A Cultivated Garden by Robert B. Hazelton

There was a garden on the west side of the house, hiding beneath the eaves from the more drastic weather. It wasn’t an elaborate affair; just large enough for one person to manage with a little sweat. Over the years, the plot had known many crops from daisies to carrots to strawberries with everything in between and often two to three at the same time. All the while it had been void of weeds and the soil had been kept clear though a week of neglect seemed to already be taking its toll.

A patch nearest the house had always been a weed problem. As fast they could be removed, they often found their way back within a few days, peaking through the lush soil like a child guiltily peering down the stairs Christmas morning. Though that small section had been quarantined for years, it now bled throughout, little brown strains mixed amongst the green of the current crops.

Anne noted all of this from the window of her bedroom that overlooked her pride and joy since she was barely ten. Over the last year and a half, life had lost its luster for the twenty-seven year old but the garden had lingered as joy until two weeks prior. Too many things had happened; too many things hadn’t happened. The dichotomy was too much to bear and she had made her decision on how to end it.

She glanced across the yard at the setting sun, frowning back a bitter sensation that boiled in her chest. The emotion threatened to overwhelm her to tears but she swore she wouldn’t cry again—not so close to her solution. Her weakness was already going to be on display for the world. There was no reason to compound it with further humiliation.

Turning back to her vanity, she sat down and peered into the mirror. She was dressed for the occasion in the same black gown she wore when her mother was buried. It hung low on the shoulders, sweeping in a subtle arch which revealed a field of pale skin. The corset gave her breasts some lift which in turn revealed a liberal amount of cleavage. At the waist, the skirt flared out, falling to her ankles.

About her slender neck, she wore a black silk choker that was bound in the center by a perfectly oval onyx; matching earrings dripped from her ears, two black dots on white gold threads. She glanced down at her recently manicured hands; hands that were accustomed to the work outside looked alien to her in their pristine condition. Turning her arm to point her palm toward the ceiling, her eyes examined the trace of vein that meandered along a patch of white toward her fingers.

She reached over with her free hand and lifted the implement of her release; a long blade she spirited away from her father’s study. The knife had been in their family for generations and she was quite certain it had tasted blood before. Death was a constant companion in her household; it had fed well on enemies and friends alike.

But the world was different now, modernized… safe. Or maybe the violence was just more civilized. War certainly wasn’t stayed by the trivialities of civilized culture. Really, the nicer clothes and better carriages, the larger homes and table manners, none of them mattered. They were nothing more than elaborate facades to hide the true nature of humanity, the seething animosity they have for sanctity. Why did people try so desperately to obscure the chaos that ruled their hearts? The world made no sense to her anymore.

“Not as bad as that.” The silky masculine voice floated on the air near her ears and yet it was so quiet she could’ve sworn it was confined to her thoughts. “Is the world truly so bleak as to plan such an end?”

Her heart beat a bit faster and though a part of her wanted to turn around, a rational side told her ‘there’s nothing in the mirror, you’re imagining things’. Or was she? Could this be a voice from heaven? The final chance to not commit a mortal sin? Or just her conscience begging her to stay her hand? But what was there to live for? Nothing in this world anymore… or ever if she wanted to get picky.

“You have a flare for the dramatic,” The voice continued on, a bit more audible now. There was definitely someone in the room. She just wasn’t willing to look to see who… especially if they weren’t casting a reflection. “Dressed in your funeral finery, looking more striking than any of those strumpets that scorned your company years ago. All because of religious convictions too… So much for the concept of togetherness and acceptance.”

“I’m looking down on your little garden. Do you feel that it’s passed its prime? Like it’s hopeless? It’s only lost what you’re unwilling to give it back you know.”

“I…” Anne found her voice but couldn’t form anymore words.

“Yes, I know what you’re thinking. There’s nothing left to live for. No point. The death of your mother, of your sister, your cousin, all of them weigh heavily on your soul and now, alone with your father as your only living relative you feel fragile and exposed. You feel old despite the fact that you’re not even half way through your prime. Everything stacks against you, like the cancerous weeds that dominate your garden, you feel overwhelmed. Am I wrong?”

“No,” She whispered, shaking her head. “I just… can’t.”

“You can’t? You won’t. There’s a big difference. But you’re right, this existence, this life has no point for you.” She heard movement for the first time, a footfall near the window. “Your guilt right now, the thing that stayed your hand for the briefest moment lies outside this window. Who would tend the garden? You think that you’re abandoning it but really, that happened already. I don’t think you could sever ties any faster unless you started to destroy things.”

