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His vegetable garden was the best in the street and people were starting to take notice. Richard was proud of his garden. When asked about his crops, he would say, “ It’s all in the soil I use. It’s a mix I make myself. “

      Soon, people from all over the neighbourhood were asking to buy it and he obliged and sold his soil mix in abundance turning in a handsome profit. People had fine looking gardens and it drew the attention of a jovial short redhead named Fiona.

      At first Richard noticed her peeping over his fence and she was known to keep to herself. They struck up a friendship and her interests were gardening, her cat Smoochy, playing poker, and collecting cat figurines, but when she said it, it sounded like figurins, not  figureens.

She started buying soil from Richard and bought bags of it often. He was happy to help, as always. He liked her. She seemed harmless and her garden was becoming magnificent.

At the front of her house were sunflowers and in her backyard she grew pumpkins, rows of carrots and potatoes, and assorted edible herbs in plant boxes. She even had an Orange tree.

Her purchase of Richard’s soil became more frequent and one afternoon she knocked on his door and was behaving oddly. She wanted to buy a bag and was chewing her fingernails and looking around nervously. Her dress was dirty, hair unkempt, her hands, knees, and feet looked grubby.

      “ I sold you some three days ago, “ he said. “ What do you do with it? “

 She became agitated, “ Have you got any or not? “

“ Sure, “ he said. “ Come to the side door. I’ll meet you there. “

Then he never saw her again.

He was standing on his front lawn watering his hedges and flowers when a neighbour strolled by and said, “ Hey, Rich, did you hear about Fiona? “

“ No, “ he said. “ Is there anything wrong? “

“ She died. “

Richard was shocked, “ Oh! She was still so young. What happened to her? Do you know? “

“ She poisoned herself, I heard. She lay in bed decomposing for about ten days and the smell drew attention and someone called the Police. “

 Fiona had died from a blood infection and was found in bed bloated and rotting and Smoochy had eaten her nose, lips, ears, and fingers.

Upon closer inspection the Police found a bowl of soil and a spoon in bed beside her. Her house was littered with dirt and bags of Richard’s soil mix were stacked to the ceiling in some places. It was evident she had developed a fetish for eating it. 

On her bedroom wall were photographs of Richard’s garden but what disturbed Police the most were the photographs of men unknown to them asleep in bed beside their wives. Fiona had clearly been breaking into houses for years.

At the morgue her stomach consisted of nothing but soil and it was tested but nothing dangerous was found.

“ It’s funny, “ a mortician said. “ The cat didn’t eat her toes. I’ve encountered this before. They always eat the face and fingers but never the toes. “

For the people in the neighbourhood life went on as usual.

Fiona had a closed casket funeral service and no-one thought anything else of it. Some of her family attended, as did Richard. 

One afternoon not long after a neighbour approached Richard as he watered his garden. 

The neighbour said, “ You always have the best looking garden on the block. “

“ It’s all in the soil, “ Richard said. 

“ I’d agree. Works wonders on mine. “

A cat rubbed itself against Richard’s legs and he turned the hose off at the nozzle. He picked the cat up and it rubbed its face on his cheek.

“  Isn’t that Fiona’s old cat? “ the neighbour asked. 

“ You bet, “ Richard said. “ Good old Smoochy. When I heard she died I picked him up from the pound. They were going to put him to sleep but I agreed to take him. He’s a good boy. “ 

Smoochy rubbed his face into Richard’s chest.

“ I’ll tell you a secret about my soil mix, “ he said, babying the cat. “ All I mix in it is my crap. Mmm yeah. Just plain old feces. That’s all, little buddy. “

The neighbour chuckled and left them to it. 

     

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