Sighing, she turned away from the high gate and slipped the key into her pocket. “Darling, we’ve talked about this. You know I don’t like to repeat myself.”
Broad, blunt hands dug furrows into the soil, before plucking up a dandelion.
For a moment, flat teeth chewed. “Miss mo-ther,” came the sad admission.
“Quiet here. Want… need…”
Her eyes softened at the strain, and she knelt to cup a heavy jaw. “I understand. It must be hard when I’m not around. I wish I could stay here all the time, but I have work. Remember work?”
At the touch, broad shoulders relaxed even as nostrils flared. “Yes. Out. Help, I help?”
“You can’t help.” Her fingers tightened momentarily before falling away. “What are you, darling? Tell me.”
Those hands clenched again, grass tearing at the roots. When it came, the word was a confession, whispered in shame.
“That’s right,” she said gently. “Out is dangerous for monsters. Here is safe, here is where your garden grows. Don’t you love what I made for you?”
Wide brown eyes took in the maze of flowerbeds and shade trees. “Yes. Love, love much. But-“
“No more buts,” she said sternly, rising to her feet. “If you’re lonely, it might be time to get you a new pet.”
“No! Not… red. All red. Sadness.”
Muscles flexed as if to stand, but she stopped the motion with firm hands. “It’s not your fault, love. I didn’t teach you to be gentle then. You remember it now?”
“Yes, mo-ther. Hands, I know. Soft.” There was a moan, and a malformed head buried itself against the bright blue of her dress. “But no pets. Just mo-ther. Is good.”
“That’s my darling. You remember better every day. How about tomorrow, hmm? Will you remember about Out?”
One watery eye opened, staring passed the blurry edges of her dress to the gate. Around them, flowers bobbed and rustled.
“Yes, mo-ther. Remember.”
AUTHOR BIO: Sarah Wilson’s publishing credits include: “No Need for Ghosts” and “Selective Sight” both of which were published by Every Day Fiction.com, in March and July 2012, respectively.