prompt: "The backyard gardener stopped as his shovel hit something solid."
Thunk. The sound shocked him as much as the sudden jolt of reverberation firing up through his arms like a thrum of electricity.
Shaking out his right hand, he pulled the shovel out of the hole he had been digging and tossed it to the ground off to the side. Peering down he tried to see what might have caused the problem. Unfortunately the chestnut tree was casting rather a long shadow over it in the early morning light. Carl looked at his watch in frustration, then dropped to his knees to get a better look. The evening primrose bush he was attempting to transplant from his sister's old house to her new one sat calmly behind him, its root ball wrapped in thick burlap. He saw something rather large on the left side of the small hole where he had just been trying to widen it. Just his luck. A big rock to try to dig out before he had to leave for a work meeting.
He pulled the well worn leather glove off his right hand and fished in his pocket for his cell phone. A moment later he had his sister on the line.
"Natalie, there's a rock."
"You can't get it out easily?"
A heavy sigh from too many late nights and too much unpacking carried over the line to him. "Alright, I'm coming out."
Soon the patio door slid open behind him and Natalie came out to join him. His niece Ainsley, all pig tails and sleepy eyes, trailing after her in her fluffy bunny slippers.
"Can I just move the bush to the right a foot?" He had a bad feeling that was too simple a solution. Natalie could be very... decided.
"Absolutely not. It'll through off the whole balance. Let's have a look at this rock." Somehow Carl managed to keep from rolling his eyes.
After four minutes of contemplation the three had decided that it might not in fact be a rock but the dented corner of a tool box. Natalie went and got her trowel to start digging away at the sides of the hole, and Carl started digging down from a little further out. Ainsley curled up on the ground next to them as she had been ordered out of the way, sitting Indian style with her fluffy slippers set carefully off to the side. Her sleepy eyes had been replaced with bright ones and cheeky over energetic grin as she practically bounced in place.
After about twenty minutes they finally worked it out of the ground. To the top of it, sealed in plastic, a letter had been taped that read through the smudges of dirt simply "To the Finder".
"Maybe we should wash our hands before we open it?" It was agreed, and the trouped back indoors, Carl carrying the case (after having brushed it off as much as possible) and Ainsley her slippers. They walked through to the laundry sink and then carefully washed their hands. Natalie found a letter opener to slice the plastic and fish it out. The envelope was remarkably pristine for having been hiding out in the ground for a long enough amount of time for the grass to have settled in over its head.
Inside was a small white slip of paper covered with a few short lines of spidery handwriting to match that written on the front of the letter.
I am going to hope that you are a gardener and not someone building a pool. Inside are all the heirloom seeds my husband collected from his gardening over the years. He is gone now, and I am moving where they can't be of use to me. All those years of collecting, I just couldn't quite throw them out. Hopefully you will find these helpful in your new gardening adventures.
Carl opened the box, and inside were hundreds of little labelled envelopes. "Guess you'll be needing me a little more regularly as a gardener, eh, sis?" She grinned at him, then started flipping through envelopes, dreaming of late summer bounty.