Bianca slowly pushed open the cottage door as I went over to check out the garden I’d promised my moms’ I’d tend to while staying in their cottage. “Ah, Pele?” She called out. “Are you sure we have the right cottage?”
“Huh, let me check…” I eyed the colorful array of brown dead or dying flowers alongside the cottage. “A dying garden I have to perform necromancy on to save? Check. This is definitely my moms’ cottage. Mother once killed a two hundred year old maple tree just by touching it.”
“Wasn’t it struck by lightning?”
“Yeah, but we’re all pretty sure she caused the lightning. Anyway, why were you asking?”
“Oh nothing.” Bianca walked inside with her golden retriever, Poodles, at her heel. “It’s just already occupied.”
“What?” I dashed over to the front door. “By who?!”
Pointing to a child’s corpse on the ground, she said, “That dead person.”
“What?”I jumped back into the safety of the dark, and mysterious surrounding forest that I knew nothing about. “Frick frackin’ fudge, that’s a dead child!”
With wide eyes I stared at the child’s body with a vine of poison ivy that wrapped itself around his ankle and trailed all the way out an open window and into the forest. Random flowers grew from his head like his skull was soil. I covered my mouth with my hands. “How long has he been there? Plants are growing on him.”
She whistled at the sight of it all. “Well, I need to call my therapist.”
“You have a therapist?”
“I’m gay and have homophobic parents who don’t know I’m gay. Of course, I have a therapist.” Bianca pulled out her phone as Poodles trotted up to the child. Without second thought, she licked his cheek. “Poodles, no! We do not eat dead children! You don’t know where he's been.”
“That’s so gross.” I gagged and almost threw up in the bushes.
Kneeling down beside him, Bianca pulled Poodles away from the body. Upon further examination, Bianca said, “He doesn’t seem to have been dead for very long.”
“What makes you say that?”
The boy sat up.
“Because, he’s still alive,” Bianca answered.
“Sweet sugar packets!” I jumped up a foot and hit a tree branch. “Ouch.”
As I rubbed my head, I asked, “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I just did.”
I glared at her, then made my way back over. Squatting beside him, I asked, “What’s your name, kiddo?”
He paused for a second, giving me a blank stare like a goat’s. I gulped. “Silvanus,” he finally answered.
“So kid,” Bianca said—skipping over the unusual name, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m—“ A growl from his stomach cut him off.
I took Bianca aside. “Look, why don’t you make lunch for everyone while I fix up the garden?”
“One of the few benefits about being gay is no accidental kids. So how did I get stuck with one?”
“Just do it. I’m the one who’s gonna revive the garden from hell. Speaking of which of which, did you happen to bring along any books of necromancy?”
“Nah, I left all my magical books at home..” Bianca said, sarcastically.
I rolled my eyes. “I’ll check Mama’s old nightstand. She might have left something here.”
Bianca gave me a confused look. “Which one of your moms’ is Mama again? I always get confused.”
“Okay, so Mother is the one who kills any plant she touches. Mom is the one who can’t cook to save her life. And Mama is the one who sings folksy songs and is convinced the raspberry bush in our backyard is a fae in disguise.”
“I’ve seen that bush. It keeps moving places. She’s definitely onto something.”
I kissed my girlfriend on the cheek and laughed. “Ha. Next thing you’ll say is that this kid is a god or something.”
Mama’s nightstand was a mess to say the least. Books stuffed with bookmarks and random scraps of paper littered the top of it. Inside, there were some… *shiver* unspeakable and… um… lacy items. I picked the dirty cherry pink lingerie up using two pencils as chopsticks and flung it into the closet. With a swift kick, I sealed it away forever. For good measure, I borrowed some salt from Bianca and sprinkled it at the door. There. I’m safe now. Now, what do we have for books…
I couldn’t find a book on necromancy, but I did find something interesting. Walking out of my moms’ bedroom, I called out, “Hey Silvanus, did you know you were named after the Roman god of woods and uncultivated land?” I held up a book titled Mythology: The Story of Who Couldn’t Keep It In Their Pants. “You know, I’m named after the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire. I guess that’s just something we have in common.”
Silvanus gave me a blank look and Bianca pulled me aside in the kitchen. She lowered her words so Silvanus couldn't hear it over the sizzling of fried chicken. “Ah, what are you doing?”
“I’m trying to bond with him, so he won’t be so scared being alone in the woods with two random girls.”