“What do you want?” A tear was sliding down her cheek now, the tears in her eyes brightening their blue to a vibrant shade. The effect made her look so… alive.

“You.” He said it with so much simple directness that her heart caught in her throat. Finally, she turned to look at him, her eyes widening at the site.

There was an unearthly youth about the man that stood before her. Perfect skin was pale though still retained some of the darker skin tone native to someone of Slavic descent… perhaps gypsy even. Black hair tumbled down his back, tied into a tail, pulled back from a noble brow. His body was lithe, a fact mirrored by his high cheek bones and thin cheeks. The elaborate ruffled shirt beneath a gentleman’s coat seemed a bit out of place on him, as though it required effort to look as though they belonged.

Despite her evaluation of his appearance, she couldn’t meet his eyes. Something in her wouldn’t allow her to as if she wasn’t worthy. It was an absurd feeling, a thought that she found more frustration in than embarrassment. Point of fact, she should be outraged. How did this man get in? He was obviously some fop but… for the fact that he wasn’t… casting a reflection….

Perhaps if she wasn’t already in the pits of despair, she might have been afraid but as it was the fact merely intrigued her. “Why?” She finally thought to ask, wondering what about her could have enamored him enough to bring about this encounter. However fleeting, however peripherally, the mere thought of being wanted even by this bizarre… person… brought a shimmer of hope to her heart.

“Because you’ve been unwanted for so long.” Once again, he said it as though it were a fact any child should know. “Your father doesn’t even look at you anymore. He sees your mother in your face, in those sharp features and that smooth skin. He sees your brother in those glittering eyes and hears the laughter in your voice. You remind him of death so he treats you like you embody doom. Since the death of your last relative, you’ve been dead to him as well. You might as well have drowned in that boating accident you escaped from. Maybe that was even expected.”

“How can you speak so lightly about… about all that’s happened?”

“Why not?” He shrugged, casually leaning against the window frame. “That sort of thing happens all the time. Granted, it happened to you in greater frequency and closer together but others suffer day in and day out. Your pain was over quickly, only you force it to linger. Imagine a debilitating disease without the funds for a possible cure or the withering of flesh as age trims away the edges of what once was a great person. Compared along side what you’ve gone through, it makes your complaints out to be rather… petty.”

That reprimand pushed her over the edge. She dropped the knife to the floor and buried her face in her hands, crying with all the desperation that had driven her to want death. How could he be so cold? Why was he there to mock her pain? Was this God’s preface to hell? Eternal torment could never be so horrifying as her life had been over the course of her adult life. Nothing could, nothing would.

“It’s not just the others, is it?” The voice asked in a knowing sort of way as if intending to draw attention rather than seek knowledge.

Anne looked up, brows furrowed. Through the blurry vision her tears created, her calm tormentor was a white blur against the backdrop of the waning twilight. His arms were at his side but the gap between them and his body were filled in by their obscured outlines. It occurred to her that he looked something like an angel. Perhaps he was a messenger from God… someone to give her the final chance to return to the fold before she destroyed her soul forever.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Of course you know what I mean. You haven’t found love in this life. You don’t believe in it anymore. Such a frivolous waste of time, isn’t it? Love’s just a measure of a man’s vanity to get a woman to go to bed with him and a woman’s tool to not have to live with her parent’s for the rest of her days—to not be a spinster. A way to escape the lot of a life that’s been bound to servitude by social standards. Love’s not a state of being or an attainable virtue, it’s a weapon of statecraft and the eternal struggle between the sexes.” He paused in his long winded oration. “Bitterness, does not become you.”

“How would you know?” Anne cried her angst in response. “How do you know anything?”

“Because I’ve lived it, my dear.” He stepped across the room, extending his hand to touch her cheek but stopping short. The hand hovered there for a moment before he drew it away, balling his fingers into a fist. “Because I know how the world works and how the independent organisms move throughout it. I know what drives humanity and what creates the angst that you’re toiling through right now. All of these things I’ve had to learn and they’ve all had a cost… sometimes such payment was more than I thought I could bear. But as you can see, here I stand and as I said before ‘it’s not as bad as all that’.”

“You have a lot of lofty words and philosophy but you haven’t told me why you’re here. What are you? Are you angel? Demon? Am I hallucinating?”

