Taming The Jungle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story inspired by an Imaginarium House One Word Prompt.

Submitted: July 13, 2017

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Submitted: July 13, 2017



Taming The Jungle.

When the Delaney’s moved, Dad bought a bit of land off them. Not much, just a small patch that bordered onto our garden. I couldn’t work out what the point was though, he didn’t even bother clearing it but just left it overgrown.

Then the house was sold. I don’t know the name of the people but I do know they’ve got a couple of daughters. I bet they’ll be in our college, if not our classes, next month. They are both kind of pretty, and Fergus and I, we reckon there’d be no harm in getting to know them a bit before term starts and there’ll be so many others competing for their attention.

But how? It’s not like either of us are the type to go knocking on their door just to introduce ourselves.

It was on one of Fergus’s visits that we came up with an idea. And if it worked we might get the money to take them for a snack, to see a film or something, at my Dad’s expense. It was worth a try so I decided to approach him that very night.

"That piece of ground looks really tatty, Dad. Why don’t you tidy it up a bit?” A bit of a gamble here because he just might not think the way I’m thinking.

"Time, Aiden. I’ll see to it eventually but you know how it is. When the work’s there I can’t afford to turn it down.”

"Well, see, Fergus and me, we’re at a bit of a loose end. Not much to do right now so we thought that maybe we’d do it for you.” Don’t appear to eager, I warned myself so added, “For a price, that is!”

He’s giving me a look. Does he suspect we’re only offering to try to get a glimpse of the new neighbour girls? “How much? No, I’ll tell you. I’ll pay your $100 between you if you get it looking decent.”

I should check with Fergus before agreeing, I know, but $100 would pay for a double-date.

"Okay, that’s a deal, Dad. We’ll get started tomorrow.”

"$100! Is that all?” Fergus wasn’t too happy so I gave him the choice – accept it or I’d do the lot myself. He accepted, but then I’d never doubted that he would.

The following morning we pushed the wheelbarrow, loaded up with tools over to the plot of overgrown land. It looked more like a jungle, or forest, than a garden; a lot worse than it had looked from a distance. This was going to take some work.

Now anyone used to gardening knows that it’s best not to turn up in your best clothes, and we hadn’t. Old sweatpants, washed-out hoodies and wellies; that’s what we were wearing. Not an appealing look but then we weren’t expecting spectators.

Shears snipped away, shovels dug, clippers clipped and we even got a bit of strimming done. Not bad for a day! We’d decided to start from the center; logically that must have been the last part to become overgrown so it should have been the easiest to work through. And it was. In one day we managed to clear about half of that plot, finishing with a tidy circle, ringed by hedges, weeds and thorns.

Those girls had been watching us though. We’d not actually seen them but had heard them talking. The following day we’d be that much nearer. Without actually putting it into words, Fergus and I dressed differently. Short-sleeved t-shirts to show off the muscles, tightish jeans, and runners. There was not a wellie in sight.

It didn’t take long for me to wish for that hoodie. The nettles looked like they’d been cultivated. There were thousands of the things and they all needed to be pulled up. Gloves protected our hands but did nothing for our arms when the nettles bent forward and made contact with our skin. I gritted my teeth, tried to ignore that burning sensation time and time again. It was all for a good cause, after all. And then we made it through to the edge.

What can I say? It was like being confronted by a wall of thorns. Each stem had to be cut back, then again, as more of it became exposed. But at least we were rewarded by glimpses of stone now. We really were getting somewhere.

And then I heard it; that ‘Hello’ in a feminine voice. Was it Fergus having a game? I turned, twisted and....tripped, landing straight into a tangle of brambles and thorns. And boy, were those thorns sharp. I yelped, hopefully silently, as they dug their way into my skin and tore, making big scratches all over my arms, my neck, my face.

Oh, god, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you jump. You’re bleeding! Come round and I’ll clean you up.”

Embarrassed, I found myself looking into a pair of deep brown eyes. I wasn’t going to turn down that invitation.

So Fergus and I did meet Sophie and Kate, just not quite in the way I’d envisaged. We did not get our work finished that second day, but on the third, the girls brought us out coffee, and were as surprised as us when we uncovered a gate between our new plot and their garden. Something made me think that was going to come in handy.

Dad was pretty shocked at the extent of my scratches, but was also pretty impressed with our work. So impressed that he gave us an extra $50. We’re glad of that because tonight the four of us are heading off out for a night on the town. And who knows quite where that will lead to!



Inspired by the Imaginarium House One Word Prompt -- Thorns.

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