The Gardening Faerie
Ell the faerie Draik dug the last hole in the earth (for the day, anyway) with her trowel. She placed the rose plant in it and packed the dirt back in place.
There! Now her garden was finished. She looked around, smiling at the flourishing trees, with the various blossoms, and at the myriad of flowers and grasses. Her favourites were the rainbow morning flowers. She had those planted along the white fence.
She put her trowel away and hung her gardening gloves up, and went inside the house.
As she washed her hands in the kitchen sink, she looked out at her neighbor's yard through the window. It was dry, sparsely decorated, and... well, it was dead. The grass was patchy and yellow, and there was a single bush by the side door.
He must not like to be outside very much, she thought.
She sat outside the next day, in her lovely garden, sipping a Tchea tea and reading a magazine. The petpets and petpetpets that visited her garden almost daily kept her company. She reached down to pet a Noil that was napping by her chair before turning a page in her magazine.
Ell didn't know that there was also a pet watching her. Over his side of the fence, her neighbor, the scruffy red Grarrl with the patchy lawn was peering at her and the life teeming in her yard.
“How can she share that with anyone who dares wander into her yard?" he asked himself. He found the idea preposterous.
He glanced back at his own yard, the patchy grass, the unkempt bush. He had a pair of clippers to trim the bush, but he never bothered. Why trouble himself with the work when he didn't care?
Then he looked at Ell's garden again.
And he found that he did care.
Ell was watching Neovision when the door was knocked upon. She left the television turned on and answered the door.
She was greeted by a large red Grarrl holding a plate of tarts. The tarts looked very out of place, and indeed, the Grarrl himself seemed very uncomfortable.
The plate of tarts was shoved in front of her nose. She took it gingerly and stepped aside to allow the Grarrl admission.
“Come in," she said. The Grarrl shoved his hands into his pockets and shuffled into the narrow hallway.
“Let's go to the kitchen," Ell said, leading the way. She placed the tarts on the counter once there, and took a seat at the little breakfast table. The Grarrl took the other chair and again looked uncomfortable.
“How much do you charge for gardening services?" he blurted out.
Ell sat shocked. "Pardon me?"
“I want my yard fixed up and I haven't the faintest idea on how to go about doing it," he said.
“It's not that hard," Ell said. "Just pick some plants you-"
“I want you to do it," the Grarrl interrupted. "How much per hour?"
“I don't have a gardening service," Ell said quietly.
“Then start one."
She was quiet for a moment. She shifted in her seat, the uncomfortable one now.
“What do you want done?" she finally asked.
The Grarrl sighed. "Look out the window. I want that to look halfway decent."
Ell had no idea her neighbor was this red Grarrl. She had never seen him before. That house seemed deserted at times.
“I'll do it," she decided on the spot. "For free," she added.
Ell spent the following week picking out plants. Trees, flowers, shrubbery, the works. She picked up a few more shovels, a watering can, and another pair of gloves.
Then she got to work.
It was going to take some time, she said to the Grarrl, who nodded. Even he understood that his pathetic lawn was going to need a lot of work.
Ell spent the first day of official "work" mapping out where everything would go. She sat on his patio overlooking the backyard, with a pad of paper and a pencil, sketching ideas.
She picked a layout later that night over supper. She put the dishes away, watered her plants, and went to bed. Her Raindorf, Ruby, was curled up at the end of the bed, snoring lightly.
By the end of the week the lawn was no longer patchy and yellow, which was a massive improvement in itself. Ell had started some of the planting, too. So far she had a tree in the corner, with a small bed of flowers around it.
It was what most people had. A tree and a few flowers. But she wasn't going to stop there. She was going to make this yard look as good as hers even if it killed her.
...well, maybe not. But she'd sure try.
The red Grarrl watched from the sidelines. He didn't want to get in the way, and he didn't care what was put into his yard as long as it looked nice. He didn't ask questions, didn't stand right behind her, didn't protest against anything. He was a relief to Ell.
He invited her in for lunch one day, a few weeks after she started her work. It was a particularly hot day, and she looked tired.
She was heading toward her house for lunch, but he said:
“Why don't you join me today? I have cucumber sandwiches made," he said.
Ell stopped in her tracks. "If I can bring some Tchea tea over," she said. It was her favourite drink. She always drank it with her lunch.
Lunch was relatively quiet. They ate in silence, enjoying the cool air in the house. They finished quickly, a product of no talking. It was only slightly awkward.
“I need to feed Ruby," Ell realised as she took her last bite.
“Ruby?" the Grarrl asked.
“My petpet," she explained. "She expects lunch at one every day. I'm going to to feed her and take the rest of the day off. Thank you for lunch."
Seven weeks later, the Grarrl's yard was completely transformed. Flowers of every colour of the rainbow were present, a Negg tree flourished in the corner, and Ell had even tamed the unruly bush by his side door.
They had had a couple more lunches together in the red Grarrl's house. They ventured into conversation on the second one, with Ell detailing her progress so far. The Grarrl had voiced his approval with her work. Ell had been beaming for the rest of the day.
Ell was no longer afraid to be depressed when she looked out her kitchen window.
When she was finished, she put away her trowel and hung up her gloves and joined the Grarrl for another lunch.
“It looks great," he said, taking a bite of his pizza.
“Thanks," Ell said quietly, smiling a bit. "I'll show you how to take care of them later."
“That sounds fine."
The rest of the lunch was silent, but both were pleased. When Ell excused herself to feed Ruby, the Grarrl took a long, hard look at his yard. It was no longer the lawn that could have been in a desert. It was now the work of a gardening faerie.
“Water them every day, at the same time. Any time of the day would be fine, really. I water mine at night before I go to bed," Ell said later that day.
The Grarrl nodded. Water every day.
“Every few weeks you might need to pull weeds, although the rock beds around the flowers will prevent most of them from coming through."
The Grarrl nodded again. Weeds every few weeks.
“And the bush will need trimming every couple of weeks. The flowers will need pruning every once in a while, too. If anything seems dead, or otherwise off, it probably needs pruning," Ell continued. "And of course you need to water the lawn during the summer, although that's almost over so don't worry about that."
The Grarrl now looked blank. It was a bit too much to memorise.
As if she read his thoughts, Ell said, "I'll drop a little manual by in a day or two. I know it's a lot to take in at first."
“Thanks," the Grarrl said.
Ell knew it was for more than the manual. "You're welcome," she said, and headed back to her house to write out the manual.
Ell and the red Grarrl became great friends over the topic of gardening. The Grarrl watered his plants at night, too, so they chatted for a few minutes at least once a day.
The Grarrl's yard was no longer deserted. Petpets and petpetpets visited him, too, enjoying the shade of the foliage. Beekadoodles splashed around in his birdbath. The lone Noil split his time between Ell and the Grarrl.
Word got out that Ell saved her neighbor's yard. She was practically forced to start a service, but she enjoyed it.
At the Grarrl's insistence, she called her business The Gardening Faerie.