Friday, May 18, 2018

How Does Your Garden Grow?

There’s a kind of funny story behind this story.

Last week I got the title as a prompt, the idea being to writing around 500 words on it. It was supposed to be done for today. Naturally I put it off. And put it off. Finally, a couple of days ago, I got an idea.

Actually, I got three ideas and I liked them all. But I only needed one, so I was forced to choose. And then the words dried up.

But today I finally went to the walk-in clinic about the cold I’ve had for the last 6 weeks or so, and I deliberately left my book at home and took a notebook instead. During my 2 hour wait, I wrote the following story.

And just so you know, I got home with just enough time to type it up before I had to leave to meet up with my writing group where I received some excellent feedback. The story below, however, is my original one. Unedited. :-)

How Does Your Garden Grow?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

Julia stiffened at the slightly mocking, singsong voice. “My name’s not Mary,” she snapped, jabbing the spade a little more forcibly into the ground than was strictly necessary.

“It might as well be.”

Julia ground her teeth just the slightest bit as the shadow of her neighbour, Richard, fell over her.

“You act like the virgin Mary,” he continued. “You never go anywhere or do anything fun. I could show you a real fun time – all you have to do is say the word.”

Was he watching her that he knew what she did and didn’t do? That was over the line creepy. “The word is no.” Julia gathered up her gardening tools and got to her feet. “And just because there’s a hole in the hedge doesn’t mean you’re welcome in my yard.”

The smarmy grin on Richard’s face slipped. “I’m starting to lose my patience.”

“I have some place I need to be,” Julia said evenly. “Please leave the way you came.”

“Have it your way,” Richard said with a careless shrug. “But you’re only delaying the inevitable. I always get what I want.” He turned to leave but glanced back, giving her a leer. “And I definitely want you.”

Julia gave a faint shudder as she watched him leave.

The hole in the hedge bothered her. She’d been called away for an overnight trip and when she came home again there was the hole. Richard claimed it had been an accident – something about a party and someone falling through, but her gut told her he was lying.

When dusk fell Julia turned off the lights in her house before slipping outside into her back yard. She inhaled the fragrant scents of the night blooming flowers and felt the cares of the day slip away.

One of the reasons she chose this house to live in was the relative seclusion of the backyards. The houses in this neighbourhood were built low, and the hedges grew high giving the illusion of privacy.

She went over to examine the gap in the hedge more closely. The gap was substantial and looked more like someone had hacked away at it than fell through it. Something needed to be done about it but Richard would notice if it filled in too quickly.

Music began blasting from the house next door. Her lips tightened. He was like a blot on the neighbourhood. If it wasn’t his parties or hitting on his neighbours, it was the music he had blasting away in complete disregard to anyone preferring peace and quiet.

As though her thoughts summoned him, he appeared in the gap in the hedge. “Changed your mind?” he asked with a grin. “I knew you would. It was only a matter of time.”

Moonlight shone down on them. With a start she realized the moon was full. And it was midsummer. She smiled, and had Richard not been so sure of a conquest, that smile would have sent a shiver down his spine.

“Your place or mine, baby,” he asked, grin growing wider.

“Why not right here?” Julia said, taking a few steps closer. Her hands began moving in the moonlight, almost like she was trying to weave it.

Richard watched, puzzled, then looked at her face again. “What—” His eyes widened in fear as he tried to move. “What’s going on?”

Julia moved another step forward, the moonlight giving her skin a greenish cast, her hands moving more rapidly. New growth from the hedge snaked through the gap. Slim branches slide effortlessly beneath Richard’s skin.

“What’s happening to me?”

“You put a hole in my hedge,” Julia said reasonably, “Now you’re fixing it. I didn’t have enough resources of my own, but yours will do nicely.”

“What are you?” Richard’s voice was an agonized whisper.

“I’m a dryad of course. And it’s never a good idea to piss off a dryad.”

There was no answer from the Richard-like shape now filling the gap in the hedge. By morning there would be no sign he’d ever been there.

“And you should never mess with a dryad’s garden.”

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