden though it needed attention still resembled the one Mrs Baxter had loved. Hank looked at his wife and was not surprised to see that Jenny was weeping.

“I love it Hank; I love every square inch of it.” said Jenny “even the mess”

Hank laughed and kissed her cheek

“That is good to hear darling”


“I love it too. What say we make an offer?“

Mrs Baxter would have been delighted. 

March 26, 2021 05:50

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