The Gardner’s Son

This is a “story about what’s on the other side of that door….”

There is a new lock on my door again.  It is my door, yes, as I’m the one inside and the one who keeps removing the locks every third day or week or month or so, whenever a new one appears.  I hide them, tuck them away, attach them to a chain, actually, that is hanging from the rafters in the hidden recesses of the loft, back where the roots from the ancient roof-top garden have pushed through the wood and seek the ground that isn’t there, back where the water from the soaking rain drips in blackened drops of soot and earth and anguished souls.  Light hits them sometimes, the locks…at certain hours of the day and in the middle of the night, too, as the full moon shines through the crumbling mortar cracks in the wall.  Their absence causes minds to wonder and worry, quickens steps from my doorposts and into the hedges and beyond, out into the gardens beneath the palms and evergreens, among the rolling hills and moss-covered stone-work walls where I used to play with…where I used to play.

I don’t receive many visitors here, just the feeble-minded grandmother of the Earl who claims to hear footsteps in the straw.  It must be my rasping breath or the whispering echoes of my fading heartbeat that she hears, for I dare not move when she’s near.  Years ago, I rattled a can to scare her away, but that only brought more visitors in the form of the Earl and his wife…and the magistrate, too.  They conferred, as wise ones will, and sought the company of the parish priest.  He sat and wondered and mumbled against the aging bricks beneath the post…and he thought he heard a nothing that was really something as it brushed against his shin.  It’s nothing, said the friar to the Earl, nothing but the wind and a…maybe…..  Yes…like that, it’s nothing.  The Earl and his wife remained distressed and the grandmother remained convinced that it was footsteps in the straw.  They sought those above, as those above will do, they sought those above the parish priest and then the bishop after that.  I touched the friar’s robe, when they visited, and scoffed at the bishop’s crown as they offered their hollow words to the Miasma that faded into the ether at Galileo’s waking.

Children know I’m here, of course, as children will know such things…as children will know such things and remain away, and remain away or seek me out on the darkest nights with torches out against the shadows and webs of fright that hang in the corners.  They know without knowing sometimes and feel my breath upon their cheeks as I whisper and tell them to go, to leave, and to leave me alone.  I don’t want to hurt or scare them, but I want them gone.  I don’t want their light tread upon the straw to remind me of other little ones who used to do so before the blazing night…I want them to be away and away.

It was a frosted night and achingly cold with a withering moon when red flames licked the slow-moving clouds.  I stood there shivering, only steps away from the oven of my misdeeds, away from the murderer’s weapon that it became within quick seconds of rage and regret in the spilled and boiling blood of those hidden away unknown.  Nigh unto three centuries hence, I still hear their short and tiny cries, the hairs on my neck and arms rise with only a thought.  So I hide here and away, a stone’s throw from the still standing crematory of an ancient and vine-covered castle.  It is a crypt and a memorial, a living nightmare of anguish that still smolders on an icy night as little bones crumble into the dust of time and away, forgotten and missed in grief, they are embers in my eyes and scalding irons on my heart…for I never confessed what I knew.  It wasn’t the laundress who caused the blaze…it was me, the gardener’s son.

***Photo used with permission by John M. Smith at Life, Photography & Other Mistakes.  The photograph was taken at Castle Kennedy & Gardens in Dumfries, Scotland.  Please visit John’s blog to share in his beautiful photography…and the website for Castle Kennedy & Gardens to learn more about their true history.

26 responses

  1. Those who practice evil always pay a far higher price than those who have had evil done to them.

    July 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

    • I hope that’s true, Allen….

      July 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      • I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that’s the message I got from your story. It’s a good message, I think.

        July 16, 2012 at 3:40 am

        • I thank you for that, Allen. 🙂

          July 16, 2012 at 7:05 am

  2. t.i.n.a.

    Great gem of a story!

    July 15, 2012 at 7:50 am

    • Thank you, Tina…I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  3. Wow

    July 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

    • Thank you, CJ. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  4. The burden of his guilt……Powerful Scott

    July 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

    • Hard to rest peacefully like that…thank you, Madhu.

      July 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  5. I almost thought it looks like our own village houses, and I found it is Scotland!
    Thanks for introducing this fascinating blog.

    July 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

    • You are very welcome, Pattu…it is a wonderful place to visit. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

  6. Excellent story Scott!

    July 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    • Thank you, Chillbrook. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

  7. The picture really adds to the dark atmosphere of this essay. Almost too dark for this bright, sunny day… not exactly something that might come from an incurable romantic, I would think.

    I like your method of introducing other blogs. A sample photo instead of an award.

    July 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    • The picture is what led me there, Gunta…that and reading about the castle and gardens. And yes, it is a bit dark…and even romantics can have a bit of darkness to them, can’t they? 🙂

      I love John’s work, so it seemed more fitting to share his site than to just give him the photo credit.

      Thank you for being here, Miss Gunta. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      • I totally like the whole package. Even the darker shade of romanticism… but especially the way you presented the photo along with a link to John’s site. Very nicely done indeed!

        July 16, 2012 at 12:59 am

        • Thank you, Gunta…it was a collaborative effort…John even posted the story on a “writings” tab he has incorporated into his blog. I like your words…thank you again. 🙂

          July 16, 2012 at 7:04 am

  8. Great story, Scott.

    July 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    • Thank you, George…I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      • You should join the flash fiction group who post every Friday. You’d enjoy it and be good at it too! Rich and Lady Marilyn Kay Dennis and Bloomie Bol and a lot of folks participate.

        July 15, 2012 at 10:08 pm

        • I will look into that, George…thank you. 🙂

          July 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

  9. Creatively written.

    July 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    • Thank you, Lilly. 🙂

      July 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm

  10. Scott, what a haunting image you have created. It will remain with me for a long time to come. Thank you also for introducing me to the work of John Smith. It has been some time since I have been so inspired.

    July 21, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    • Such nice words, Gary…thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my little story…and you’re most welcome for the intro to John…he’s a wonderful photographer…and truly inspiring. Thank you again, my friend. 🙂

      July 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm

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