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Delia in the Garden: Delia is in the garden, weeding the rows of vegetables, when mother calls her for supper
Posted by Douglas, Feb 14, 2008. 2249 views. ID = 594

Delia in the Garden

Posted by Douglas, Feb 14, 2008. 2249 views. ID = 594
This post was written in 24 minutes.
I had an idea for the Valentine's Day writing prompt, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought: I really can't do this as a single writing piece.

So this first one really has NOTHING to do with Valentine's Day. But it's setting the scene for what will come later
This post has been awarded 16 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 1 of a writing series titled Delia's Valentine.

Delia was on her knees in the dry, hard dirt next to the house. She hated the dirt; it stained her face and hands a dusty gray brown, and it clung to the undersides of her fingernails, making the ends of her fingers look like they all had been bruised and blackened. No matter how many times she dipped her hands in the stream behind their house, the grime would never come out. When supper time came, Grandmother Emily would grab her hands and study them front and back, and if they weren't clean enough to suit her, Gray-Em (for that's what Delia called the gray haired old woman) would dry-scrub her palms, fingers, and nails with an old hairbrush. That was never very pleasant.

But somebody had to work the garden, and somebody had to cook the supper, and someone - who couldn't do anything else useful - had to check the children for cleanliness. It was simply Delia's lot in life that she was the gardener. "Someday," Gray-Em had told her once, with a wicked cackle, "you'll be old and gray and useless like me, and then you can be the one scrub people's hands with hairbrushes."

Delia often thought about that, and wondered if having sagging skin and a sore back and weak knees would be worth not having to stay out in the hot, dirty, dry outdoors picking weeds from a garden that never produced anything. Some days she thought it would be. Other days, when she heard Gray-Em's knees cracking, and heard her moans of pain as she sat in the outjohn doing her business, she was convinced she never wanted to get old, and would rather get eaten by a bear when she was still young than to experience being broken down like old Gray-Em.

"Delia," her mother's coarse, gravelly voice called out from the house, "Pick us some beets for supper, and then wash up!"

Delia smiled, then let the smile change to a disdainful grimace. She was glad to be done gardening for the day, but she hated beets. She stomped her way over to the row of beets and pulled a handful up from their dusty home. They were small and pale, and had a bitter aftertaste that Delia couldn't stomach.

On her way to their small shack, Delia passed by the Ugly, as she always did. It was a funny looking metal thing that had rusted through from top to bottom. It had two long metal arms that reached out to the level of her head, and sat on two wheels and strange metal spindles that stuck out at peculiar angles like those paper pinwheels Gray-Em used to make before pappa told her she couldn't waste paper anymore.

Delia called it the Ugly, because it was ugly, and she usually stayed far away from it on her way from the garden to the house. Gray-Em called called it a rootoo, or something like that, and said that in the old days, before the Ravaging, it used to weed the gardens for them.

Mamma had told her never to believe the silly old stories that Gray-Em told when she got in one of her moods, but sometimes she wondered about that. Maybe people didn't have to weed gardens when Gray-Em was a little girl. Maybe, if she was nice to it, the rootoo would help her in the garden.

"I'm sorry I called you Ugly," she said. The rootoo didn't say anything. "I think you're pretty," she lied. Still there was no answer.

So she kicked the rusted piece of junk, and giggled with glee as a shard of rotten rusted metal dropped to the ground. "Ugly ugly rootoo," she called as she trudged on toward the house, beets in hand. By the time she got to the kitchen, the insult had become a sing-song chant in her mind, and she decided she would teach it to her little sister too.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 16 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 1 of a writing series titled Delia's Valentine. The next part of this series can be found here: Delia in the Kitchen.
This post is part of a writing prompt: Happy Valentines Day?
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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