The beautiful song of the morning birds was brutally and dispassionately drowned out by the sound of lawn mowers. Margaret was halfway through picking the infestation of aphids off her roses, when her neighbour, Mr Carter, wheeled out his lawnmower and joined in the artificial racket.
Margaret sighed and continued with the roses. When she got to the end of the row, she looked up and saw Mr Carter huffing and puffing as he pushed the lawnmower over his front lawn. He stopped briefly and wiped the sweat off his brow, his stomach jiggled as the lawnmower continued to spin.
When he finished, he turned off the lawn mower and appeared to notice her for the first time, ‘Good morning, Margaret’, he said in a jovial manner.
He waddled over to the fence and began casually admiring his perfect roses and tutting. ‘Good morning, Norman’ Margaret replied, ‘what’s the matter?’ she asked.
Mr Carter was cupping a leaf ‘look, a disaster. They’re completely infested’ he nodded down to the leaf and Margaret saw what he was complaining about. Two tiny aphids, the sole threat to his roses.
Margaret looked back at hers and only now, from a far, did she notice how much the aphids had decimated them. She hung her head as she realised that no matter how hard she tried; Mr Carters artificially created hybrids would always put hers to shame.
Mr Carter looked over the fence at her flowers, ‘Never mind’ he said, ‘you’ve tried your best’. He turned and walked back to his front door. As he closed the door, she picked up her pruning shears, leaned over the fence and decapitated a rose.
She quickly deposited the rose head in her gardening apron and briskly walked back into the house.
Margaret made a bee line toher back garden to where the brown garden waste bin was waiting. She opened the bin and threw in the rose, it was in good company she thought, as it landed on top of the mound of aphid eaten flowers.
She made herself a cup of tea and sat down at the kitchen table. Gardening books were stacked all over the table as a testament to her efforts, each book now lay closed in defeat. Halfway through the cup of tea, the doorbell rang, and she nervously went to answer it. She opened the door to find the postman waiting, parcel in hand and she smiled.
Back at the kitchen table she tore open the parcel, ripped open the packaging and unleashed a swarm of bees that hovered patiently above her head waiting for a command.
As the summer wore on she slowly replaced her roses, she often saw Mr Carter leaning over the fence, his eyes darting between his flowers and hers, she smiled at the thought of him tutting.
‘My, what beautiful flowers’ he’d comment, trying to eek out information, but she just nodded in reply. ‘What was the trick, what did you do?’ he urged, she’d just shrug and smile.
But one by one, the bees began to vanish. Margaret looked everywhere she could think of, hoping that they’d just gotten lost. Then one night out on the front lawn, when she was admiring her perfect roses, she spotted it; a spider had one of her bees and was dragging it along behind it.
Outraged she bent down to detangle her bee when she paused, its legs were tiny wires, it’s body a circuit. Over the grass, through her roses and then up and over the fence, across Mr Carter’s lawn, and under his front door.
A few days later, there was a knock at the door, she tore open the parcel, ripped open the packaging, and a swarm of centipedes emerged on her kitchen table.