Harry dug his fingers into the earth, feeling for the roots of the weed, clutching, pulling them from the well-tended ground, and carefully placing them into the pail that his Aunt Petunia had given him.
He’d found through frantic searches through the gardening magazines his Aunt wanted him to throw out that if you only plucked the stem of the weed, their roots would allow them to shoot back up. That’s what he got from the pictures, anyway. It was the white squiggles he had to get.
Without, it would mean that when Aunt Petunia checked in the morning it would seem as though he’d come back into the house without finishing his work.
That was Bad.
Getting their roots also meant that Harry could go to his Cupboard sooner, and get more sleep. Less weeds to pull again that he’d gotten the night before, too.
It was only recently that Harry had managed to prove he was adept in identifying the weeds from the not-weeds enough to allow his Aunt to not hover over his shoulders, hard knuckles on hard hips, as she made sure he didn’t pull out a daisy, or a tulip.
As if he would, they were too pretty….
But then again, his Aunt wanted him to pull out Dandelions.
Dandelions were Beautiful.
When he’d finally passed that marker, he’d been told that he was to work on the Garden at night, so the neighbors wouldn’t see him.
That would be Bad.
Harry was not to show himself to the neighbors more than what was necessary, because neighbors Talked.
It was Bad when they Talked.
But it was when they Talked he found out that he had a name. Harry.
He held that information close.
Before he overheard the neighbors, he’d been jealous of Dudley, since he had a name, and sometimes even got called a variation of Boy, like “Darling Boy,” or “Wonderful Little Boy”. It wasn’t fair that Dudley got to use Harry’s name as well as his own. But Harry had a name now, and that was one less hardship in his life.
So Harry was to weed the back Garden after dinner, and once it was Dark he was to weed the front Garden.
He’d quickly learned not to waste time jumping at the Noises.
Samuel had said that the Noises wouldn’t hurt him.
Samuel was Smart.
His name wasn’t actually Samuel, but he didn’t have a name that Harry could remember, so he asked Samuel if he minded if Harry called him Samuel.
In the Big Place the Sad Man said that Samuel meant Heard of God or "God has heard", and Samuel had shown up when Harry wished that he would have someone with him, so perhaps God had been listening the way his Aunt and Uncle hadn’t.
Harry thought that perhaps God might be nice, but he didn’t seem like he wanted to listen to anything else Harry said, so he thought he was rather like his Uncle.
God didn’t listen unless he could get something from it. Harry would finish faster with someone there. It would be Bad to ask his Uncle if he’d sent Samuel though.
Harry had asked Samuel if he’d been sent by his Uncle, and Samuel had answered that he’d come over because he was scaring the crickets from their hiding places, and Harry was content in handing Samuel any bugs that he caught.
Samuel talked to Harry differently.
He didn’t have the same way of speaking to him as his Aunt and Uncle did, nor did he have the same way of speaking to him as the neighbors did.
He talked to Harry the way Harry sometimes talked to himself, when his Aunt and Uncle hadn’t said anything to him that particular day, and he spoke so that he would have something to respond to.
Sometimes Harry spoke to himself anyways, even when his Aunt and Uncle had talked at him, because in his conversations to himself he could answer with more than ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ or ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘no ma’am’ and he didn’t get frowned at or have his head hurt, or have to listen to the way that they spoke the way that Samuel didn’t speak to him.
Samuel was Nice.
Harry got up, careful not to dig his knees into the grass that his Uncle had said that he would be able to mow in a few years, and moved down a little in the Garden in order to get more weeds into his bucket. He would soon have to empty his bucket into the bin, as it was getting rather full.
Harry was glad it wasn’t raining, or he would have to make more trips to the bin even if it wasn’t full, because the rain somehow made it heavier.
Harry had once tried to do something he’d glanced at from the telly, as the large and shiny man had said that he could make him stronger if he did it, but he hadn’t managed to do many of the pushes, and he couldn’t tell if he’d managed to do ten.
The shiny man said to do ten, and Harry had carefully counted each of his fingers on one of his hands up to five of his pushes, his arms trembling as they struggles to hold his weight up, but then he had to stop, frustrated.
Ten was more than five fingers! How was he to know he’d reached ten if he didn’t have ten fingers?
He’d done a few more pushes until he thought he might’ve reached ten, and collapsed onto his bed, exhausted.
His arms had felt wiggly the next morning as well, and he’d dropped a plate of bacon.
That was Bad.
Harry decided that he’d continue to try doing the pushes, but only five, and only after he’d finished with the front Garden.
The Garden was Important.
The front Garden was the only time he could meet up with Samuel, and he’d found that even when his Aunt and Uncle hadn’t spoken to him that day, he could get by without speaking to himself because Samuel would drop by at some point, and they’d talk, with Harry handing Samuel spiders and ants and crickets that he learned to catch.
If Harry could get enough of them, then Samuel would stay longer.
Weeding and watering the Garden was the only time where he could be left alone by his Aunt and Uncle, the only time when his Aunt and Uncle would tell Dudley to leave him alone.
The only time.
The Garden was Important.
Harry still had to go to The Big Place every Sunday and sit on the hard benches and listen to the Sad Man speak. Occasionally he didn’t speak of Sad things, and Harry very much wanted to ask him why he always talked of such Sad things if he wanted to make the other people in the Big Place happy.
Harry didn’t much like going to the Big Place, and eventually his Aunt and Uncle stopped bringing him, once his clothing got too dirty and grass stained to bring him.
Harry admitted to Samuel that he was happy that he didn’t have to go there again, and Samuel agreed that it didn’t seem as though there was any point in going to an uncomfortable place to hear about how the death of someone was supposed to make them feel better.