Charlie had spent the better part of yesterday researching the various plants in her front yard that were dying, but nothing seemed to make sense. When she woke up this morning the yellowing grass had spread to cover half her lawn and the flowers lining her driveway had all completely wilted. To make matters worse, the flowers around her tree as well as the ones lining the front of her house were starting to show signs of death.
“I just don’t understand,” Gladys said, sipping from her cup of tea. Slurrrp. She held it in one hand and the saucer in the other. She was dressed in her ratty pink bathrobe and was standing on the sidewalk in her fuzzy pink slipper.
They stood on the sidewalk staring at her yard. In desperation Charlie had walked over shortly after she woke up to see if Gladys might have some bright ideas, but she seemed as stumped as Charlie. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Slurrrrp.
They wandered through the yard examining the plants and the soil. Once they’d look at everything, Gladys looked at Charlie, holding her now empty tea cup and said, “If I didn’t know any better, I say that someone is poisoning your yard. But who would do such a thing?”
Charlie shrugged her shoulders. She was kneeling beside her row of petunias. Their drooping corpses lay strew along the flower beds in yellowed, blackening heaps. She was angry. She’d worked so hard and lovingly on her yard, and now someone had stolen it from her.
“Thanks for your help.” Charlie stood back up. “Oh, before I forget.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out the spare key and held it out to Gladys.
“You found it!” Gladys’ face lit up. She held her cup and saucer in one hand and reached for the key with the other. “Hopefully, you won’t lock yourself out of the house again, but if you do I’ve got you covered.”
Charlie smiled. She could tell Gladys enjoyed feeling needed. She patted Gladys’ arm. “Thank you. I should go. I need to call my brother.”
Inside, Charlie pulled her phone out and called her brother Ethan.
“Hey, can I come over for dinner tonight.”
“Sure. Everything okay?”
She told him about her dying garden.
“I pity your poisoner,” he said, when she finished telling her story.
“What? What about me?” she asked.
“It is about you. You can be scary when you’re angry.”
She laughed. “I’m not that bad.”
“Au contraire,” he said, his voice no longer joking.