“Amiable questions. The very act of asking them says something about your perception. It would be nice to think of myself as something divine but then I’d be walking down your path, fooling myself about the world and my role in it. I would be complaining or feel compelled to kill myself because I was not true to my beliefs. You are in denial of all things: your place, your suffering, my existence… Laboring on to cite you more examples wastes time that could be better spent elsewhere.”

“But I don’t understand…” Anne said with a painful desperation in her voice. “Why can’t I just die in peace? Why does even my end have to be full of torment? I know that I couldn’t find anyone… No one would look at me. Not after all that’s happened with my family. Not after they thought—“ The words caught in her throat and she clenched her fists in frustration.

“Since they thought you might’ve helped your cousin to die?” He asked. “Of course not. Would any father allow his son into the arms of a potential murderess? Even one so stunning as you? Perhaps not at present but what of the future?”

“What future?” She shot at him. “Who are you?”

“My name is Sasha.” He inclined his head slightly. “And I’ve come to offer you a future apart from all this… death.”

“What do you mean?” The first inkling of fear swam through her veins like icy fish disturbing a warm river. The tone in his voice was so dangerous, so knowing and so utterly without regret. She suddenly wanted him to go, feared him more than she feared death… Whatever he wanted or had to offer could not be good and would certainly not be the will of any sort of beneficial deity… But what if that was just paranoia? Ingrained spiritual nonsense from church? Maybe everyone was wrong. He seemed to have the answers… Even without looking into his eyes, she could feel the confidence surging out of him like waves of heat from a stallion after a run.

“I want to save you the fate of the garden, Anne. I want to bring you peace and let you see the world through a new set of eyes. Opened and aware, you’ll finally have the faculties to appreciate your experiences rather than react to them.”

Anne stood from her chair and walked up beside Sasha, staring out the window at her garden. It had been a long time since she saw it through a filter of love, for so long she’d seen it as therapy against all the monstrosities she’d experienced and the neglect she felt. Life had proven to be universally unfair for it could be taken away with mind numbing rapidity and yet from the same action of swift resolution, could torment for years.

The weeds had gone even more out of control than she had noticed before. The other plants were suffering though the signs were subtle. She had worked too long in that little patch to not be capable of seeing even the slightest signs of impending disaster. If she was gone, would anyone tend that garden? Probably not. It would rot and overgrow, becoming a grass mount of weeds and bugs, a domicile to unwanted creatures and eventually nothing would be able to be done for it other than to tear it out completely and start over. All if she just surrendered her life… it would all be over and though she knew that she wouldn’t have such earthly concerns upon a successful completion of her plan, the bit of life that clung to her cried out against such an injustice.

“What can you do?” She was hoping to put some strength behind the question but came out meek and submissive, like she was hoping he would take charge, praying that he would lead her on to what she was unwilling or incapable of seeking alone.

Anne felt cold fingers touch the edge of her chin, gently turning her head from the window to look up into rich, brown eyes, gazing down at her with the most resolute kindness she had ever seen in her entire life. She could spend a lifetime staring into his soul, exploring the depth of thought and creativity was overwhelming. His gaze made her feel small, insignificant to the power that came from total mastery of himself—a mastery she could only imagine submitting to, never possessing.

“You don’t have to be outside anymore.” Sasha’s words were strangely effecting, a double meaning spoke to her soul. How long had she felt like an outsider? How long had she wished that she could be apart of something?

Or was it anything like that at all? Was it really about being apart? Or was it about surety? What was sure in life? Nothing. All the precautions in the world, hiding under the bed, locking the door, dressing warm against the cold… none of them mattered if it was your time. Nature was uncaring. The world continued on whether the fragility of life and love endured, whether or not the petty squabbling and concerns of mortality ended in peace or disaster… It helped bring her terror into sharp focus.

“Do I… can you…” The questions formed at her lips but ended with her thoughts. She closed her eyes, tilting her head slightly in a silent form of acceptance—the first time that she felt that giving into fate was the right choice, that she was in good hands.

Time passed by… a minute seemed to tick by a year when finally she felt Sasha’s fingers dance like feathers up arms to her neck. The sensation brought goose pimples to her skin, making her body shiver with a mixture of delight and surprise. She’d never felt the touch of a man before but she’d thought about the subject a thousand times. Intimacy was the thing she craved most in life—and it’s the one thing that she was denied time and time again.

