18 (Horizon Lines) Madame Green

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                I have no talent for keeping my distance, for truly avoidance is an art form unto itself.  Lacking this essential skill and the excuse of the school year having run its course I found refuge in the Witch’s Garden.  Alisa didn’t want me around, it was as if that night had flipped the whole world on its head, because now if I was in a quarter mile of her she couldn’t help but notice me.  Whatever feelings, pretend or real, that she had suddenly developed towards me were not to be superseded by the current man of the hour, Dean… it was strange to suddenly need to avoid them not for my sake but hers.  It’s what she wanted and since whatever idea of me she had fabricated in her head to fall for me in the first place was probably far better than anything I could measure up to in reality.  I was determined to abide that request.  After all absence makes the heart grow fonder.

                The Witch’s Garden… she wasn’t really a witch, but her other nick names aren’t any nicer.  Do you know the typical middle aged over friendly Gardner that raised beds of weeds?  Well the Witch would have happily raised poisonous bamboo if such a thing even exists and wanted nothing more than for people to wander through her little mossy green wonderland.  However if you looked at the Witch she scowled and cursed, if you knocked on her door she hollered death threats at the top of her lungs.  Now I don’t mind death threats, so long as they are good natured ones, the Witch never yelled a laughable threat in her life.  She might never carry through with her threats but in a chilling sort of way it always seemed like she meant them whole heartedly.  You might have guessed that not many people took to her garden knowing that they might accidentally look her way and get a scary talking to.  Plus of the four oak trees half of them were poisonous.  I was fortunate to have learned which of the trees weren’t of the rash making sort and had long since discovered staring at me feet was an excellent way to avoid the Witch’s gaze.

                I could have stayed at home, but I wasn’t much of one to stay bottled up in such a small space for long.  I didn’t want to mope or feel down.  The garden was nice enough, cool and soft the thick damp moss made a surprisingly good bed.  Nap, wander, nap, wander, climb an oak and watch the clouds drift by.  It wasn’t terrible; there was just enough variation to slip in and out of modes without realizing you’d done it.  Time was the carefree drift of clouds; peace was a fat bee bending a flower to the dirt with its subtle weight.  Nothing was good, nothing was bad, it just was and that was fine.  The first few days of summer rolled by as if they had never happened, my emotions had finally stopped running high for a spell, I was able to be calm inside and out, maybe even civil which is saying a lot because I like to draw the line before I hit civilized behavior.

                I already felt as if I had been waiting most of my life for Alisa, what was another summer compared to that.  Besides four years was still a big gap at our age she’d grow apart from Dean soon enough.  In a couple years he’d graduate high school, his whole world would change, which would change everything else, but even before that there was plenty of opportunity for a shift in the wind.  I was taking the summer off and respecting Alisa’s wishes, nothing could go wrong because she was already with Dean, it’s not like things could get worse on my end.  Stretch, relax, wander…  No caves, no Ray, no unreachable dreams, just me the sky and seven coats of red green.  I might have spent the whole summer in this lost world of patient contentment but after the first week or so of summer a reedy voice interrupted me, “You like the garden?”

                It was the Witch, I instinctively began tying and untying my shoelaces with my eyes, “everyone likes the garden”

                “It’s polite to look at someone when you talk to them and the same goes for when there talking at you”

                “Sorry but I can’t do that, it wouldn’t be right”

                “Why’s that?”

                “You don’t like it when people look at you”

                “Hrmmmm over observant prick”

                “It’s true isn’t it?”

                “Most of the time I suppose, but I’ll make an exception for you this once.” I lifted my head, “That’s better.  Now why do you like my garden?”

                “Everyone likes the garden”

                “Do you see anyone else here boy, besides you and me that is, no one but you and me like it enough to come today, same goes for yesterday and the day before.  You’re not hiding from something are you?”

                “I may run like a coward, but I don’t hide like one!” 

                “Oh is that so.  Well why are you here then?”

                “Why are you even talking to me?”

                “Maybe I see a little of myself in you, a long time ago when I was your age and your every bit as bull headed as that girl I’d wager”

                “But you don’t like talking to people”

                “Who said that?”

                “I did, just now”

                “Well I think It's my say wither I like talking to people or not, don’t you reckon”

                “Maybe, some people work a little differently on the inside though”

                “What are you getting at boy?”

                “Some people live on the outside and some people live on the inside”

                “Hmmm, true enough I suppose, so which are you?”

                “Inside I guess, maybe outside… it would depend on what we were talking about”

                “Trouble with your friends then?”

                “What… oh yeah you could call it that if you wanted to”

                “Leave ‘em then, you can find new friends”

                “They’re not those kinds of friends”

                “How so?”

                “I’m a part of them; it would be like leaving myself behind”

                “So you need to learn to live with them then”

                “Or maybe they need to learn to live with me”

                “That’s nonsense; if everyone wants everyone else to do their learning for them then no one learns anything.  The only persons learning you need to worry about is your own.”

                “I’ve never looked at it that way”

                “And now that you have what do you think”

                “I think you seem awfully interested in my learning”

                “Well your just a little brat aren’t you, can’t find a smidgen of gratitude when I learn you something”

                “Where’d you ever learn it to begin with?” she winked slyly

                “Wood sprites, they learn me things”

                “Don’t so”, I said adapting more strongly to her strange use of language.  Everyone had their own words if you knew how to listen for it, but hers were thick, I liked them.  She didn’t seem too happy about it though

                “You being smart with me”

                “No ma’am”

                “You best not be”

                “Wouldn’t even dream it”

                “Sharp little cuss like you would to dream it”

                “Only at church though, you wouldn’t hurt a body at church would you”

                “Scat boy, out of my garden”

                “See you tomorrow then”

                “Won’t so”, but it was so, the next few days we would do a lot of talking.  I learned a lot from the Witch and she might have learned a thing or two from me in return.  That however, is another story entirely so I will add only this to the matter.  I was afraid of ending up like her, so far-gone that I’d replaced people with something else like she had with her garden.  She wasn’t old enough to drift away yet, her life was only half over.  Part of her knew that, which is why she talked to me in the first place, far as I know she hasn’t done the like for someone else fore or since our little talks.  During that summer I stopped thinking of her as the Witch and started calling her Madame Green; to this day I am the only one that calls her that.  She was like a second mother, except she was a little easier to talk to.  Remembering it all, I wish I had spent far more time with her, but I had a bad habit of getting caught up in strange little details of life and letting them sweep me away.

Created: Apr 06, 2014

Tags: horizon, lines, horizon lines, fiction, sci-fi, science fiction, romance, indy adventure, madame green, 18, story, apocalypse themed

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