I stayed home sick from work today. Which is why I saw one of the kids from a unit on the other end of the complex pick three hyacinths out of my flower bed: the best purple one, the best pink one, and the only white one. Well, I saw her walk away with them in her hand, while her friend pedaled a bike alongside her. Oh, I was furious.
"Hey!" I shrieked out the window. They turned around, but probably didn't see me. "Pick your own flowers! Leave mine alone!" They sped off.
Well, of course they did. Crazy disembodied voice screaming about flowers? I'd get the heck outta there too.
Muttering, I changed out of pajamas. I was going to give those little brats a piece of my mind. I caught a look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Yeah. No. Not looking like this. I stopped and brushed my hair, still angry, taking it out on the tangles.
The rational voice in the back of my head was trying to get my attention. Don't go off half-cocked. Think about this. Do you want to alienate your neighbors by reading their kid the Riot Act over three flowers?
Now just wait a minute, the angry part of my brain said. I've been waiting for those things to bloom all month. They're out two days and someone walks away with them? Aw, hell-to-the-no.
When did I realize that flowers weren't public property? My rational mind asked. I
don't know. I remember friends in college getting what-for from the
gardening staff if they got caught snapping off flowering branches or
picking daffodils, and we were in our late teens or twenties then. And how old is this girl? Eight? Ten? She probably thought it was communal
property, if she thought anything at all besides, "Ooooh,
pretty," as she bent to take it.
I was calmer by the time I was presentable, but decided I still needed to talk to her. I put my shoes on and went for a saunter outside. She was skipping around down by the other units, holding my beautiful purple hyacinth in her hand. Well, good, a little part of me said. At least she hadn't torn it apart. I wonder where the other two went.
"Hi," I said. "May I speak to you for a moment?"
She stopped skipping and came to meet me.
"I'm pretty sure you just took that flower from my garden." She looked down at her hand, then back up to me. Her face had no trace of guilt, or of defensiveness. If anything, there was surprise. I felt my anger dissipate.
"Just so you know, any flowers you see in the grass?" I spread my arms wide, indicating the lawn. "Those grow wild. But the ones near the houses? Those are usually put there on purpose by someone."
"Oh," she said."I'm sorry. I didn't know you planted this."
"I did. Could you please not pick any more?"
"Thank you," I said.
"You're welcome." I think she was relieved I wasn't going to demand she returned what she took.
"And I'm sorry I shouted before," I added, walking away. "It just really hurt my feelings that they were gone."
Then I went back to my house, hoping I wasn't about to get the reputation of being the mean lady on the end. You know what, though? If it keeps them from picking my flowers? Go ahead and think of me like that. Just stay away from my flowerbed, dammit.