Deer! Oh Dear!
Short story by Iris Carden
“So roses and lavender?” Howard asked, looking out the window over the rows she’d already planted.
“I decided to take what I loved and turn it into a business,” Kirsty said, as she poured them each coffee from the pot. “I’ve already got a couple of local florists lined up who would rather buy from a small local producer than from the markets, and I’ve ordered drying equipment, so I can do online sales of dried flowers.”
“Not bad. Not bad at all.” Howard nodded approval as he spoke. “It’s not too big an operation for you?”
“I’m not going to push myself too far again. I’m keeping it small. If I can handle this without getting sick, I might grow some other flowers as well, down the track. But I’m not going to let this get out of hand.”
“Let’s not have a repeat of last year. You know you had Mum worried sick.”
“Mum was worried! I’m the one who lost an organ.”
“She’s old. You can’t worry her like that. I don’t know what she’s going to say when she hears about this.”
“Then don’t tell her. Simple. Problem solved. I have to live my life. Sure I will get sick from time to time. Chronic illnesses flare up. But I’ve got to find something to do with my life, and a way to pay my way. But this works. Everything’s watered automatically from the rainwater tank, there’s bore water for back up if that runs out. I’m keeping it all really well mulched, so the weeds are kept in control. I just have to prune and pick. If I’m having a bad day, I can do that from the mobility scooter, or even the ride-on mower.. Then on good days, I can manage the mulch and fertiliser. I’ve been upfront with the florists, and they’re even willing to pick their own on days I can’t manage. And the previous owner put in fruit trees and a vege garden, so I’ve got fresh healthy food at my doorstep. It’s going to work.”
“Oh, I’m sure it will work. Just like the bookshop worked. Just like… there’s a deer out there eating your flowers.”
“Not again!” Kirsty yelled. “Don’t just sit there. Come and help me.”
She ran out to her roses. Her brother strolled slowly behind.
“What the hell is a deer doing here anyway?” Howard asked, as Kirsty started pushing the animal away from her precious roses.
“Next door. They’ve decided they’re raising deer to sell for venison. They’ve only got two so far. This one and another. They’re still trying to work out how many they can keep in the space they have. But they are having some serious problems keeping them contained.”
Kirsty finally pushed the deer through the gap in the fence. “Hold this closed a moment, would you?” she said.
Howard looked disdainfully at the broken fence she wanted held closed. “This is a thousand dollar suit,” he said.
“Just do it,” Kirsty said. She ran to the shed for wire and tools, came back and fixed the gap.
“I really don’t think any of this is a good idea,” Howard said. “I really wish you’d take my advice on how to manage your money and not just buy into these harebrained schemes.”
“Look,” Kirsty said. “Dad left me more money than he left you because you got your degree and got a great job. I couldn’t finish college and can’t keep a regular job because of my health. He took all that into account. He told me before he died to find something I could do that I could manage, which would let me feel I was achieving something. I’m doing what he told me to do with his money, which is my money now. It’s not like he didn’t leave you anything. You started your own practice with what he left you. So no. I’m not just going to hoard the money away so you can grab it when I die from this stupid disease. I’m going to use the money and I’m going to have the best life I can, and if you’re lucky you’ll still get plenty when I die!”
“I’m not after your money, and I’m not waiting for you to die! I just don’t want you getting so overworked or stressed that you get seriously ill again! But since you believe that about me, I’m going.”
Howard stormed to his Lexus and drove quickly out of the driveway, his tyres kicking up stones as he went.
Kirsty watched him go, then went inside to rest up from the fatigue the whole encounter had caused.
Had she stayed outside, she might have seen Howard turn in to the next driveway, and a significant amount of money to her neighbour.