We both turned back and looked at Silvanus staring at the sizzling fried chicken with drooling rolling down his chin.
“Yeah, he looks terrified,” she said sarcastically. “Just leave the kid to me and go worry about the garden. I want your moms to like me and fixing their garden will help that.”
I pouted. “You’re not even the one fixing it.”
“No… but I am the one keeping a strange kid busy so you—the only one of us with garden knowledge—can.”
“Fine.” I glanced at the open window with Silvanus’ weird vine sticking out of it. “Just remember to close the windows. I don’t want the smell of food to attract any bears.”
“Consider it done.”
I never thought I’d been in a situation worse than dealing with Mama’s dirty lingerie.
I was wrong.
Kneeling next to the garden, I could feel the need of a tetanus shot rising up in my veins. In the past ten minutes, I have pulled out at least two pounds of random trash and pieces of rusted metal.
I plastered a fake smile on my face. Keeping my chin up, I refused to hate what I was doing; if I started hating it, I’d dread it. Why dread something when you can just lie to yourself instead. Afterall, not all of this trash looked unsanitary. The rain had washed some of it pretty well. I could recycle and make something out of it—like a pair of boots or something.
“What are you doing?’ Silvanus popped up behind me, startling me.
“Oh, I’m trying to fix this garden. It’s kinda dead right now.”
He stared at the pile of trash I picked up. “And what about all this litter?”
“I’m gonna recycle it.” I wagged a nagging finger at him. ”You should always recycle, Silvanus.”
Sweet sugar packets, when did I become this kid’s mom?
“And what about the plants? How are you going to fix them?”
He gently touched a dead sunflower and five petals fluttered to the ground. I winced. “A lot of fertilizer.”
“Fertilizer?” He echoed. “But why would you need that when they can be nourished by your love?”
Silvanus reached out towards a pair of yellow cosmos, but this time instead of flopping to the ground, their stems grew green and they straightened up like a dad stretching his back after sleeping on the couch his wife banished him to. He waved his hands towards the other dead plants and one by one they perked up. You’d swear someone was watering this garden with caffeine the way it hummed with new energy.
My mouth dropped open. “Haha…” Beads of sweat broke free above my eyebrows. “Cool trick, kiddo. If you excuse me for a minute, I need to talk to Bianca about lunch. Haha...”
I took a few steps away from Silvanus and started angry-whispering for Bianca. “Bianca. Bianca.”
She popped her head out the open window. “You rang?”
“Didn’t I tell you to close that window?”
“I tried but…” She swung the window to close it, but the vine attached to Silvanus stopped it. Now, it was looping from the forest, into the window, then back out the front door to the garden where Silvanus was. “This vine is in the way.”
“Then cut it.”
“I was gonna, but when I started cutting it, Silvanus came up to me all angry and—“
“Silvanus!” I snapped my fingers three times. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. We were just in the garden and—“
A deep bellowing from the woods cut me off. “Is that what I think it was…?” I asked.
A seven foot tall black bear lumbered in from the forest. He stood on his hind legs and sniffed the air for our lunch. Oh frick frackin’ fudge.
I scurried towards the window. From inside, Poodles yapped at the bear like her two foot tall butt was really going to scare off this fudgin’ monster of an animal.
I tried to claw my way instead, but it was a little too tall for me. Reaching my arms over the windowsill, I tried to swing my body inside, only to get caught in an awkward half-in, half-out pose with my right calf safely inside, but my left leg dangled outside. “Bianca, help me in!”
She grabbed onto my waist and hoisted me up. “What about Silvanus?”
“Sweet sugar packets!” I twisted around to see him, nearly falling if Bianca wasn’t holding me. “He’s gonna get mauled…” I stopped talking because I was clearly wrong. Again.
Casually standing next to the bear, Silvanus appeared to almost be talking to it like they were old college colleagues. I blinked three times in disbelief. No, I think he was talking to the bear. Just chatting him up over there. Is this an effect of the tetanus????
And then???? The bear bent back over onto his paws and Silvanus???? Climbed up onto him???
Together, they rode back towards the forest. As they were about to cross over into it, they stopped. Silvanus turned back to us. “Thank you for the meal…” Bianca and I swiveled to look at the fried chicken, but it was gone. “And for cleaning up this forest’s trash. I bless you.”
And just like that, they disappeared into the forest.
“You know, he magically healed the garden too,” I said.
“I think we just met a god.”
“Man, that’s wild.”