“Those roses are beautiful!”
Nancy turned and saw a woman standing at her fence.
She smiled, took one of her gardening gloves off to greet the stranger.
“Thank you so much,” Nancy said.
“I’m Janet, I just moved in down the street.”
“I’m Nancy, I just moved in twenty years ago.”
Both women laughed.
“I heard there is a gardening contest going on next month, is that right?”
“Yes,” Nancy said. She stuck her hand back into the gardening glove. “Every year we do it. I’ve won the past five years, ever since my husband passed away.”
“Congratulations on winning,” Janet said. “Sorry about your husband. I just got divorced.”
Nancy looked down. She hated these kinds of conversations. She wanted this strange woman and her strange thoughts to disappear. Then she noticed a chunk of bone on the ground, in plain view. It was an off white piece of a leg bone.
Janet looked down and saw it too. Nancy quickly moved her foot to cover it.
“What was – ”
“You know, it’s all about the ground. The dirt. The Earth. It’s not as complicated as people make it to be. You just have to respect the Earth, that’s all.”
“I’m sorry?” Janet asked.
“For gardening. It’s about the Earth.”"Oh, I agree. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning. By then everything will be moved in and unpacked and I can start gardening.”
Janet stepped. She thought it was weird because she didn’t see any cat toys, smell cats, or see a litter box when she walked through the main part of the house to get to the basement door.
A sharp odor penetrated her nose as she made her way down the steps.
At the bottom of the steps, she turned and gasped in horror. There were piles of bones, and what looked like ground up flesh on the floor of the basement. Next to that was a pile of heads, some with skin on them, others half rotted with maggots crawling around.
Before Janet could turn and scream or fight her way up the steps, Nancy had a pitch fork through the side of her face.
“It’s my competition,” Nancy said as she began to cut and mulch up her new neighbor. “It’s all about the Earth. Give the Earth what it wants and it will repay you.”
Nancy remembered killing her husband, he was the first. He hated the roses. When Nancy used him as mulch and fertilizer, the roses grew stronger, taller, and darker in color. Then it became easy to win the annual gardening competition: just give the Earth what it wants.
Jim Wisneski writes flash stories, short stories, novellas, and novels. Many of his short stories have been published. He is currently working on his second and third novels.
Visit his writing blog at www.writersnwriters.blogspot.com.