Garden of Shadows

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"My garden of shadows will be your new home, Talia, and Ezra," Arabelle explained. "I'd like to see you make us stay here." Talia and Ezra Ashbridge were special children. The night of their birth was a miracle, their mother was told that the twins wouldn't survive. Though with the help of a Wiccan, Sylvia Ashbridge was able to save her son and daughter, there was a price. On the twins tenth birthday, the Wiccan would return for them and take them to the Garden of Shadows. Will Talia and Ezra bend to the Wiccans' hand, or will they fight to be free from the Garden of Shadows?

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:

Prologue: Ten Years Earlier

The morning was cool, dead leaves danced around the fairly young woman’s legs as she walked down the street. Her slim pale hand laid on top of round belly, she was expecting twins in a month or so. The woman’s name was Sylvia Ashbridge. Her bright green eyes scanned the area around her, tall brick buildings loomed over her. She remembered this part of town from when Andrew, her late husband, took her to a small restaurant just last year to propose marriage. A smile graces her ruby colored lips, that day would forever be in her heart. Same for when she found out she was pregnant. A month into her pregnancy, was when Andrew was ripped away by a single gunshot, while he was on duty as a Salem police officer.

Sylvia sucks in a harsh breath, her little ones growing restless. She leans against a nearby tree for support, “We’re almost there my little munchkins. Be patient.” She says warily. The young mother was on her way to the doctor, having no one to take her she had to walk. Her father had not approved of her marriage with Andrew, so he deemed her as a black sheep. Barnabas Peachly wanted his daughter to marry a wealthy man, but Sylvia ruined that by marrying a lowly cop. It was the twenty-first century, she’d say to her father, not the dark ages he lived in. Although the man was born in the early to late fifties, he still acted like a pompous old timer.

Sylvia takes a breath, she lets it out through her mouth. A strand of her blonde hair fell in front of her eyes. Sylvia stands tall and continues to walk. She hopes that her children will be healthy, she wouldn’t know what to do if anything happened to them. The small doctor’s office soon came into her view, it looked the same as it always did. Two large businesses stood tall on either side of the smaller. Flower beds overflowing with pink posies and yellow tulips stood in front of the building, the sign above saying ‘Hartlyn Clinic,’ swaying lazily in the wind from its chains. Sylvia smiled as she breathed in the scent of the flowers before she walked in.

The tinkling of the bell above the door alerted Rebecca, the receptionist. A bright smile came to life on the woman’s face when she saw Sylvia. “Mrs. Ashbridge! On time like usual, I see! Take a seat dear, Harrison will be in soon.” Sylvia smiles, Rebecca always greeted her with happiness. Being able to rest her aching and swollen feet was a blessing, Sylvia sighed in content as she lounged in the leather chair by the door.

“Have you been walking again? Harrison told you to take it easy, Sylvia.” Rebecca scolds.

Sylvia grins tiredly at the older woman, “It’s the only way I can get around, besides, not like my father will help me.” Rebecca sighs and shakes her head. She knew that it would be hopeless to argue.

“Becky! Who’re you talking to!” A gravely voice called from the back of the small office. Sylvia could recognize that voice anywhere.

“Oh, just your favorite patient, Harrison!” Rebecca calls back. Loud footsteps echoed off the walls as Dr. Harrison Hartlyn bounded to the front. Harrison was a tall and slender man, grey had peppered its way into his brown hair. Sylvia admired the older man, he had gone to school with her father, but he was nothing like Barnabas. Harrison was a laid back guy when he worked he’d dress in jeans and a t-shirt. He would go into light-hearted banter with his patients and he never beat around the bush with them either. Harrison grins as he engulfs Sylvia into a tight embrace. She returns his hug, she always saw him as an uncle.

“How have you been? My, Sylvia you’re absolutely glowing!” Harrison gushes as he holds the young mother at arm’s length. Sylvia smiles and tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear.

“I’m doing alright, Harrison. You act as if you haven’t seen me in years.”

The older man barks out a loud laugh, Sylvia’s smile grows wider. Harrison’s laughter always brought a smile to her face. “It’s always good to see you, Sylvia, now, let’s get you to the back so I can check on your little ones.” He replies as he leads Sylvia to one of the exam rooms. Sylvia lays stretched out on the small bed, her shirt raised showing off her huge belly. She sucks in a harsh breath, the pain was becoming more intense.

Harrison hums a small tune as he applies the cool jelly to Sylvia’s stomach. “Have you been feeling any pain lately?” He asks. Sylvia nods, her earlier pain still quite not gone.

It was now Harrison’s turn to inhale sharply, the sonogram showing something bad. Sylvia’s chest floods with anxiety, “What? Is there something wrong with my babies?” She asks fear obviously in her tone. Harrison wasn’t sure if he should tell her, he was scared of her reaction.

