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House and Garden

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House and Garden


An isolated country house on a parcel of overgrown land refuses to be gentrified by a girl from the city who is gradually terrorized by the nature that surrounds her.

Elise, a socially awkward professional single woman finally buys a piece of real estate – a house with a garden – which she feels she can shape to her own desires.  Her need to control her surroundings, her fatal flaw, will never be directed to a human partner.  Instead she turns her energy toward taming nature.

An odd-looking real estate agent has sold her the parcel after the previous owners have abruptly abandoned the house, a bungalow with a creepily over-grown garden.  As Elise attempts to weed and groom her property, it seems to fight against her.  Bugs bite her, thorns pierce her, gardening tools are ripped from her hands and mysteriously disappear.

She feels the dislike of the townsfolk toward the city people who keep buying up the countryside only to domesticate it to city tastes.  Are they behind the creeping dangers that assault her at every turn? Or is there some larger malevolent force in play?

Just then, the pharmacist emerged from behind the stacks, his half glasses resting at the tip of his nose. He pulled them off and held them in the crook of his pinky, as he tossed a folder in front of the clerk.

“Check this out will you dear?” he said to the clerk. “Whatever bug Mr. Decker’s got is resistant and he’s going to need something a bit stronger. The blue bottles, I think.” The clerk took the folder and busied herself as the man turned his attention to Elise, his spindly brows lifted in a question.

“Mr. Henry?” Elise asked.

“That’s me. What can I help you with miss?”

“Margaret my broker suggested I… my thumb, I cut it, and I think I need…”

“Of course dear, let me see…Glory! How’d you manage this?”

“My new house, “ Elise laughed sheepishly. “I got a giant splinter I think.”

“Your new house did this to you?”

“I guess there was some rotting wood near one of the light switches…”

“Just needs a little putty I s’pose. Let me give you something for the pain, and something to prevent infection.”

“Do you think I ought to show this to a doctor?” Elise asked.

He looked at her as if she’d suggested showing it to a policeman, or a housepainter.

“No dear. I think I’ve seen a cut or two in my day. Don’t you worry, I don’t think it’s fatal.” Elise felt a tiny bit embarrassed.

He nodded to the clerk who disappeared behind the shelves. He turned back to Elise.

“Just bought the place did ya?”

“Yep - just did. Moved in last month and now I’m trying to fix it up.”

“Which one is that?”

“On Monroe? The white bungalow about three…”

“Yep. Know it. Must be nice inside. Changed hands quite a few times. Margaret’s made a killing on that place.”

The clerk appeared with a slender brown bottle, the pills rattling inside. “Here you go miss,” said Mr. Henry. “These will fix you up quick.” Elise took the bottle, intrigued by its brown glass. It’s like it’s from another era, she thought.

“Are these… do I need a prescription?”

“Naw. This is over the counter stuff, no need for all that. It works is all you need to know.” Elise was dubious, but then didn’t everyone seem to be using holistic remedies these days? These people knew more about nature than she did. And seeing a doctor for a splinter began to seem more and more like a city girl’s over-reaction.

“Okay. Great. Thanks!”

“Take care of yourself now. You show that place who’s boss!” Mr. Henry winked.

Elise laughed lightly and waved goodbye as she walked toward the exit. She glanced back down the aisle where the couple had been and saw there was now another set of urban escapees, hefting the birdfeeders. She smiled. We’re all in this together, she thought. Something Mr. Henry had said played at the corners of her mind, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was, as she started her car and pulled out into the road.

  • Word Count: 12,200
  • Author: Deb Victoroff
  • Heat Level: 5
  • ISBN: 978-1-61937-066-1
  • Artist: Kelly Shorten
  • Editor: Annie Seaton

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