The Perfect Garden. Short Story.

The last week has been a great one for me in terms of writing. I have 3 extra reviews on Amazon.com & .co.uk, all 5* ones as well, which is awesome, I’m extremely happy that they enjoyed the work enough to not only leave a review, but such high reviews as well!

In terms of sales, this week has been very good (well, I used the term sale loosely as Whispers in the Shadows (WITS from now on for ease) is downloadable for free everywhere.) and I have moved up the rankings in both England and America.

Currently, in England the ratings are as follows

WITS 1:
#106 overall in the free kindle store, (made it to #27 overall in free in England)

#2 in short stories and #5 in horror

WITS 2

#48 overall in the free kindle store (made it to #23 overall in free in England)

#1 in short stories and #3 in horror

which is insanely awesome, it is really bizarre to see that myself in the amazon free charts, especially at 1 AND 2 in short stories.

In America my ratings are:

WITS 1 #379 overall in the free kindle store

#11 in short stories, #20 in horror

WITS 2 #146 overall in the free kindle store

#3 in short stories, #5 in horror.

I have dropped in America but I am still pretty high in the lists, the highest I was at was with WITS 2 at #66 which was amazing. I am extremely pleased to have reached that high at all!

So the past week has been extremely awesome.

Also, I was quite lucky today, I didn’t get up early to register for electives because I was extremely tired and when I got to it, I found that they shut down the system due to problems and unregistered anyone who was able to register to electives and elective registration is closed till Wednesday, so glad I didn’t get up insanely early or anything!

Anyway, on with the show!

——————————————————————————————-

The Perfect Garden

She sipped her coffee, it was hot and bitter, normally she added milk and sugar, but not this time. She didn’t want the taste diluted. Occasionally she did this with her drinks and foods, tasted them unaltered. It allowed her to appreciate the changes she made. If she ate nothing but amazing food, it would eventually become bland. The extraordinary would become ordinary. There was still half a cup left, she planned to drink the entire thing, but it was sitting in her stomach, heavy and acidic, sighing, she poured the rest of it down the sink. She would appreciate her next cup all the more, perhaps add a little extra spice, maybe some vanilla sugar to help bring out the flavours.

The kitchen was large with wide open spaces and floor to ceiling windows which flooded with room with light, the colour scheme was cream, which made the light all the brighter, making the room seem bigger, the marble countertops gleamed, cleaned and scrubbed to perfection daily. The appliances were chrome and anything that could be hidden behind drawers was, artfully slipping back into its cabinet. Flowers and lamps were placed carefully about the room, adding splashes of colour to the otherwise plain scheme.

The house was always kept clean, she did a check every morning to make sure there was nothing amiss, an easy job as she lived alone, anything she found out of place was put back, anything dirty was cleaned. The entire house was cleaned once every two weeks. Despite her propensity for neatness, her favourite place was the garden, where she had tried and failed to impose order. Oh yes, she could arrange flowers and flower beds and make everything appear somewhat neat and planned, but nature didn’t like to be so neat. It was a constant battle, one that she found peaceful and relaxing. A trowel in one hand, the other tugging at some offending plant or weed. The cool, damp feeling of the earth as it stuck to her skin, the deep smells the surrounded her.

She made sure to plant something new at least once a month and, during winter, she would wait impatiently for the earth to soften once more so she could go back to her tending. She continued winter maintenance but, with growth slowed there was not much to do, the garden looked drab and grey unless it snowed and then everything took on new dimensions, everything clean and bright and white. She liked the difference that came with winter and summer, though sometimes it did depress her, the stark contrast, this more than anything prevented her from researching plants that bloomed, or retained colour during the winter months. Instead, everything receded, died or shed it’s leaves while waiting for the new year to begin, the trees dotted around the garden becoming skeletal sentinels, guarding the garden against any intrusions until next year when everything would be in full bloom.

Working in the garden soothed her thoughts which were sometimes chaotic, it was peaceful and quiet and it held so many memories. It had always been her refuge as a child, if something upset her, she would go outside and start gardening, kneeling for hours, digging and planting. It would calm her down and allow her to assess her thoughts slowly, one at a time, she could think things over and there was no one there to rush her or judge her, if she needed to she could tell the plants her problems and they would listen. They wouldn’t offer advice, as she sometimes wished they would, but they would listen, their heads nodding in the breeze and, sometimes, it appeared in sympathy. It wouldn’t be that unlikely, considering the fertiliser she used. As far as she was concerned the flowers absorbed aspects of the person buried beneath them. They’d have a brighter shine because she had shiny hair, they’d be flawless because he had perfect skin. They always seemed to perk up when a new person was added and she liked to think the flowers absorbed their soul too, so they were there, listening and commiserating with her.

She liked to bury them in the sunshine when she could, though sometimes it was nice if there was only a light hazing of rain cooling her down, making everything moist and damp. She had high walls with trees lining them and the houses were well spaced out so no one would see what she was doing, she always buried them deep, so the rain and elements wouldn’t be able to unearth them, and wild animals would not be tempted to dig for them. She was always methodical about it. First she would see the person, it could be anywhere really, at the shops, while out eating, during her walks, then, after selecting them, she would decide what flowers needed them the most or, sometimes, which flowers seemed to suit them. There was one woman, a few years back, who always had the most gorgeous perfumes, so she was buried underneath the stargazer lilies and in only a few days their scent got noticeably stronger and much sweeter, the honey bees loved those flowers that year and still favoured them over her other plants.

She was wrapped up tightly in her warm coat, she was going shopping today, finding a new addition for her garden. Most of the time she didn’t look for anyone specifically, they just jumped out at her, but, this year had been slow, she hadn’t seen anyone in a while and her garden was starting to look a little lacklustre, and with winter coming she wanted to have someone planted so the flowers next year would be even more beautiful.

She would find someone, she always did. She never had any rules about who she took, everyone was equal game, even if someone was physically ugly, they had a redeeming feature of some kind. The woman with the beautiful hair was herself, not so beautiful. Living alone and unloved. She had been saved, now she lived with the others, forever beautiful. The only people she never took were children. Not for any sentimental reasons, she had seen one or two that would have been a great addition to the garden, adding some youthful vigour, but children were looked after and looked for. Oh yes, not every child was a media star when they went missing, but she didn’t want to take the chance. Normally the people that were chosen for her, because she didn’t believe she had any control over it most of the time, were alone or lonely. Few had family, or at least, not family that cared.

There was a man sitting on the bench, he seemed to be drawing the trees in front of him. Smiling, she sat down beside him. He was perfect in every way. They sat in silence for a few moments, the only noise the scratching of pencil against the paper and the occasionally shrieks of delights the wind drew from the playground. After a few moments, he finished his drawing and, pulled out of his own world, he noticed she was there.  She smiled again, “Wow, that’s an amazing sketch.” He smiled, and blushed slightly “thanks.” He glanced away nervously, then back at the drawing. He was the one. She could feel it. “I’m Zoë”, she smiled and held out her hand, he took it carefully, his skin was smooth and clear, though slightly smudged with pencil, she had the perfect place for him, the Violets were looking a little blemished lately.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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