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Garden of Shadows

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Talia and Ezra Ashbridge weren’t supposed to live. Their little hearts giving out on them after leaving the womb. Leaving their mother, Sylvia, not even a chance to hear that precious newborn cry. So, Sylvia cried for them. She wept for her dead children as she was left alone by the midwives in order to grieve her lost babies. She wept so loudly that she almost missed the gentle voice of a woman. “They’re not lost, you know.” “What are you talking about? They lie unmoving and cold!” Sylvia snaps. “For now they do, but I have the power to bring the life they lost, back.” “I know what you are…” Sylvia frowns, “Are you mad to show yourself in such a place as this?” “Mad? Perhaps…” a glossy red smile forms on the woman’s lips, “But I’ve managed to live this long and not be caught.” With magic there comes a price. Can Talia and Ezra survive this price? Or will they fall victim like the children before they have?

Fantasy / Horror
Age Rating:


October 13, 1896

The loud cries of labor echoes down the corridors of the stone hospital that stood just on the edge of town. In a sparsely lit room, laid a woman on a barely-there cot. Her legs were braced by two other women, wearing long dresses and aprons. Another sat below her, giving encouragement as the screaming woman let out another anguished scream.

“Come on, Sylvia! One more push!”

Sylvia does as she’s told, tears streaming down her reddened face. A sense of relief washes over her when her awaited babe finally slips free. She pants heavily and lays her head back, waiting patiently for the baby to start crying.

“Oh, dear…”

“W-What? What’s wrong?” Sylvia asks, lifting her head up as she does.

“Um… Nothing, it’s okay. Tilly? Please take the child and stimulate her whilst I clean up.”

The lady that was holding Sylvia’s left leg nods and quickly moves over to the lead midwives side. She watches as Tilly takes her child away, roughly rubbing and patting the baby's back as she does.

“W-Where is she… O-Oh god, the pain is back!” Sylvia cries.

The midwife that held her right leg bent to check her pelvis, Sylvia watched as the woman grew pale in the face.

“Miranda! There’s another child, quick!”

Sylvia’s screams drown out the sound of Miranda’s hurrying footsteps.

“Okay, Sylvia. I know you’re tired but you need to push like before! Now, push!” Miranda yells.

Sylvia does as she’s told.

Please let this one be okay…’

Sylvia stares off into the furthest dark corner in her hospital room. Even with the fireplace lit, she had goose-pimples prickled all over her pale skin. Next to her in a wooden bassinet laid her stillborn children. A boy and a girl, she named them Talia and Ezra. Names, the two of them would never learn, names she will never be able to call out.

A choked sob breaks the silence in the room, her weakened frame trembling as she tries to cover her mouth.

“They’re not lost, you know.”

Sylvia looked up startled, standing on the threshold of her room was a young woman. She was petite, with porcelain skin and pale blue eyes. Her blonde hair hung down in two long braids just past her breasts. Her lips were painted a ruby red. Just having looked at her sent a chill down Sylvia’s spine.

“Pardon me?” Sylvia rasps.

“They’re not lost, you know.”

The woman walks in, her puffy pale green dress swishing at the bottom as she does. Sylvia gives the woman an incredulous look and watches as she trails her lithe fingers over the deceased baby's foreheads.

“What are you talking about? They lie unmoving and cold!”

“For now they do, but I have the power to bring the life they lost back.”

Sylvia stares at the woman for a moment and then she feels it. That certain pull that cunning women like her have, the one that always reels in those who feel too desperate to deny their offers.

“I know what you are…” Sylvia frowns, “Are you mad to show yourself in such a place as this?”

“Mad? Perhaps…” a smile forms on the woman’s glossy red lips, “But I’ve managed to live this long and not be caught.”

Sylvia hesitates for a moment, her pale green eyes flicking to look at her dead children. Her mother always told her to avoid women and men such as this, that dealing in the macabre has consequences but…

“Help them…”

The woman smiles and pulls out a small black velvet pouch, she unties the amethyst ribbon that held it closed. Sylvia watches as the woman carefully pulls out two necklaces, one with a ruby pendant and the other with a blue kyanite crystal.

“What are those supposed to do?”

“Shh… Just watch.”

The woman gently places the ruby necklace around Talia’s cold neck, she does the same with the kyanite necklace to Ezra.

Sylvia watches in bated breath, she cries in relief when both children let out shrill cries as life returns to them. Their once pale and cold skin grew warm and pink with life.

“Thank yo-!” Sylvia looks up, only to find the woman gone. As if she had never been there, the only proof of her existence were Sylvia’s crying children, the necklaces, and a single folded slip of paper.

Sylvia looks to the door when the sound of running footsteps echo down the hall. Miranda and the other two midwives stand shocked at the threshold.

“It’s a miracle!” Miranda breathes.

Sylvia would soon learn that “miracles” came with a price, in thirteen years’ time.

On their thirteenth birthday, I shall return to collect what is owed for my services. Don’t try to hide them from me, Sylvia. I will find them, I will always find them no matter what you do.

Yours Truly,

Arabelle Dupree

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