Sasha moved around her back, unhooking the choker and dropping it to the floor. It seemed to take a little too much time to fall, the clack of the onyx on the hardwood a few moments later than Anne would’ve thought. His fingers continued to move sliding up her head and plunging into her black curls. A moment later, he removed the sticks binding the hair there, letting it topple to her shoulders and below.

Her body was an organism of shivering now. Anne had never been so turned on in her life. Every ounce of her being was longing for more of his touch but his fingers merely teased their way back down to her shoulders, pausing for just a moment then questing onward toward the front of her gown. There was a lace there that kept the bodice closed and though the gown couldn’t come off with her corset on, her breasts could easily be revealed by a few well placed tugs.

The knot was undone first and her nipples were greeted with a light breeze, a sensation that brought them immediately to full attention. Anne expected more teasing, she expected anything but what happened. All at once, she felt the hot of Sasha’s mouth close over her breast, his tongue moving around the nipple softly as he sucked. Though it was a sudden movement, his action wasn’t rough. Quite the contrary, it was just the right amount of attention to make her body shake and her loins stiffen with desire.

When she thought that she wouldn’t be able to take much more, he brought a hand up and pinched the other, causing her to jump. Finally, the desire and passion was too much to bear and she lost track of the concept of ‘impropriety’. She lifted her arms and cradled his head, holding him in place as he continued to suck and lick.

As soon as she was thus stabilized, she realized that she wouldn’t have had much of a choice with her knees beginning to shake from his tender ministrations. There were so many things that she wanted but didn’t know how to ask for, motions she could envision in her heart but could never describe with her brain, places she wanted to be touched that were too taboo to mention…

Anne barely realized that Sasha had stopped tending to her nipple when suddenly, her corset was torn, the tatters falling to the floor as he violently cleared the path between him and the hot, aroused flesh beneath. She let go of his head and nearly stumbled back but he caught her about the waist, lifting her up and carrying her to the bed. Once there, he managed to hold her aloft with one arm while removing the rest of her ruined garment.

She shivered from cold and fear, unsure of what was happening next but certain that she no longer had any control over it. There was no stopping now. She had to trust Sasha implicitly for good or ill and despite her mental trepidation, her body was already accepting the inevitable.

She was moist and hot between her legs, a sensation she had felt before but never so intense. Her eyes were still closed but she heard another rip of cloth, a garment striking the floor. Sasha was hovering over her, she could feel his presence and shortly, she felt his lips, kissing her bare stomach, ever moving slowly down.

Some locks of his hair had escaped their bonds, the ends tickling her flesh with every ragged breath that she took. Seemingly by instinct, she separated her legs as he kissed her abdomen and as his mouth nearly hovered over her sex, she held her breath tightly, and clasped the bed covers in anticipation.

Sasha hesitated, breathing softly on the fold of skin he was about to taste. When he was certain she could not handle the suspense much longer, he brushed the tip of his tongue gently against her, taking a long, leisurely lick that tore a moan from her throat. He paused, letting her writhe in frustration before returning for another pass.

Her moans became incessant, she reached down and took hold of his head in a wanton moment of passion, pulling his head against her. His tongue had perfect rhythm, working with her body’s motions and keeping up with each convulsive display of pleasure, dragging out every second of sensation. He seemed to govern the mounting pressure in her loins, dragging it higher and higher…

All at once, her eyes opened wide and her mouth was wide with a silent scream. She spread her legs further apart, bucking her hips to give him better access. Waves of orgasm flashed over her like chills during a fever, lightening her head, burning her senses into one cohesive entity of pleasure.

Anne felt tears leak out of her eyes and she shivered and moaned through a serious of experiences she never would have imagined could be possible. Never, in her wildest fantasies had she felt something so… beautiful.

When he stopped and mounted the bed, she realized that he was completely naked. She could not have asked for more—his body was as handsome as his face, lithe, muscular… his penis was erect and as it came to rest against the wet folds between her legs, she realized just how demanding the hunger in his eyes really was. But he held out… he did not begin though every bone in her body ached for him to release inside her, to take her body and pleasure himself as he had pleasured her.

Their lips met and she could taste herself on him, a fact that made her kiss him all the more hungrily. Tongues wrestled a moment, circling as their emotions intensified. She ran her nails down his back which made him arch his back; an act that made his penis slip inside her.

