Paul walked out his back door and sighed with a groan. “Not again.”
The mist of the morning fog was thin enough to hint at the carnage around him. The fence, a twisted ribbon mix of chain-link and poles. Barbed wire split like torn dental floss. Landscape timbers broke and tossed like discarded toothpicks. Rich, textured mulch scattered like confetti. And his prize roses, gone. Chewed down to the roots, if not pulled from the earth entirely.
“Damn you, Conrad!” He yelled into the still morning air.
The screen door opened with a squeak behind him.
“What’s a matter, dear?” The question came from a soft, gentle voice.
“Look Sara.” Paul replied in dismay while gesturing to the carnage before them. “Look what Conrad did again. I swear they should’ve named him lot and me Jobe!”
Sara put her hand on her husband’s shoulder. “Now Paul. You know Conrad doesn’t mean you any harm. He just doesn’t understand.”
“Sure he doesn’t.” Paul cajoled tensing in silent rebellion.
“Here. Drink this.” Sara said, holding out a cup full of steaming, warm liquid.
Paul sniffed at the contents. “That’s not coffee.”
“I thought you didn’t need the caffeine. It’s tea.”
Paul grimaced and lowered the cup.
Sara spoke softly, trying to comfort Paul. “You don’t have to do this. You can give up you know.”
“Give up?!” Paul recoiled. “I can’t give up! What sort of man would I be if I couldn’t deliver on my promises. I promised you a rose garden and you shall have it!”
“But I didn’t ask for one.” She replied.
Paul rebutted. “A promise is a promise. Besides, it’s more than that. It’s a matter of pride.”
“And you gave me one.” Sara said, trying to get Paul to let go the useless crusade. “You gave me three! It’s hard enough building and raising a rose garden at the edge of the Florida everglades. It’s impossible to do when a wildlife sanctuary moves in next door and brings a baby hippopotamus with it.”
Paul shrugged his shoulders.
“Besides,” Sara cooed while rubbing her husband’s back gently. “There are other ways of showing that you love me.”
“Ok.” Paul relented. “We’ll try something else.”
“Good.” Sara said as Paul drank his cooling tea.
“Mmm! This is good.” Paul said in surprise. “What sort of tea is this?”
Sara gave an innocent smile and batted her eyes. “Rose hip.”