Juanita sighed and braced her hands on her thighs. She winced as she rose to a standing position with her hand finding a familiar position on her back. She brushed the dark dirt from her pants.
“I’m getting too old for this, Jorge.”
She walked to Jorge and wiped away a spider web that had formed between his wing and the top of his head. She ran her hand along the edge of the table where Jorge lay.
She patted Jorge on the top of his head. “I’ll be back with more fertilizer.” She smiled at the impending mirth and continued the routine she established after her husband died so many years ago. “Don’t you go anywhere!”
Jorge had looked over Juanita’s garden for decades. He was a gift from her husband when she announced the vegetables at the supermarket were unfit for consumption.
They were a gardening duo with Juanita planting and caring for the neat rows of vegetables and Jorge guarding it from crows and other avian interlopers.
A scream followed by breaking glass emanated from Juanita’s house. As the day waned into night, Jorge became worried about the sweet old woman. She had left her gardening implements and had not returned with fertilizer. His eyes, perpetually cast towards the sky now rested on the house.
Another day came and went with no appearance of Juanita.
Jorge rose to the tips of his feet and stretched his wings, tail sticking straight up. He hadn’t remembered the last time he had moved. He leapt from his perch, the creaking and scraping of his wings arrested his descent. He padded softly towards the house to satisfy his curiosity and worry.
Jorge peered through a glass door and saw her. The same dirty pants and gloves from days prior. Her legs entangled in a lamp cord with a broken glass lamp near by. Jorge allowed a single tear and as the tear struck the flagstone patio, it turned to dust and lazily wafted in the morning breeze.
Jorge sat on his haunches for six days watching over Juanita. He no longer cared if crows violated the garden he cared for so long. He sat for two weeks after the police and coroner came and took his Juanita away. He watched as Juanita’s grandson sat on the couch and cried. He watched as Juanita’s son surveyed her belongings and boxed up the knick-knacks and tchotchkes.
He sat, unmoving as a testament to Juanita’s love of gardening and of life. With the house now empty, Jorge surveyed the house and garden one final time before preparing to leave when the glass door slid open.
Juanita’s grandson stepped out and looked towards the garden. He paused when he didn’t see Jorge on the table guarding the garden. He stepped forward and bumped Jorge with his foot.
Juanita’s grandson knelt down and lifted the carven dragon. “I miss her so, Jorge.” He regarded Jorge and his eyes lit up. “Come with me, Jorge. It’s time we start our own garden.”