All posts by Abbie

The Gardener

Julia sat in the park on the same bench every day. She liked to come here and watch people walking through, or having their outside lunch, to take her mind of her own loneliness. She knew some of them now. The young girl with the rosy face who blushed every time a lad smiled at her. The old man who brought a bag of crumbs for the birds and who would sit talking to them, and any one who passed, until the bag was empty, when he would pull himself back up to painfully hobble home again.

The middle aged couple who worked together and who brought the work out with them, sitting at a table, ignoring everyone, pens scribbling, holding down papers with coffee cups from the local Costa’s. occasionally they would ask each other something and then would bow heads again to scribble faster.

Dogs would run up to Julia, sniffing to see if she had something to eat or just to say hi. She would smile sadly and ruffle their hair, remembering Max, heart still contracting with the sorrow of his loss. Sometimes the owners would stop and chat a while but usually they just called the dog who would trot off to another new sniff.

Occasionally people sat next to her and she would lower her head into a book she never actually read. She just wanted to watch and be with people but not to talk, not to get involved.

She was lonely she supposed. All her friends had drifted off years ago, besides she had moved too many times to make many. She had married the wrong man, dated the wrong men and made a lot of bad decisions in her life. She had loved many people but none had loved her enough to stay around if things got tough. From her parents with their own issues, having her just so they could marry young and then regretting it from the moment she arrived to the guy who had gone out for chips and just never came back……

Oh her Father had taken an interest when she was a young teen but it was best not to think about those dark days. She did think perhaps that it had been that which led her meeting the wrong kind of guy but all that was in the past now. Now she had given up, living alone in a bedsit, no children, no animals to die and leave her, no love to lose. She had done every thing wrong. If she was ever honest with herself, which was rare, she was So damn lonely.

She had thought about having her own child.

She loved children, always had. Once, as a small girl, she had told a teacher that she was going to have 6 ‘or more!’ but life had got in the way. She had even thought about being a single Mum but she had always looked too deeply at the men she had met and not wanted a child to have a part of them. The only man she had ever loved had been her Grandfather and even he had beaten her. Not having children, a girl to give all the love she had been denied, was the one thing in life she regretted above all others but her dogs had seen her through. Max had been special, intelligent gentle Alsatian who had been her constant companion since he was 6 weeks old, but even he had left now, died younger than he should have of a heart problem, and she was unsure if she would ever be able to bear another loss again. Besides, she was in her 50’s now and life was moving too fast to look after yet another life.

She sighed, tears welling in her eyes for the 10th time that day.

She realised someone had sat beside her. He was bent over a paper bag, rustling in it, looking for something. She glanced in his direction just as he looked up, glancing sideways at her, grinning a wide, happy, open smile.

She burrowed into her book again quickly.

Rustling the bag again he started humming a tune to himself, a nursery rhyme tune she remembered from her childhood. She smiled, transported back to happier times.

‘Excuse me’ he said

Placing the book beside her she turned to face him, half smiling.

‘Oh, there you are! At last! It is you, Emily!’ he started, his wrinkled face crinkling up like crepe paper. She had an uncontrollable urge to reach out to stroke it even through her shock over his knowing her real name.

‘How di….’ she began but he jumped up and beckoned her after him….

‘Come on’ he said. ‘I have something to show you quickly. Come on! Come on!’ he demanded as she sat there still, mouth agape.

Trotting off and not looking back, he almost tiptoed through two shrubs and headed towards the back of the park. Looking around, seeing the two pen pushers still scribbling, the young girl nibbling a sandwich with a fashion magazine spread out in front of her, Julia sighed and followed.

At first she could not see where he was but, standing still and listening, she could hear, along with the distant barking of playing dogs and the chatter of birds in nearby trees, a distant sound of a nursery song being sung.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.

Pushing through budding bushes Julia finally reached the old man who was standing in front of a empty, freshly dug flower bed.

‘Ah, there you are!’ he sang. ‘Julia Erica Patterson nee Emily Anne Jacobs!’

‘Ok’ said Julia. ‘How do you know me? Who are you?’

‘My name is Gardener’ grinned the man. ‘Just call me Gardener. I have known you all your life, I know why you changed your names, why you have tried to hide from yourself but….’ he continued, waving her protestations aside, ‘….that doesn’t matter now.’

He turned and picked some packets of seeds from his pockets, flapping them in her face. ‘These are yours!’

She took them from him and saw that there were no names on them. All the seed packets were plain green sachets, completely devoid of any writing apart from her name in old English script at the top, her real name Emily Anne Jacobs

Her knees felt weak, her face flushed. One of her mistakes had been so bad that she had changed her name to make sure he never found her again. How did this man know? Was she still safe? She turned to run away but he grabbed her arm, surprisingly tightly for such an old person.

‘These are for you’ he whispered in her ear. ‘You have to plant these. I have been looking for you a long time and you must plant these’

Julia’s knees gave way and she crumpled to the ground crying softly.