“One... One of the children aren’t moving, Sylvia. Both heartbeats are faint.” He explains. Tears pooled in her green eyes. This couldn’t be happening, she thought. The one thing she feared most was happening to her. First, she lost her husband and now she is losing her children, the only connections she had to her husband was dying. A broken sob leaves her as she places her hands on her stomach.

“H-Harrison, please. Y-You have to save them!” She pleaded. Harrison thinks over his options, he knew only one way.

“The only way I can save them is by performing an emergency cesarean section. I would have to cut them out,” he explains. Sylvia hadn’t cared, she wants her children to be safe. The procedure wasn’t long at all, it only took Harrison an hour to deliver the children. One was a boy and the other was a girl, the girl being older by five minutes. Sylvia wept tears of joy when she heard them cry. Gently, Harrison placed the twins on Sylvia’s chest.

“Congratulations, a beautiful daughter and a very handsome son.”

Sylvia gives a weak smile, “M-My little Talia and Ezra...” She breathes. Her eyes widen in alarm, Talia has stopped breathing and Ezra’s breathes became labored. Harrison takes the children from Sylvia, everything goes by in slow motion. The ambulance from a nearby hospital rushing in to care for her and her children, the bumpy ride to St. Lazarath hospital, and her screaming for her children to stay by her side.

Sylvia sits numbly in the NICU, seeing her children in their incubators with tubes in their mouths broke her heart. Talia barely made it, poor Ezra gasped for air the whole ride to the hospital. Sylvia slipped her hand inside the incubator, gently she stroked her son’s small hand. “P-Please survive my little munchkins.” She whispers.

“Excuse me? Are you Sylvia Ashbridge?” The soft voice startled Sylvia. She turns towards the voice, a young woman stood only a few feet from her. The girl’s dark brown hair was tied back into a long braid, her blue eyes reminded her of Harrison’s. The girl clutched two necklaces in her tan hand, causing them to stand out against her grey dress.

“Y-Yes? Who’re you?”

The girl smiles, the simple movement sent a chill down Sylvia’s spine. “My name is, Arabelle Jones, I couldn’t help but notice your story in the paper. I’m here to offer you and your children, my help.” Arabelle’s offer struck Sylvia like a bolt of lightning. How could this girl help her children?

“Arabelle, right? How do you expect to help my children?” Sylvia questions. Arabelle’s smile widens, she steps closer, the sound of her dress ruffling breaking the tense silence. Sylvia’s eyes widen as she shrinks down into her chair. She flinches when Arabelle thrusts the hand holding the necklaces in her face. Sylvia blinks and looks at the necklaces in a cross-eyed manor.

“With magic, you see, I am a Wiccan. I study herbs, potions, and other magical exponents. There is something special about your children and I wish to save them.” Arabelle explains as she dangles the necklaces in front of Sylvia’s face. This woman is crazy, she thought as she pushed Arabelle’s hand away.

“I appreciate your offer, but I don’t believe in this magic nonsense.” Arabelle’s smile falls for a moment, but she quickly regains it. She takes Sylvia’s hand in hers and placed the necklaces in her open palm. Sylvia looks down at the necklaces, she couldn’t understand why this strange woman was doing this.

“Just try it, place the necklaces on them, but when you do. Know this, Sylvia Ashbridge, I will return in ten years to take the children. Don’t worry, no harm will come to them, I wish you luck in whatever you choose.” Arabelle’s voice was quiet. Sylvia watched in shocked silence as the girl left. She looks down at the two necklaces, one had a ruby pendant and the other had a sapphire one.

Sylvia glances over to her children, could she really take that chance? Magic didn’t exist, at least that’s what she always believed. If the magic did work then her children would be safe, but she would lose them in ten years. Sylvia teased her bottom lip with her teeth, “I’ll stop her. Arabelle won’t have my children because I’ll stop her. She whispers as she gently wraps the sapphire necklace around Ezra’s tiny hand. She moves over to Talia and wraps the ruby necklace around her hand.

Sylvia watches in amazement as color returns to her children’s features. The light blue tint was replaced with a lively pink. “Nurse! Nurse come quick!” She calls. The tubs and other machinery was removed from Talia and Ezra, the children’s cries were loud and healthy. The nurses and doctors called it a miracle, no one believed that the twins would survive, but here they were crying loud with purpose.

Later in the evening, Sylvia sat in her hospital bed holding her children. The necklaces were moved to be around their necks, she strokes their cheeks and smiles.

“I’ll protect you, my little munchkins. You’re my little miracles.” She whispers as the twins smile in their deep slumbers.

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