Private Garden


My neighbor knocked on my door this morning. I couldn't read his facial expression, not only because we never actually spoke, but it was 6:30, and the sun was just spreading its light to my door and onto him. My neighbor was a man in his forties.

"I'm sorry to bother your morning, but I could really use your opinion on something," he said.

"I'm sorry?" I retorted in confusion. I was trying not to speak too close to him; I might have morning breath.

"Something happened with my garden, and this is not the first time. Can you come with me?" he said again.


"Yes, please come with me," he walked out of my patio to his garden, having the conviction that I would just follow his shoulder. Which I instinctively did.

"Come over here," he said as he squatted in one corner of the garden.

It was not actually a huge garden. Just some space in front of his house with some plants I can't recognize. Never thought this man was into gardening, but I didn't know the man that well either to give a better judgment.

"Are you not feeling cold with such short pants in the morning?" he asked, looking at my legs as I squatted next to him.

"What?" I said.

"Your pants, they're very short," he said again.

"They're normal, I guess."

"You young guys are becoming stranger and stranger," he said as he took a hand shovel and dug something in the dirt.

I watched him as he dug the dirt. The sun came at my face, so I had to squint my eyes. I could hear him breathing as he dug some more. His breath was hoarse, as if he was sick. Perhaps he had asthma or he was just old. I don’t know much about old people.

"Here, look," he said finally.

I tried to focus on his finger and where he pointed. I then looked at his face to find that he was looking at me.

"Look," he said again, repointing his finger.

I couldn't see anything. It was literally just goddamn dirt.

"I looked already, what's wrong with it?" I said.

"You didn't look hard enough," he said.

I didn't need that insult in the morning, but I was in the mood of being patient, so I looked some more. One minute passed, still, I couldn’t find anything.

He sighed.

"Someone has been planting some seeds in my garden," he said.

"Seeds?" I asked.

"Yes, some seeds. Someone has been planting some seeds in my garden."

Now I looked closer to the dirt, and only then I could see some tiny prolate spheroid things, just like that American football ball. Could this be just some worm's egg? I don't know much about eggs or seeds.

"Yeah, I could see them now," I said and nodded.

"Someone has been planting these seeds in my garden! Without my permission!" he exclaimed.

"Yeah?" I said.

"Of course! I don’t know their business or what they're trying to do with my garden. What they wanted my garden to grow, that's just very mysterious; it's bugging me so much."

"If that's the case, that's really a shitty business," I said.

"That's exactly the case, no 'ifs'!" he shouted.

"It could be just some insect eggs," I said.

"That's nonsense," he said. "You have to look again. Here, look, I dug some more for you," and he started some digging again.

And he dug and dug, and we saw some more different seeds, with different shapes, which perhaps were just eggs, or maybe really were some seeds. And we argued all morning if there was really somebody trying to grow something in his private garden or if it was just there all along and he just found out. He was anxious and excited at the same time. And I was there not understanding what I was doing.

Maybe this was normal for us. Your neighbor who hasn’t spoken to you in years suddenly comes to your door one morning, wanting to show you some seeds, and you just go with him naturally. Because it doesn't happen every day that your neighbor wants to show you something in his private garden.

Note: here is my only short story I wrote this year. I wrote atop a bunk bed in a hostel in Bangkok an hour ago.
- N