Anne was far from prepared for how it felt and though it might have been premature, Sasha took advantage of gaining entrance. He began slowly, still kissing her despite her shivering gasps between their kisses. His long member moved in and out in ever more rapid strokes, the contours meeting hers perfectly and as her hips started to move in time with him, she could finally feel his body shaking with pleasure.

She had no conception with how long they made love but with all the suddenness of his arrival, Sasha’s eyes opened wide and took her roughly by her hair. With a quick motion, he pulled hard, exposing her slender throat. She felt his body tighten with climax at the same moment that sharp teeth pierced deep into her skin.

Again, her mouth opened in a silent scream as a wash of agony danced along her nerves from her neck to her feet and back to her head. It was followed by a perverse ecstasy, as her blood throbbed out of her into his mouth, her heartbeat was rapid from pleasure and sudden fear. The sucking sensation was so tender, she wondered at how bad it could be… the horror of the situation was lost on her… everything was bliss…

Her extremities began to numb first but she didn’t notice. Her fingertips, her toes… soon her ankles and elbows… It was colder in the room despite the sweat on her skin and she was having a hard time breathing. Her heartbeat had slowed, throbbing with difficulty as there was nothing left to pump. Darkness surrounded her peripheral vision and the only thing she could feel was Sasha’s hot mouth drinking her in and a few trails of her own blood dripping off her neck.

Consciousness was about to depart, her heart would follow it. A voice whispered in her head, speaking to her as if it were in her thoughts. “You’ve met death…” It mocked her, she knew that she hadn’t met death, only tasted its beginning. “How will you embrace it? With vigor? Or complacency?”

Anne didn’t have the energy for much but she managed to moan, trying to turn her head. “What’s this?” The voice asked gently, placing a kiss on her ear lobe. “If you want it, then all you have to do is take it.”

She wanted it… she wanted it more than anything but how was she going to take even the most necessary of things? Her body was dying, her cells failing, everything that was her would be gone in a few mere moments. In many ways, she was already dead. “Come now, are you giving up? Like the others? Your other relatives? Surrendering to death? Your adversary you thought to meet on your own terms… I’ve brought you to him and now you can spit in his face. Or will you let him ravish you as I’ve done?”

The will in her heart drove her on; she had no other reserve of strength. In a moment of pure, animal lust, she lifted her head and latched herself to a wound on his neck that she somehow instinctively knew would be there.

It came out in a rush, hot and fragrant, it burned her nose for a moment as if bile had backed up in her throat. It rushed along, filling her body with its heat, revitalizing her senses, returning her strength. Muscles twitched, her body exploded once again into a pleasurable rash of convulsion, as if the very taste of gore was sending her into another climax. It ran down her chin, dropped on her bear breasts and continued a lazy trail to meld into the hair on her abdomen. She swallowed as quickly as she could and Sasha just held her tightly, cradling her like a child.

Anne got her fill long before Sasha was spent and as he lowered her back down on the pillow, he rose and pulled on his pants. “It won’t be a pleasant change, my love.” He said, looking over his torn shirt. “But when you get through it—and you will—you’ll be happy again. The seed I’ve planted today will blossom and when you wake up from your sleep, it will be like rebirth. It’s my gift to you—the eternity of your creation now resides in your veins. You’re as timeless as a rose. It’s my gift to you.”

Sasha’s final words hung at the edge of her subconscious mind and as she heard him leave, she wanted to cry out to him. Her body felt strong but was rapidly descending into a heavy sleep—one she feared she’d never wake from again—one that she knew was to be fatal… Had he killed her? Was her trust misplaced? Did she trade one death for another? When the last vestiges of light faded from her sight, she realized the truth.

No, she wasn’t dead… not in the conventional sense but something was happening. Anne suddenly believed his words—it was a gift, it was timeless… it was exactly what she wanted but more importantly, it was what she needed.

Anne figured it was far past time that death gave a little back for all it had taken. It owed her—and she was happy to collect.

_______________

Robert Hazelton has been an author and musician his entire life. He has worked as a technical writer, a freelance copywriter and taught guitar lessons as well as published works of poetry and several CDs of music with the band Abney Park. Currently, Robert has been hard at work on several short stories and a novel due to be completed by June. Website: http://www.darkrepast.com

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A Cultivated Garden © 2004
by Robert B. Hazelton
All Rights Reserved.

 

 
     
     

 

 



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