Desi pulls the hoe slowly through the fine soil. He knows that Lena is watching. They have planted this garden many times, and Lena is a stickler for straight rows. He looks over to Lena for approval. She sits on a lawn chair. Desi smiles. He knows his wife is not well. Normally she would be dropping the seeds behind him
Lena watches her husband and remembers how straight and strong he once was. Now he is bent with arthritic hands that can barely grasp the hoe’s handle. He is an old man, and she is an old woman.
A young girl joins her husband. She begins dropping the Bush Blue Lake seeds in the furrow. Desi looks back. She smiles at him. He is confused and looks over at Lena. Lena smiles and approves this new arrangement. The young woman is her final gift to the husband she doesn’t want to leave. She has downloaded all her memories and left exact instructions on how to care for him once she is gone.
Desi returns Rita’s smile. She is a hard worker, and in no time, the row of beans is planted. She brings him a cool glass of iced tea, just the way he likes it.
“What do I call you?” he asks the drudge.
“Rita,” she replies and returns to the garden to plant the Big Boy tomato plants. Desi joins his wife, and the two watch as Rita finishes the work. Desi takes Lena’s hand. He is thankful for this great gift but knows it won’t be the same.
“She shall care for you, mi Amor,” Lena casually adds, watching Rita plant a half row of sweet corn.
“Gracias, mi Amor,” he replies and kisses the palm of her hand. He knows that Lena will be his first and only love.
Rita easily pulls the hoe making a trench to plant sugar snap peas. Desi watches her. She knows that he is not well. This is the first time she has planted the garden without his guidance. She smiles at him. He returns her smile. He thinks of Lena and how proud she would be of Rita for making such precise straight rows. It has been many years since Lena left him, but he still thinks of her. Rita has been a blessing. She takes good care of him, but she is not his Lena. He thinks of Rita as the child they never had.
A young man joins Rita and takes the hoe from her. He has a straight back and strong athletic hands. He gives her the bag of pea seeds, and the two work silently. Rita is confused. She looks at Desi. Desi smiles and gives his approval for this new arrangement. The drudge is his final gift to his companion. He has downloaded all his memories with Lena and precise instructions on how to make her happy.
When the garden is finished, Rita brings the drudge a glass of iced tea, made just the way he likes it. The way Lena made it.
“What do I call you?” Rita asks.
“My name is Juan.” He smiles back.
Rita is thankful that Desi has provided her with a new companion. She fears that he shall leave her soon. She loves him dearly but knows that she was never his first choice. Maybe it will be different with Juan.
Juan pulls the hoe slowly in the fine soil, keeping the rows straight. He knows that Rita is watching. They have planted this garden many times before, and Rita is a stickler for straight rows. When they finish their work, Rita brings Juan a glass of iced tea, just the way Desi and Lena liked it.
As they quench their thirst, they remember the times they planted this garden. They are thankful to Desi and Lena for passing on their love to them.
“I think that we have planted a fine garden, mi Amor,” Juan comments casually and kisses the palm of her hand. He is mad with love for Rita.
“Gracias, mi Amor,” Rita answers, knowing that she is Juan’s first and only love.
Ruby Zehnder is a sham. She’s the disincarnate human version of Schrödinger’s cat. Her existence depends on the actions of a reader. When her words are read — she exists. When her words are ignored — she’s disappointed. Existing in multiple states of superposition gives Ruby the freedom to choose who she is. She may be a Lemurian Starseed with a telepathic cat. Or, she may be young, stunningly beautiful, carefree, debt-free, and socially woke. While technically not alive, she’s been writing stories for most of your life. Some of them are even good.