‘There, There lass’ mumbled the old man as he rummaged through his shabby old coat. he sighed happily as he found what he was after and handed her a rather earthy handkerchief. She took it without looking and blew her nose loudly.

‘Here!’ he said gently. ‘Tell you what, you choose and I will plant them for you’ He took back the packets of seeds.

‘and, what are these?’ he asked as he waved one packet and tore the top, sprinkling seeds into his hand.

‘Oh, erm…..’ she thought fast, nothing coming to her as she looked around for ideas. ‘How about Basil?’

She giggled sure now that she was finally having that breakdown people said she was due.

The man ignored her and spread his arm wide, sowing the seeds to the back of the bed. As they landed they sprouted roots which quickly buried themselves, green shoots appearing at the top, growing into small broad leaves. Basil leaves. Before long there was a line at the back of the bed of fresh young Basil bushes.

Julia sat and stared, mouth open again, eyes wide. She felt younger, lighter…… a strange uplifting to her mind.

She looked at the second packet the old man was waving at her.

‘I have always loved Iceberg Roses’ she said excitedly, ‘I want them to be roses! White roses!’

Gardener turned and threw the seeds across the bed and, as they fell, they took root, tendrils extending out as small tender stalks thrust up towards the sky, little thorns appearing, growing sharper as Julia and Gardener watched. Small buds appeared on the stems, white petals flowing open to become dainty white roses. A ladybird landed and lazily walked across a flower, stark red against the pure white.

Julia’s heart lifted. Her problems seemed so far away. This was pure magic. Beautiful magic. She had always loved magic but it had scared her somehow. Like men in masks had scared her. She could see them but their real meanings were hidden. This was real magic. Natural magic.

She realised Gardener was offering her the third sachet

Standing up she took it off him. Would it work for her too? ‘Angelica’ she said quietly. Ripping it open she dropped the seeds into her hand and sprinkled the seeds in a small space in front of her in the bed. She watched as the bush grew tall and strong, greenish white flowers opened and a horde of butterflies and bees appeared, humming quietly as they pollinated it.

Julia felt younger, more vibrant and, looking down saw her hands were unlined, the coarseness from years of work had gone, replaced with softness she had not seen for a very long time. She felt alive again and she pushed her hair back from her face, not thinking about the fact it was longer now than when she had walked into the park. Darker, bouncier.

‘Two more Emily’ said Gardener, his grin wider now and he was almost dancing where he stood.

She took the fourth packet and ripped it open shouting ‘THYME’ as she did so. She sowed the seeds widely, expecting to see the small tiny leaves of the thyme plant but, this time, something strange happened. As the tiny plant grew, she could make out small clock faces on each stem. She knelt next to one of the tiny herbs, scrunching up her eyes to make out what she was seeing. Miniscule little clock faces, each clock with hands ticking backwards. She looked up at Gardener, who winked back and who handed her the last green packet.

‘Make it count’ he said. ‘These were just practicing’

Julia thought for a moment and looked at him questioningly. He nodded, still smiling, eyes twinkling.

She slowly tore off the top and laying out the seeds reverently said, ‘Cornflour’

Gardener did dance now, legs kicking out as he twisted and turned, bopping to invisible music.

‘Cornflour!’ he sang, ‘Flower of Hope In Love’ He laughed out loud ‘She got it…. she got it!’

As the tendrils reached out to the earth they changed and grew along the top instead. As Julia watched a tiny body sprouted with perfectly formed little head, legs and arms. Teeny fingers grew and stretched out in the breeze, and perfectly formed wee blue eyes watched her steadily as she reached out to stroke the babies face.

She smiled gently and reached down to pick her up carefully. Without words, her heart singing loudly, she turned to Gardener.

He nodded and plucked some Thyme, The baby reached out and grabbed it in chubby fingers. Gardener watched for a moment and then, gently taking it from her, he tucked it into Julia’s coat pocket and patted it closed. Julia wrapped the coat around the tiny girl.

‘Come along Emily’ she sighed happily, ‘It is time to have the life you were meant to have my darling’

The young woman with her new baby walked out into the park.

I Can’t Wait

In a world of pain I cast my eyes around the room and struggle to stand. I can hear shouting still but I’m dazed and hurting so bad… Spitting blood into the floor as I try to rise.

The boot hits me again. This time it missed my head and almost gratefully I feel it chip something in my shoulder.

The female screams and the man’s voice raises again.

I shrink back into the carpet unable to move. I just want to sleep now and make it all go away.

The voices are joined by more. Shouting, bangs, and then soft murmurings around me.

Gentle hands softly touch me and I wince as they touch broken skin. I hear her voice and look up as best I can, trying to tell her I’m sorry.

She’s crying. I want to comfort her but the pain pulls me down. A scratch on my shoulder and sleep overcomes all.

