Part of Flash Fiction February 2023, prompt was “Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye”.
Yasmin was proud of the small garden she had cultivated over more years than she cared to remember. It was perfectly square, enclosed with a stone wall just the right side of tumbledown to be charming. A productive vegetable garden occupied one corner, teeming with tomatoes, leeks, kale, and herbs she vaguely remembered. Another corner she called her “wild area”. She let whatever wanted to grow there wend its way as long as it never imposed on any other area. The third corner was full of colour. She filled it with plants that had flowers of the rainbow. It brought her joy to sit outside on warm evenings and compose paintings from the floral palette it presented to her.
The final corner disturbed her. In the first few years, she had tried to grow all sorts of plants there, but they just withered and died, stuck in a seemingly permanent web of shadows that had a life of their own. Whenever she wandered into that corner of the garden, she didn’t feel threatened, just uncomfortable. Whatever influenced there meant her no ill will, but would prefer it if she wasn’t there. They filled her body with a chill, and over time she learned to just leave that corner to its own devices. Even on beautiful warm summer nights when the rest of the garden was full of so much life, colour, and positivity, that corner was full of shadows that pulsated and shifted with an unknown agenda.
She saw shapes that looked like figures of creatures swirling around with purpose. Unknown shapes intertwined with them, writhing and twisting in a darkened dance.
They never moved from the corner, never expanded their claim on the garden, and she was happy with everything else she had, so Yasmin and the shadows arrived at an unstated stalemate.
When friends visited and admired her garden, they often asked what was wrong with that corner. She would brush them away with spontaneous excuses such as gas leaks, clay in the soil, poisoned earth, or “the wrong kind of light”. But in truth, she had no idea what was wrong, and with her excuses breaking down on further interrogation, she would swiftly change the subject, diverting their attention to a plump vegetable or pretty flower.
She had tried experienced gardeners, part-time geoscientists, and even priests. None of them had any idea what was wrong or had any solutions. One of the gardeners, an esoteric sort, suggested a friend who was obsessed with the occult, but Yasmin dismissed that wild idea. She was sure there was a sensible answer to the mystery of the fourth corner of her garden, but for now, she would just enjoy what she had. She turned her back to the lingering shadows behind her and stopped to smell the roses, inhaling the sweet scent with delight.