This piece is one in a chronological series.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
5. Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation
May 22 – Part 1 Stone Lady Paper Boots Dredge Half Yours, Half His Flower Seller
When You Must End Love Talk Scorpio Rising Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude Reliability dead girl Soft Witch
a sapling dies, like all the rest. I am not a gardener. I am a groundskeeper, always
most at home among dead things. nothing grows here. there is comfort in the consistency.
seeds are fertilizer for moldy memories, these slowly disintegrate. the soil is rotten, filled with salt. a seed sits heavy in my pocket, waiting for life. i saw its death already last night, in a dream. “I’m sorry” I tell it quietly. “There’s nothing for you here.” It is time to stop planting in cemeteries and expect a different result. I touch it lightly, turn it in my fingers, feel its little ridges, edges ripe with memories, locked inside its seams, a smile tugs half my face, the little eye on the other side spies what I need.
No effort, I think. No pots, no shovels, no fresh soil from the other side, no tears, no water, no sunlight, no time, nothing. nothing for you little seed. there’s no point, little seed. you can’t grow here, little seed. time for you to die, little seed.
it curves a gentle arc in the night sky when i throw it into the nearest open grave –
catches it in a fist. It is a scene from a show about zombies. This is how it starts, I wonder. The zombie apocalypse. Its skin has disintegrated around the palm, tendons snap, bone crunches. She does not wince as she raises her head slightly, all I can see is the scythe of her smile peeking out from under her hat, wide brimmed and perfect for late spring and completely inappropriate for the sombre setting. her chin has grown back in half, the other side still wounded flesh, ripped tissue.
“Oh,” I say. “It’s you.”
“Why are you here?” She asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. “It’s happening again – ”
“It isn’t,” BeingLovedAgain says. “I won’t let it.” She still has her hand in a fist, arm outstretched. “Watch.” When opens her fingers, the seed sticks to her bloody palm. I see it slowly start to sink into her hand, tissue wraps itself like a spiderweb around the seed, drawing it into her flesh.
“What are you doing?” I ask her.
“Writing a different story,” she says. “I’m keeping this, by the way,” and nods toward the seed. Her hat bobs.
“Fine,” I say. “Fine, that’s just fine.” She waves her little half formed hand like a post-apocalyptic magician, and the seed finishes sinking into her flesh . “Nothing grows here, so what’s the point?” I say matter-of-factly.
“That is the point. Nothing grows. Here. Why are you here.” It’s not a question this time.
“Maybe I belong here,” I say, but the words don’t even make it past my lips. They feel stuck. Her smile widens as my eyes widen in surprise. She opens her mouth sticks out her tongue – my tongue – and when she speaks it is with my voice. “You don’t belong here.”
“You’re stronger than you think,” she says.
Immediately, I open my mouth ready to argue.
“Ugh fine, I’m stronger than you think – is that better? More believable?”
Yes. It is. I nod.
“Good! Then it’s time.” She claps her hands together, and the sound is odd – flesh still sticks to her wounds. “It’s time to leave!”
“But I -” blink
and the heart is a garden again.