Obsession (PDF) by ert634



By Scott Niven

Spencer maintained an immaculate yard.

His fastidiousness and attention to detail waited until his retirement to fully blossom. Then, with
nothing to do but count age spots and wonder when his overeager son would sweep him into a
nursing home, Spencer’s mind turned to upkeep.

He bought a new rake. He planted exotic flowers. He purchased fertilizer, grass seed, and a
riding lawn mover, then used the last of the three to keep the first two in line. Every blade of
green measured three inches high. Every weed was plucked and burned, the ashes stuffed
inside an airtight bag and driven to the dump. Sprinklers spun from four in the morning until five.

The town cancelled its Yard of the Month campaign. They awarded Spencer the sign
permanently. He rigged wires to his house so the sign could hang above the lawn, thereby
preserving his perfect greenway from puncture.

Despite his many landscaping accomplishments, however, Spencer cultivated a hatred for one
relentless yearly foe.


From September to December, he spent his days raking leaves and cramming them into bags.
Yet always upon returning from the dump, he discovered additional leaves scattered about the
yard, mocking his impeccable fortress.

Eventually, Spencer fought back.

He bought a chain saw. One by one the great oaks fell. Pines crashed. Magnolias thudded.
Dogwoods died.

September. Spencer watched the yard from his bay window. The jutting pencil points of
truncated wood did not shed. But as the wind increased, leaves from his neighbors’ trees
stampeded onto his property, staining his pure and verdant grass. He rushed outside each time
a new wave attacked, but the wind was ceaseless, and Spencer’s body was not.
When he approached his neighbors, they declined the use of his chain saw. So he lugged the
whirling, jagged teeth into a huge forest and left a much smaller forest in its stead. Then, with
hammer, nails, and an abundance of timber, he erected a thirty-foot wall around the perimeter
of his property. He draped the Yard of the Month sign on the outside of the wall to remind
everyone what was inside.

October. Again Spencer fixated on the sparkling yard from his bay window.

November. Though his daily vigil continued, not a single, tainted leaf surmounted his spiked
shield of wood.

December. Spencer began to relax. He limited his careful scrutiny to six hours a day.

Finally, one morning in early January, Spencer strolled across his yard, inhaling the sight of his
victory. But as he gazed up at the northern wall, a furious wind billowed over its crest. A lone
leaf fluttered through the air, flung itself over the spires, then drifted, drifted, drifted, eventually
landing at Spencer’s feet. Its diameter covered a two-inch swatch of his lovely, uncorrupted

It was too much.

Spencer packed his bags and moved to Arizona.


[Source: http://www.authorama.com/short-stories-7.html]

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