It’s the year 2067; I’m sitting in my living room, in my worn arm chair, in front of a crackling fireplace, smoking a long wooden pipe, surrounded by my grandchildren. My arms bear the marks of past battles.
“Grandma, how did you get all these scars?” my eldest grandson asks. Memories of thorns scratching my legs and piercing my skin flash before my eyes. Growling, moaning, cursing; I hear my companions’ exclamations of pain as if it was 2016 again. I inhale my slightly stale tobacco and close my eyes.
“Children, it’s about time I told you about the great gorse war of Waitawa”
“Over there”. The ranger points towards some wetlands eastwards. “Kill every single one of them”. My partner spits onto the swampy ground. Our boots have almost dried in the spring sun; they are now covered in crumbly mud.
“Even the little ones?” He asks while slowly filling a spray bottle with bright blue poison.
“Especially the little ones. All you find. Don’t leave any witnesses”. The deal is made. We don’t ask why, it doesn’t matter how, as long as they are dead the rangers are happy. I take my loppers and adjust my hat.
The ranger wishes us good luck. She looks us in the eye; she knows we will be changed people once we return; if we return. We walk towards the rising sun and mentally prepare ourselves for a fierce battle. In the distance, I can hear the ranger’s voice
A yellow-withering graveyard lies in front of us, the ground is covered in dying gorse. My shirt hangs in shreds from my scratched up body, torn to rags by the brutal defence of the enemy. Yes, we are tired, thirsty, and aching, but we did a good job today. We did what needed to be done. I know that these memories will haunt me for the rest of my life. I will not be able to look at nature the same way again. Yes, it was hard, my arms are tired, my legs are sore, but we did a good job. I let my eyes wander over the battle field and take off my sweat and dirt-stained gloves. Death and destruction, that was our gift to the otherwise peaceful little meadow.
“Now the little ‘nukas will be able to grow and get strong again” I mumble in grim satisfaction while I pull a thorn out of my hands. I know that my partner feels the same way. He looks at me, and, as he tries to hide the horror he experienced behind a smug smile, says: “Veni, vidi, occidi, that’s how we always do it, Kat, veni, vidi, occidi.”
My grandchildren look at me in awe. “So you actually fought in the weed wars, Grandmother?”, my sweet little grandson asks.
“Yes, my dear, I did, but that was a long time ago. Now I am old, and that’s all in the past” I smile at them. I am glad that I was able to leave all of that behind, at least mostly.
“Have you really killed all of them? Even the little ones?”
“We did, we wiped them out so that they will not bother anyone again, and you little ones can live in a world without gorse”
“But there are still some bushes!”
“Yes, I saw some, with spikey thorns, and yellow, coconut-scented flowers, just as you said! Look, out there!”
The children seem to be certain. I get up, breathing heavily, and walk over to the window. I haven’t actually looked out there for years; I couldn’t bear the thought of spotting any weed. I brace myself, I feel an adrenalin rush, my heart hasn’t beaten like that in years. I don’t want to, but I risk a glance. My eyes aren’t the best anymore, the pale veal of grey star lies on them. But they wouldn’t betray me like this, so I know it’s true. Yellow dots, on spikey bushes.
I imagine what it would be like to kill this thing, the creaking of the cut stems, the crackling of falling branches, but I’m too old for this. I know that the gorse might actually win this time. Still, I have no choice. I do what I must do. I take my old, rusty loppers out of a dusty wooden chest, gorse wood, in fact, and sadly smile at my former partner’s picture on the fire place.
“We might meet again soon, old friend”
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Kat Mirabile.
Published on e-Stories.org on 12.03.2017.