She came to visit me today. She says she’ll be back tomorrow to take me to our new home. Being without her is hell, but I needed to recover. Her bruises have nearly gone now too and I can finally walk again.. Next time someone tries to hurt her they won’t get the better of me.

She hugged me today and told me I was the best dog in the world. I can’t wait to go home!


I see the Rising Fog

A bird startled her, screeching a warning as she stepped on a brittle twig, which scrunched under her foot.  She stepped backwards in alarm and brown leaves rustled as she disturbed them.  The bird flew off, wings humming against the silence.

She raised her ungloved hands and pulled on her collar, trying to cover her ears.  But it was too short.  She stuck her hands deep into her pockets which just dragged the coat further off her neck.  Sighing, she walked forwards to the edge of the hill path.

Looking out across the meadow beyond, she saw the mists, obscuring the grass and the tree bases.  She stood there for several minutes watching it rise, become more substantial.  Covering more of the field and the large mill beyond.  Soon people would not see what was underneath.  Soon it would be hidden and all that will be viewed will be grey white cloud.  Like memory, she thought.  After a while it is all you have and then, it fails you.  What’s his name?  Where are my keys?  What was the name of that book?  Who am I?  When you realised you were not remembering what you’d done that morning.  How did that happen?  Sometimes she remembered everything.  Suddenly births, deaths, her current situation in the hospice… Everything hit her at once and she cried out in disarray.  Pain filled her being and the faces flashed before her and faded.  Other faces then appeared.  Ones she didn’t know.  Furniture she did not know surrounded her.  Words spilled over her, around her, not touching her.

She shuddered as the cold permeated through the coat.  Her shoulders felt uncovered.  Her ears were now burning.   Her toes felt almost disjointed.  Her hands were warm, snug and safe in the woollen confines of her pockets…. She smiled as she looked down at her two dogs sitting beside her, confused as they disappeared when she put out her hands to stroke their silken ears.

She looked around panicking for a moment until it was forgotten again.  She looked back over the meadow

“I see the rising fog”, she whispered, and headed towards it

The Problem With Love

She ducked down behind the curtain as he looked up at her window.  The new neighbour.  The Adonis!  The most beautiful boy on earth!

Sitting on her bed, homework piled around her, her heart pounding with that one glance, she wondered if he would be at school tomorrow….her school?  Which class?  He looked her age.  Would he be in her class?  She melted with excitement, and that’s when it happened the first time.

At school the next day, an hour in to the morning, her teacher startled her up from her book by tapping his ruler on his desk.  As she looked up she saw him.  Dark, tall, lanky even.  Dark fringe falling over one eye.  She caught his blush as he was introduced to the class and saw his nervousness as he flicked the fringe back….the cutest thing she had EVER seen.  He looked straight at her and that’s the second time it happened.

In the Department of Psychic Research they ran a load of tests on her.  The intense interest around her was palpable.  After all, not everyday did they have documented proof of levitation.  Thank heavens for mobile phones that, although meant to be handed in at the start of school had been surreptitiously stowed away, only to be brought out with all speed to capture the schoolgirl floating 3ft off the floor.

Nothing they did could induce her to rise however so they decided to go back to source; her school.


With promises to contact them if anything should happen again, the Department left her with her worried parents.  After discussions about new schools and changes in diets, the mother calmed down enough to let her go back to normal life.  Quite rightly her father pointed out that moving her now could just make the situation worse.

The next time it happened was in the school gym.  Playing basketball against the boys, the girls were losing if only slightly.  She had the ball and as she tried for the net her hand brushed against Alan’s.  The ball was tipped into the basket very easily as she was almost level with it.

The girls team was furious.  Being disqualified for cheating was not what they had in mind and she was banned from the team.

As she grew into a young woman she left to go to college.  Levitation was almost forgotten as she carved out a new life.  However, when she left college to head for university, and saw him across campus, heard the screams from below her, she finally put two and two together.  It was Alan causing it.  She needed to meet him, talk, perhaps that would stop it.  If she saw he was not as gorgeous in real life as she had made him it to be, then she would come back to earth.

the next time she saw him was later that week where, with her pockets full of rocks and her bag filled with Dumbbells she had borrowed from the gym, she plucked up her courage and found him in the library.  He smiled shyly at her and then caught her hand as she started to rise.  Dragging her down beside him he whispered, ‘it’s me, isn’t it?’

They stuck together through uni and got good jobs close to each other, meeting for lunch every day.  She kept a silk belt on so if she got over happy he could bring her back down, gently.

He asked her to marry him whilst on a fairground ride, whilst strapped in.  Took 6 sessions of loops and whirls before she could leave it.  They both felt quite ill afterwards but she was now promised to him.

They married outside, in the formal gardens of the local Hall.  At the wedding the bride and groom looked resplendent in their bridal wear saying their vows

She was at her happiest.  The best day of her life and, when they reached towards each other, they both smiled softly, thankful for the gold padlock and chain around their ankles, holding them at ground level.

Behind them,  40 guests gently rose above their chairs.