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This is a story I’ve never told anyone.
I grew up in a very nice neighborhood, a neighborhood exploding with good old fashioned American values, and a neighborhood that valued its neighborhood watch program. My neighborhood was filled with children, and married couples, and pregnancies, and baked goods, and a general forced affection for one another. Because we all lived in the same neighborhood and that was the way the neighborhood was.
Each of the houses on my street was the picture of perfection, with neat shutters and brass knockers on big beautiful front doors, clean driveways, and manicured lawns. The garden was the pride and joy of each home, and one of the biggest sources of competition amongst the husband and wife tag teams. You could tell when a new issue of Better Homes and Gardens had arrived in the mail, because each wife would be out tending to her precious begonias, experimenting with new flowers and herbs and pesticides, adjusting the ratio of full-light perennials with the mid-light biennials, searching for the way to create an Eden in her own front yard.
No neighborhood wife showered her garden with more meticulous attention and care than Mrs. Benjamin Frost did. The Frosts lived adjacent from my house in the cul-de-sac, and were a very wealthy couple, and the epitome of taste and grace in the subdivision. Mr. Frost drove a very fancy car to his very fancy job everyday in his very fancy suits, and Mrs. Frost attended all of the book club meetings and bake sales in the most stylish of outfits. They were the power couple of the neighborhood, and the only thing that seemed to be missing was children. For whatever reason, the mid-thirties Frosts did not have any children. The other wives all asked Mrs. Frost to hold their babies at the garden parties while they refilled the punch bowl, secretly whispering to each other in the shade of the patio that there was still plenty of time for children. Mrs. Frost was indifferent to their baby shenanigans, however; she had her garden.
Mrs. Frost cared lovingly for her garden, and treated her garden better than most mothers treated their children. Everyday, from spring until fall, she was out with her garden, tending for her beloved flora. She watered her plants meticulously, gently showering them in what I am sure was only the purest of spring waters. Everyday, I would see her outside, in her pink gardening apron and wide-brimmed hat, posed stylishly with her grass green plastic watering can, murmuring gentle words of encouragement to her zinnias, and singly softly to her lilies.
Weekends were reserved for the weeding. Mrs. Frost was always visible on Saturday mornings, hunched over her flowers, removing any weeds with her industrial strength weeding devices. She was militaristic in that garden, soldiering amongst her sunflowers and dahlias, demanding only the best from her dicotyledonous offspring. She was a vigilante in her garden, keeping order, and performing citizen’s arrest on any offending weeds before a widespread coup could be launched.
Mrs. Frost was a fearsome being to be reckoned with, and not one child in the neighborhood dared step foot on her lawn, let alone go anywhere near her flowers and bushes.
Until one sweltering July morning, someone did.
The neighborhood watch was gathered on the Frosts driveway on that stifling July morning, squinting in the unrelenting sun at the Mrs. Benjamin Frost’s garden, or what remained of the former paradise.
Some garden-hating neighborhood rogue had attacked Mrs. Frost’s beautiful Eden, destroying every cellulosic being within an inch of its life. The begonias had been beheaded, the tulips had been trampled, and the dahlias had been decimated. Nothing remained of the garden Mrs. Frost had so carefully cultivated. The neighborhood watch stood around on her lawn, examining the damage and scratching their heads. Who could have destroyed such a beautiful garden?
This is the part of the story I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes. Mrs. Frost was the garden-hating neighborhood rogue that had the neighborhood watch squadron perplexed and dismayed. Mrs. Frost had destroyed her own garden. I witnessed her breakdown, on the night before that sweltering July morning, a night that was just as hot. From the safety of my air-conditioned bedroom, I saw everything. I saw Mrs. Frost, poised over her beloved plants, wielding her hedge shears over the delicate necks of her perennials, trampling her fragile biennials, destroying every last stalk of plant life.
It was an odd pantomime, and the deaths I witnessed that night were part of a silent massacre. Mrs. Frost did not reappear after the annihilation of her precious garden, and the Frost house was soon on the market, followed by a complete disappearance of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Frost altogether, leaving behind only empty flower beds and the memory of the strangest incident to ever occur in our subdivision.
I guess it’s a good thing Mrs. Frost had flowers instead of babies.