"The bags of mulch," my mother stated, looking intently at me as if I knew what she was talking about.
"What?" I asked, confused as usual.
"The bags of mulch aren't going to move themselves, Lucy." She sighed and stabbed the bag of red mulch with her shovel, pushing it in my direction. "Open one and start dragging it along the border I made."
I only made it a step or two before she barked, "Wait!" I stopped, Mother-May-I style.
"Put these on first," she threw a pair of cloth gloves at me, which I obediently slid over my hands.
This was not how I wanted to spend my first free Saturday in months, spreading mulch and playing in the dirt. But if we were going to sell the house, it needed to be done. So I walked over to where she stood, grabbed the first plastic sack and began to unload its contents where she'd told me to. Seconds later, I heard a clank and my mother's poorly hidden stream of curse words. I looked over my shoulder to find her poking at the dirt with the metal shovel tip.
"There's something here," she said.
"It's probably just a root or something," I said, wiping the sweat from my forehead before it dripped into my eyes. God, I hated living in Florida. The humidity was unbearable.
"Roots don't clank." She dug around some more until a round metal tin surfaced enough for us to get it the rest of the way out. It was a simple metal cylinder about the size of a paper towel roll, capped at one end, no marks, no...well, nothing.
We looked at it like it was an alien life form. "What the hell is that thing?" I voiced the thought that was running through both our minds.
"Hell if I know," she answered. "Let's open it and see?" The last was more of a question than anything. She finally looked at me instead of the container, basically asking my permission to open it.
"Go for it. The worst it could do is chop off your hand," I shrugged my shoulders and giggled as she flung it to the ground.
"Oh, sheesh, Ma, I was just kidding." I bent down and picked it up for myself, expecting it to be heavier than it was. Nothing happened when I popped it open. A monster didn't jump out at me, no mysterious smoke came pouring out the top, which from the look on my mom's face, is what she had expected to happen. I tipped it upside down and a rolled up paper came sliding out.
“Who buries their blueprints in the front yard?” I asked, incredulous. Here I was, thinking we’d hit some big lottery winnings or something really interesting and all I got for my excitement was a sheet of paper with a blue sketch on it. Yippee.
Without looking at it any further, I shoved the design back into the tube and smacked the top closed. It’s too bad… there was a lot more to that old house than first glance.