a flash fiction piece for the Fall Prose Challenge, 2011
It was a windy day in autumn, when I made a vain attempt to clear the leaves off our lawn. They weren't even ours. Our three spruces, one pine, and cedar hedge liked to stay clothed all winter. The maple trees across the street however, were in cahoots with the prevailing winds to send all their dead leaves over to our front lawn.
The wind made a good effort of becoming a tiny tornado, as it tore through my pile of leaves, swirled them around me, then dropped them all over the place. I was so discouraged, I sat on the lawn staring at the back yard, which had hardly any leaves at all. Our evergreens in the front provided a wind break that kept most of the leaves from the back.
A brilliant idea hit me. I decided to rake all the leaves to the back, where I was protected from the wind as I scooped them into big orange plastic bags. Our local recycling place picked up the bags of leaves for their massive composting heap. They used the fertile soil from the compost to put in the flower gardens around town in the spring.
My plan worked well, at first. I raked two large piles of leaves on the back lawn near the deck, before I needed the leaf bags. I went to get them out of the back shed, which was attached to the house. We had to go through it from the kitchen to go outside on the deck. When I opened the shed door, our two pets made a beeline for it. They've been trained to go out on a harness and rope, but they'll escape unfettered as often as they can.
Trish is our three year old purebred Pekingese - a little black walking mop with Pekingese Superiority Syndrome – she thinks she's better than all cats, humans, and any other breed of dog. Rufus is our five year old predominantly Siberian cat. He's a loveable, huggable, climbing hairball with teeth. They have a rather strange relationship. They can be the best of friends and snuggle up on the couch, or they can become sudden adversaries for no apparent reason.
I hooked them both up to their ropes, then opened the door. Rufus ran, Trish chased him – right through both piles of leaves. The air was so full of leaves, that I could only track them by Rufus' yellow braided rope and Trish's pink rope trailing through the decimated piles. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. When I caught up to them, Rufus was up the pine tree on a branch, hanging on for dear life. Trish was at the bottom with her little jaws clinched tightly on his rope, as she tried to pull him down.
“Trishaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Let go!” I yelled at her, my face red with exasperation.
I tried to take Rufus' rope out of her mouth.
“Rawwwwwwwrrrrr Rawwwrrrr Rawwwrrr!” she snapped, but still gripped the rope.
“Mweooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww,” Rufus encouraged me from the limb.
It was pandemonium – well, petdemonium in this case.
I ran into the house and returned with a marrow bone snack. I held it out to her.
“Come and get your snarffle, Trish. You like snarffles,” I said, enticing her away from the rope.
She dropped the rope and ran to me. I gave her the treat, picked her up and put her in the house. Rufus climbed down the tree and ran under the deck. The next day, I mowed all the leaves under for mulch. No more raking for me.