I wandered, passing in the eclipsing gloom as I traversed the narrow dirt path through the thickening woods. The soles of my leather granny boots producing an eerie crunching as I weaved my way through the soupy darkness. The candle lantern I carried barely penetrating through its murkiness. Stumbling more so than walking should have rendered a sore ankle, not assisting me in my travels was my hair in ringlets of dirty straw that continued to fall from the raven ribbon that had fastened it firm just a few fleeting minutes before. Trees on either side began their enclosure ever closer to the path. Quickening pace, heart beating ever harder as I uncluttered the tangled branches before me.
Arriving at the old iron gate gathering my breath about me, clinging to the heavy ivy laced rails. Every inch of my skin trembling with anticipated excitement. Prohibited from leaving the cabin in the middle of the night was a matter unto itself. Coming to Arcadia, the lost gardens was seen in the eyes of the village as forbidden with prosecutable repercussions. My heart no longer gave care to the decrees of those back in the hamlet. Having listened to the many tales that were spun regarding Arcadia, began my initial infatuation with the place. Seeming like endless months of making my way here in the early afternoon, my decision came to break this night. Finding myself standing here about to lay my eyes on a place with many secrets that are only heard in whisper now.
Placing my lantern inside the gate heavy with ivy, I began to maneuver my way over the iron and ivy wall. Dropping to the ground on the inner side of the fencing, the scent of honeysuckle and rose greeted me. With lantern in hand I cautiously made my way to the monument in the center of the garden. Seeming that I was not as careful as I had thought, as the tip of the ivy shrouded iron finial pierced my left shoulder tearing the skin as a I disembarked on the other side. Even with the faintest of light my eyes gazed upon beautiful flowering bushes, an old weeping willow towered in a rear corner with its fragile tendrils of leafy green cascading it’s protection over everything. I lifted my light to the monument to see the carved face of a man, mouth open in what appeared to be a scream, I backed with a start. Passing by I slowly made my way to the back of the garden where the rows of thick moon flowers grew, blooms out full in this night.
Spectacular the garden here as it has grown wild and bloomed for many years. Unable to comprehend why there was so much restraint and fear regarding such a wonderful place. I watched as the fireflies seemed to set their twinkle just outside the confines of the garden, commencing in a dance of light. The air began to clear as a gentle breeze stirred. The wound on my arm began to burn, the edges of the tear in the arm of my dress had begun to swell in dark crimson stain. Enchantment had gained lust in my eyes, the aroma of the exotic blooms had filled my senses. I was caught in the seduction as the various colors like waves of a rainbow in the silky illumination.
An excruciating pain seared up my right leg as I must have hurt that during my climb. Faintness reached inside my mind, having to sit before I succumbed I lunged toward the monument where I took seat on the edge I dared not attempt to look up, that face unsettling. The darkness filled with stars before my eyes as behind me a course, cold voice spoke in my ear.
“Oh fair maiden to my garden ye came. Have you no fear, did warnings not bestow your ears?” I saw not the form which vocalized in my right ear. It’s breathing was steadfast carrying a slight lisp in its words. “No one has come here for forty years, Arcadia belongs to me as it is with any trespassers who dare enter here.” I fought the receding of my consciousness as the form behind the voice slowly materialized. Legs slender and pointed appeared before my eyes, there were not two but 6, now 8.
I roused spinning, wetness covered my face. Nightmares, I had just to wake from this hellish theme. Bound, unable to move my arms, pain stabbed at my wounded arm. Twas no nightmare to release me, confined by tormenting beast my screams found no release.
“You foolish thing look now at the beauty of my garden. Each flower blooming lay eyes upon them now.” His slithered speech producing a thick mucus gelatinous goo that dripped and splattered over me. Forcing my eyes open horrors did I see splayed out in front of me. For each flower that bloomed was a face of varied hues. The willow that flowed like a feather in the breeze now took on the form of a man and a woman in a longing embrace, with weary sorrow shown on their face. Their hair entwined in a tangled mess.
The silky hissing of the spiders words scoured my ears like the roughness of the couples bark. “Your only savior shall be if you can answer me this. What is timeless, flows free, it’s hard to hold, strengthens with time, it revolts and shines, takes breath away, eluding me even this day? Answer quickly or mine you’ll be.” The mangled looking mouth pressed close to my face. I reeled inside myself trying to grasp at his rhyme. Not able to process let alone think. Allowing my eyes wander, seeking a clue. The beautiful moon flowers now a deep hue of blue, each with eyes weary and they were weeping, the honeysuckle vines were arms outstretched and holding hands. My eyes filled with tears now on an internal quest for the answer. Shivering in the coldness as my emotions reeled. Petrified as looking on the willow lovers entwined. My voice barely audible as I spoke this monsters request “Love, your answer is love”.
Beginning to weep, my chest clutching as the tears flowed and my terror overcame me. The arachnid that had me bound, seethed backwards in recoil, lurching on its legs. “This can not be, for centuries I’ve been here in Arcadia, drawing my victims under her veil. No one has correctly answered me. A young heart takes it, so I’ll leave it be. You rancid being.”
Watching in illusions state as this enormous putrid insect began to wither and dry out, falling on his claimed ground. Sobbing as I looked around. Amazed at what my eyes had found. In the corner a beautiful rose blooming full and bright. Upon awakening to what seemed like hours later as the sun began to light the day, there were flowers growing where just before that monster had laid.
Unable to move still restrained, on looking down now my legs had rooted and turned green. The garden bloomed with smiling eyes reaching toward the sky. The willow now full and green waving in the gentle breeze.