Psst…You can download the printable version of this story, with definitions, here!
We’re back this week with another vocabulary-boosting short story!
A parody poking fun at an archetype in society today, “Karen and the Weed” is a lighthearted tale about a woman frustrated by her neighbor’s (lack of) lawn maintenance.
Featuring nearly 30 high-frequency SAT words, it’s both educational and entertaining! Listen and read along below.
“On my count, and…go.”
Clad entirely in black, from her headband to her yoga pants, Karen scrabbled over the fence into her neighbors’ yard.
She’d hoped to be more elegant about it. James Bond-like, even, harkening back to her days as a gymnast. But she landed with a thud on her ample posterior before springing to her feet.
“I’m in position,” she radioed back to Mr. Karen. “God, it’s even worse close-up.”
Before her, a weed the size of a small child loomed against the back fence. Like a Venus Fly Trap, it seemed to be luring her in.
Karen donned her industrial-strength gardening gloves, ready to end the battle that had been waging — in her head, mostly — for months.
At first, Karen was amused by her neighbors’ disinterest in their lawn. Even the weeds didn’t bother her, thanks to her HOA’s insistence on sturdy wooden fences between homes.
But you know those weeds that look like prickly lotus plants? Well apparently, if no one cuts or sprays them, they grow. Not just out, but up.
When this one became the size of a small ruler, Karen summoned her husband to take a look. She had a prime view of her neighbor’s backyard from the window of her home office.
“I mean, they’ve got to pull it now,” she said. “Who can ignore that?”
Their neighbors could, apparently. And the weed continued to grow, its impact crescendoing in Karens’ consciousness until she could take it no more.
“It’s not like I can just ask them to pull it,” Karen remarked to Mr. Karen one morning over coffee. “How do you even start that conversation? ‘Hey, your yard’s starting to look like something out of Jumanji…The old one, I mean… Maybe take care of that?’”
Mr. Karen got a speculative gleam in his eye. “We could try to lasso it. Or I could try to spray some heavy duty weed killer over the fence.”
Karen stifled a laugh, then muttered, “Too far away…It would be so easy, though…”
Approaching the wretched eyesore, Karen recalled that catalyzing conversation.
“I’ll make this quick,” she whispered to the weed, which up close, rose almost to her chest.
Crouching down, she grabbed the overgrown greenery near the base and yanked. It loosened its grip on the earth with surprisingly little resistance, trailing a gnarled ball of dirt and roots.
“Make it quick!” Mr. Karen hissed into his walkie. “I just saw a light.”
Karen’s eyes flashed to the house. A downstairs light was, indeed, on.
She froze, holding the weed at arm’s length for what seemed an interminable time. The sound of her breathing mingled with the howls of a hound in the distance. What would she do if caught red-handed? Dirt-handed? Was there even a phrase for weeding someone else’s yard?
The moment the light turned off, Karen hurled the odious plant back over the fence like an Olympic discus thrower.
Not appreciating its callous treatment, the weed shot a fine spray of dirt in her eyes as a parting gift.
“Pfft…” she wiped her eyes, then hopped the fence with far more alacrity than she had the first time.
Disposing of the remains in a black trash bag, her husband pulled her in for a hug. “It’s not like they’ll notice,” he said. “You did them a favor, really.”
THE NEXT MORNING
“Mommy, it worked!” the neighbor’s child pulled on his mother’s hand, dragging her across the yard.
Karen and Mr. Karen were having breakfast outside, partially because it was a nice morning, partially because they were monitoring for fallout.
“My science experiment! It worked!” he squealed.
“What in the blazes is he talking about?” Karen muttered to her husband, barely moving her lips.
Mr. Karen raised his eyebrows, craning his head to hear better.
“But, honey…” Mrs. Next Door said to her son. “Even if you killed it using only those ingredients…where did it go?”
There was a heavy pause, then the child let out a primal cry of satisfaction. “I invented disappearing potion?!?!”
Karen shot a panicked look at Mr. Karen.
“Mrs. Olson will give me an A for sure!” he continued. “And this year, I’ll finally make the finals at the science fair! Oh my gosh, disappearing potion using only natural ingredients!”
The boy, who, to his credit, looked to be little older than eight, started running in circles with his hands overhead in victory.
“Eeegghhh,” Karen made a low voice in her throat.
That’s when Mrs. Next Door spotted them. Karen didn’t need to say anything. Guilt was writ large on her face.
“Karen,” Mrs. Next Door said. “You didn’t have something to do with my son’s miraculous science experiment, did you?”