Just some lovely flowers from my garden (aka the only things I haven’t killed yet).
The Girl in the Well
My arms ache with anger and my fingers tingle from clenching. I thought he saw me. I thought he finally saw me.
I’m not going to cry.
The straw in my mattress is poking against the back of my thighs and the blood there is drying and making my skin tighten and itch. I rise, tugging down my skirts, and pad on bare feet out of the house and into the garden.
The moon is shining full and bright upon the orderly rows of vegetables as I follow the hard-packed path to the well. There’s a bucket that can be lowered when I carry water into the house but I simply lean over and dip a rag into the frigid black water. I don’t bother to ring it out; I hike up my skirts and let the icy rivulets flow down my legs as I wash off the evidence of his perfidy.
I lean over again to wet the rag.
“Etheldred,” a throaty voice whispers. I drop the rag and get splashed as I nearly fall into the well.
“Who’s there?” I whisper looking around and straightening, but no one is there.
The water in the well bubbles. When I look in, I see a blue-white face staring back at me. It blinks. Gasping, I step back from the well.
“Who are you?” I ask the water, half-sure there won’t be answer.
“My name is Nesta. Come here, Etheldred,” she commands. “I’m here to help you.”
I stop breathing. “Help with what?”
The well ripples with raspy laughter. “With Noll of course!”
My face warms and I back-up another step. “What do you know?” I ask through clenched teeth.
“I know everything, Etheldred. It’s a special gift from the Gods,” she answers slowly. “Now come here.”
My feet are noiseless as I obey. I peer over the rim of the well. Nesta smiles at me. I cross my arms. I don’t move closer.
“That’s better, I guess.” She gives a throaty sigh.
I wait silently.
“This is a lovely garden, Etheldred.”
“It’s such a shame about it,” she says, her black eyes closing for a moment, a smile rippling on her blue lips.
“What’s a shame?” I can’t help myself. I have to know.
“Well, once your Uncle learns what a whore you’ve been, he’ll be sure to turn you out. You’ll lose everything, dear.”
I swallow the lump that’s suddenly formed in my throat like a too large bite of sour apple. Will Noll betray me? One look at Nesta’s black eyes and I know he will. He has before.
“What should I do?” I move closer.
“Make Noll fall desperately in love with you.” She gives me a wink and a silver chalice floats to surface. “I have a spell.”
I look around my garden, at the vines expertly trained, the rows meticulously weeded, the flowers closed for the night.
“I have a spell of my own,” I whisper, moving away from the well.
A/N: Happy April Fools! I hope you enjoyed our mash-ups. We were inspired by last month’s Craft Discussion: World Building.
I love flash fiction, mostly because I lack patience, but also because it forces me to be really critical of the words I use (like my overuse of the word really). So here is my short, short story…
Mr. McGregor’s Garden
“What are you doing?”
Her voice cut into me like a weed-whacker into crab grass. But I ignored her and continued to shovel dirt. I worked the soil for hours last fall, but the cold, dry winter had packed it hard. I had to push my boot brutally down on the shovel to inch the worn metal into the earth.
When I paused to wipe the sweat out of my eyes with a greasy shop rag, she was there, fretting just out of sight.
“What are you doing?” she asked again, her voice high and squeaky in irritation.
“Leave me alone, Violet!” My voice was a hoarse stage whisper.
“You could just tell me.”
I walked off to the back of my pickup. I should not have answered, now I could feel her smug smile prodding my back. In the pickup bed, lined up like eggs in a carton, were the new plants. Nothing but thorns and sticks, brown and lifeless now; I knew they would do the trick. I nestled a couple in the crook of my arm against the worn brown leather and carried them back. I placed them deep in their new homes and let their roots spread to explore the crags and pits of the dry dirt.
“What. Are. Those?”
“Roses.” I smiled to myself at her sharp intake of breath, like a sudden gust of wind through the still bare trees.
“I hate roses.”
With a couple more trips, I had all the roses in the ground. I scooped up the extra dirt and packed each plant in securely.
“They won’t grow,” she argued. “You didn’t fertilize the soil.”
I lumbered toward the house, leaving her. “You can take care of that, Violet.”
Each day tilted me closer to summer. The shiny olive-colored leaves broke free from their stems and the thorns reddened. The flowerbed was thick and full, solid. By the time the flowers were encased in near bursting buds, Violet had stopped talking to me.
I knew the flowers had opened when I woke up that day, the air heavy and hot, July sunshine beating through the single-pane windows. I almost bounded down the creaky steps, but I held back, savoring the moment of triumph. I kept my eyes on the patchy green grass until I was almost at the flowerbed. I lifted my eyes. I choked.
As I fell to my knees, I heard Violet’s soft laugh trickle up from the dirt.
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