LADY ANGELICA’S GARDEN
A Short Story by: Tami Sue Snow
It wasn’t often I laid my resplendent eye upon the orb of night, fixed as I was, amongst the spicy folds of terra. Kissed most often by day, by the glorious sun himself, and enveloped by the velvet skirts of delectable company.
Lady Angelica visited often. Knees pulled to her chest, shift billowing out around her like an inverted White Trumpet. Upon cool verdure she revealed to us her secret desires of love. Knowing they would never be realized.
Enchanted companions trapped beneath an azure sky. Longing for love and life and longing.
With much favor she flattered me. Christening my limbs with fine nectar of necromancy, she sustained my fragile life, indefinitely. Alas, the same comforts would not be afforded her.
My heart, consumed by love for her, swelled. When, with large blue eyes she looked upon me, adoration lighting her face, a blush deepened my color. As the years passed, and wrinkles should have marked her age, creamy her complexion remained, as though hewn from the milky petal of a rose. It was the light in her eyes that faded. But still she never faltered in her daily oblations to baptize my whorls with charmed vapor.
Even when the vast country fields around us shrank and shriveled, and the breath of development panted heavy in our midst, she came to me. Through poetry she poured her heart. If I could have wept, I would have.
Into her palm she cupped my dewy cheek. “Fret naught, fair one. For not always will your fates be rooted and bound into the darkened earth.”
I shuddered at the promise she spoke. Her words clear as morning mist.
Soon it would come to pass.
Spires erupted from the ground, shaking the sacred soil. Dense, looming and decaying were its minions, blocking out the daytimes caress. By and by we became accustomed to the degradation.
My heart wilted, wanting the suns embrace.
Snapping her quilt in the crisp, bleary morning, Lady Angelica sank down upon the garden lawn. “Like effervescent dandelions new manors abound,” she said, lovingly. “Even now our liberator presses her tender face amongst these savage weeds, awaiting the sirens lullaby.” She lay before me. Her hair, a flourishing flame, radiated upon the clover.
Miniscule was my understanding.
My lovely lady pinched the venerable shoots of newly green life that sprouted their way from Mother Earth’s rich cradle. She did so quickly, lest their bantam eye seek refuge to bask in the putrefying light that might rescue them from ill-fate. For a full turning of the moon she harvested the nurslings, chanting and singing, and singing and chanting. Into a crystalline vessel she placed their severed limbs to luxuriate under the rays of the voluptuous night disk.
And so it was, when the orb of night began her retreat, a certain lass set upon her visits to Lady Angelica’s garden.
So exquisite was she, so fair, that my spectral arms desired nothing more than to touch her innocence. The sun lit her hair like dancing wheat stalks, swirling in his warm glory. Her skin, pallor blood of Milk Thistle flounced delicately with roseate hues.
Amongst the intoxicating vestiges, Lady Angelica indulged in the lass’s bubbling laughter, ne’er faltering in her attentions toward me, her beloved.
On the eve of the wanton deed, twilight spattered flaxen flecks upon my lady’s brow. “So dainty and pure she is. Perfection in flesh sent to house the supple essence of my darling one.” With a sigh, she stroked my quivering sepal. “Blessed by the sorcery I have sown. Renewal we shall reap.”
Diminutive was my discernment.
My eyes fluttered closed to the night—the last night of my terrestrial bondage.
Daybreak sparked its ravishing beams upon me. I relished in the wondrous warmth wrapping its arms about my form. An eternity, it seemed, I had spent in glories absence. The day appeared brighter than that of recent memory.
Lulling was the tune hummed by the sweet, young maiden, as she set about preparing an elaborate picnic feast for herself and Lady Angelica.
And I was happy, filled to overflowing with joy, at observing this most ordinary of acts.
Beauteous was my lady fair, balancing the crystal bowl in her supple hands. Within the trappings of the banquet she placed the pearlescent libation.
At grand length my lady and the lass chatted and laughed. If I could have, I would have adored joining in.
“How magnificent are the succulent perfumes in your garden,” the girl said, wistfully. “Did you plant them all by your own hand?”
“Indeed. I am most pleased by your approval.” Lady Angelica dipped a silver ladle into the bowl of lunar-bathed crystal, depositing its liquid into small, glass goblets. “Let us toast to their simple beauty.”
The girl sipped from her cup, a sweet smile lighting her cherubic face.
A glint flashed in Lady Angelica’s eyes, something unfamiliar yet familiar all the same. Tied as I was, bonded in a proliferation of densely tangled vines, I could do naught but observe time unfurling, cruel and strange, before me.
“Come,” Lady Angelica stood, offering her hand to the lass. “I shall guide your course about the thicket.”
The maiden folded her dainty fingers into that of my lady’s, eager to embark upon the excursion.
Clinging to my prison wall, I watched with baited fascination. Thorns of infinite dread pierced the thin skin of my stem. Still, I could not peel my curiosity away. Even as I noticed the subtle curl of virility, passing into my lady from the maidens grasp, my eye lingered.
From the farthest hedges they journeyed closer.
With every defined step recollection prodded me.
Bouncing honey curls. Sugary giggles. The girl drew ever nearer.
Lady Angelica held my shivering, scarlet bloom in her palm. “My most treasured of flowers,” she said to the girl. “You may draw upon her splendid scent. For if you breathe deeply enough from her aroma all your worries and cares will waft away.”
The girl looked upon Lady Angelica’s face with wonder in her large sage eyes. I know what she saw there: Trust. “Oh. May I?” Her bow shaped lips opened in a tiny O.
It is in that profound moment that I remembered: I had been a young girl about her age, gazing upon this very wondrous woman, who had offered me a taste of rose flavored candy, set to be devoured in this ease of manner.
The lass moved in close, licking her lips as though she could taste my delectable scent, already. Slowly, with her neck bent, her eyes closed, her tiny nose was suddenly buried into my velvet petals.
With everything in me, I attempted a warning.
I called out with a silent voice. Twisting and turning my numbed vines and tendrils to force from my skirts her precious face.
And then—I felt it—the dreaded pull on my soul.
Dreamily, she lured me into her, plucking my life from the branches of tethered rose-vines.
With each befuddled breath, I became her, and she became me.
Relinquishing, I could do naught to halt the trade.
My new lungs expanded, brimming with the heady aroma of roses. My new arms unfurled with possibilities in this: a stolen life.
Lady Angelica laid her hand upon my untouched shoulder. I felt her trembling, but I was too numbed by shame to raise my gaze.
Buried within the silken petals of the pristine pink bud, caught in my transfixed vision, was the innocent soul of the fair lass. Stolen was she, as I was many moons ago, when the world was a different place. Cursed by her simplicity, she had become that which is truly simple. And I had become her.
Star-crossed companions trapped beneath the crepuscular night. I longed for love and life and freedom.
A freedom I knew might be realized through cessation of my lady’s breath.
The Earthshine Series