The Garden

By Maya Petzoldt, TIWP Student

“Why do you have a secret compartment underneath your bed?”
“Why do I have a what?”
Sophia looked up from her place on my bed to stare at me. She quickly sat straight up when she noticed that I was holding her mattress up and staring down at the empty space below it. I only looked at her when she kneeled by my side, to stare into the space below bed just as incredulously as I was. I raised my eyebrow at her, but she only shook her head and continued to stare into the abyss.
“Is it a storage space?”
“What?”
She pointed to the drawers hidden in the shadows, and I slowly reached for them. I gave the top handle a sharp tug, and it opened with the loudest creaking sound I had ever heard. Inside was …. Nothing.
“Try the next one.”
I complied, empty yet again. This time Sophia hanked open the third drawer, and it was not empty. Inside there was a small red book, with a golden trim. Sophia picked it up, and ran her hands over the fleur-de-lis. I propped my chin on her shoulder.
“Open it.”
She nodded slightly, barley, her eyes still locked on the cover as if in a trance. She slowly peeled the cover pack, and placed her hand on the first page. Blank. I watch as her eyes grow wide, as mine would as well. What a waste of anticipation if you ask me. She rapidly begins to skim through the pages, all blank. I lift myself off her, and sigh.
“Well, I needed another notebook anyway-”
“What do you mean?”
I look at her with a similar incredulous look on her face.
“A new notebook, Sophia, to jot stuff down in. The previous owner clearly didn’t use it up, so maybe I could?”
I trail off as her eyes go glassy, not with sadness, but with …. Fear. I put my hand on her shoulder, and she began to shake slightly, staring at the pages with disbelief.
“Hey, Sophia, are you okay-”
We both look through the window as a loud barking rings through the quiet night air- wait is it daytime? But- I look over to the digital clock on our dresser, 3;00 AM. That time neither matches the one I saw when I found the secret compartment nor where the sun currently seems to be.
“Where’s the clock?”
I look at Sophia, very confused.
“What do you mean-”
“The analog one, not the digital.”
Sure enough, when I look above the doorway our red clock is nowhere to be seen.
“What the hell-”
Before I can finish my sentence Sophia is running down the stairs. I pause in following her, and look out the window for a second. Nothing out of the ordinary, per se, except that there’s no dog. I mean, we don’t have a dog, but we heard one, and- There’s a sudden ringing the doorbell.
I rush down the stairs, taking them two at a time, and jumping the tembeling Sophia who was sitting at the bottom, to reach the front door. I can see the silhouette of someone standing outside, with a massive dog by their side. As I put my hand on the ornate handle to open it, I freeze, literally. The metal handle is incredibly cold, but it’s summer isn’t it? That’s why Sophia was able to come back from boarding school and I was able to take the night off from- I hastily opened the door, wanting more answers instead of questions.
“Who are-”
“Well hello my dear, could you let us in please, it’s a little cold to have a conversation in the doorway!”
I’m immediately covered in chills, not from the well dressed man holding a leash to an honestly tiny dog in our doorway, but from the sudden gust of cold wind and snow blowing into the house. I numbly let the man walk by me and hang his jacket on our coat hanger, and I barely move as he closes the door for me. His dog, a tiny, grey, fuzzy, little thing, immediately runs up to Sophia and starts to yip at her. She leans back and adjusts her glasses, a nervous habit of hers I note.
“Well then my dears, would you mind if- ah- I did something rather unusual?”
Sophia looked up frantically, but I had just finally turned around to stare at the man dead in the eyes. He looks quite young honestly, practically my age if not a few older. I mean, he has to be, to own that sort of suit. I notice that his white suit looks pristine, and his shoes sparkling. Odd for someone who, supposedly, just walked through snow.
“Answer my questions first, who are you?”
He smiles, as if delighted, and I worry, because I don’t have the faintest idea why.
“My name is Samuel Peterson, but you already knew that, didn’t you my dear?”
He turned to Sophia and helped her stand. I noticed how she nervously accepted his hand.
“Yes Professor Peterson, but I was unaware you had a habit of visiting students during summer break?”
Wait, so this man was one of Sophia’s teachers? Then why was he here-
“Well you did find my journal my dear, and I have been looking for it for ages. Lucky that sister of yours found it, or I worry I might have been forever lost.”
He takes the book from Sophia’s hands, rather harshly in my opinion, and turns to me. He whips off his outer suit jacket, I notice he has a red vest underneath, and lays it over the back of a chair. I placed his hand on the small of my back, and began to lead me through the house, his dog following.
“Speaking of my dear, Mikayla Ellis, what wondrous things I’ve heard about you. Your shining work ethic, your bursting curiosity, and of course, your fantastic gardening skills. If you don’t mind me I would love to see this garden Ms. Sophia speaks so highly of.”
Before I can either point him in the direction of the garden or the way out, we arrive and the sliding glass doors to the garden. The garden I started two months ago. While Sophia was away in school. The one I surprised her with when she got here. The one I didn’t write to her about. So how did he-
“Ah, I see the rumours are so very well deserved, you are an excellent gardener my dear.”
He leads me into the garden, and I am too awestruck to oppose. The daffodils I planted are gone, so are the chrysanthemums and popeye daisies, and the buttercups and bluebells. Now there are dahlias, roses, and lilies, and a whole lot of nettle. He leads me to a stone bench, which I don’t remember buying, under a grape vine arch, which I don’t remember planting, in front of a stone bird bath, which I don’t remember filling.
He sits beside me and grasos my hand tightly in one of his, and flips open his red journal. Before he can begin to speak, the sliding glass door is thrown open- when did it close- and Sophia appears, breathing heavily.
“Mikayla, please don’t-”
Before she can finish her sentence she barks back into the house- why is she so scared of such a tiny dog?
“Ms. Sophia, you know it is rude to interrupt, I thought I had taught you better than this. Now, Ms. Mikayla, could you kindly read my journal with me?”
“What?”
But when I look into the once blank journal, yes once, I find the page covered in inky black designs, all sort of, demonic? What is this? I look over into his eyes, hoping to question him, only to find his eyes a striking shade of red- a shade that unnerves me to my core.
“You know Mikayla Ellis, I find the human understanding of the supernatural world quite ironic. Everyone believes that demons are summoned, and witches have familiars, even when it’s literally the opposite! Yes witches are powerful and have a unique magic that no one can seem to recreate, but that magic is not strong enough to bind another’s life to them. A demon on the other hand, well that is certainly much easier.
“At least, for me it is. The change time, to command the weather, to order around my familiar, to change shape! How could a witch possibly top that with meager spells they had to learn from a book, and potions they have to slave over for hours. You see Mikayla, I was born with magic from the start, the perk of my species I suppose, and I binded my familiar to me with magic I could imbue without the need for useless words or books.”
He smiled at me, earierly, and I didn’t notice when the small puppy became a great dane, or when the red band appeared around my wrist. He held my hand tighter, and stared deep into my eyes.
“But you humans did get one thing right-”
I start to feel a little light headed, though not of shock or my own accord, but seemingly of his.
“My dear, it’s the witching hour.”

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