Mary Bell in the Magic Garden


by Jan Tetstone



    "Mary Bell, come on. You'll miss the train," Joe Donaldson yelled at his daughter, picking a suitcase up and heading for the door.

'Dad, I'll be right there. I have to feed Go-Boy," Mary Bell replied. Knowing the truth was she wasn't looking forward to this trip. She had visited her Aunt Helen a few years back. It was the worst vacation she ever went on. Her Aunt Helen is her dad's baby sister who never married and knows nothing about planning interesting stuff for a teenager.

She nor her dad said a word to each other all the way to the bus station. He knew she really didn't want to go. And, Mary Bell knew with his work related trips, he had no choice but to send her to Aunt Helen's. Since her mom's death, Mary Bell and her dad had drifted a part. She loved her Dad but never told him how lost she felt after her mom's death.

The old car came to a full stop in front of the Heavendale train station. The passengers were just beginning to board the train.

"Well", said Mary Bell, "I will see you in two weeks."

Her dad looked at her unhappy face. He knew she didn't want to go.

"You got to board, now," her father said, leaning over and kissing  her forehead.

Night had fallen, by the time the train arrived in Garden City where her aunt was waiting for her arrival.

As the old  black Lincoln turned in the driveway, Mary Bell got a strange feeling. It felt like someone was watching them. And, her aunt hadn't said a word to her since greeting her at the train station

After the car came to a complete stop in front of the house,  the older woman's suddenly started acting a bit nervous .

"Come on, Mary Bell," the older woman said, "I will take you to your room."

They went up the stairs, and down a long narrow hallway.

"This will be your room, while you are here," the woman said, turning, and  hurry back down the narrow hallway.

Something didn't seem right. She had never seen her aunt act like that before. She  decided to wait until morning to ask her why she was acting so strangely.

After Mary Bell had gone to bed she lay awake thinking of her mother. And, how she use to come in to her room, and tell her a story about her childhood. Feeling that she was about to fall asleep, Mary Bell snuggled down under the blankets.

The next morning, she heard a knock on the door.

"I'm coming," Mary Bell said, hurrying over and opening the door only to find there was no one there.

"I must have been dreaming," she said, out loud. "But. It sounded so real."

Walking over to the big window, that was framed with yellow-lace curtains, she couldn't believe her eyes. There was a beautiful garden. She didn't remember seeing it the last time she visited her aunt.

As Mary Bell walked slowly down the old stairs she saw her aunt exiting the kitchen.

"Good-morning," she said ,motioning Mary Bell to set at the table.

"Good morning," the girl replied back, settling into the over-sized ,soft cushioned, red captain's chair.  

"Aunt Helen, did you knock on my door earlier?"

"No. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. I must have been dreaming."

The older woman, suddenly, got a strange look on her face. Setting in the chair next to the girl she starts to cry, uncontrollably. Mary Bell had never seen her aunt act like this.

"What's going on! First, I arrive here and get the feeling I am being watched. Then I hear a knock on my door, open it, and find no one there. And now you are crying at the breakfast table. Please, tell me what's going on," the girl begged, fighting back her own tears.

"Let me explain," Aunt Helen replied, trying to sound calm. "Not long after your last visit, strange things started to happen. One morning, I heard a knock on my bedroom door. When I opened the door, there was no one there," she  said, as she raised from her chair, walked over to the window, and stared out."

"Three nights, I heard the knocking. Then, the next day, I looked out this same window and saw the flower garden," she added.

Mary Bell was very surprised to see a smile on the older woman's face.

"It's a magical flower garden," the woman said, motioning for the girl to come see for herself.

"Aunt Helen! It don't look light it did when I arrived! It is so beautiful. What made it change? Please, tell me."

"When I was a child, your father and I lost our mother, too. We planted a flower garden for her. Every time we earned money, we'd add another flower. For Mother's birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, we planted a flower for every holiday. After school, and on weekends we would tend the flower garden. One day, your father and I were setting among the flowers watching the butterflies when three fairies appeared. We were scared and  ran to the house as fast as we could go. We told our father, your grandfather, but he said we spent to much time in the garden day dreaming. We were so afraid that we never went back to the garden," she said wiping a tear from her cheek.

"You never went back to the flower garden. You just stopped tending the flowers. How sad."

"We were small children. As time passed we forgot about planting flower's for our mother. By the time we both grew up, the flower garden was overrun with weeds," her aunt said, putting her arm around Mary Bell.

"After your last visit the knocking started and the flower garden came alive, as if it had been waiting for you."

Mary Bell was not a bit upset by her aunt's words. She decided that the next time her aunt took her to town, she would buy two new plants for the garden. One for her mother and one for her grandmother. "Grandfather was probably right. There's no such thing as fairies," the girl thought to herself, standing at the window, with her aunt, gazing out at the flower filled garden.

The next morning Mary Bell awoke to a knock on her door. She didn't know whether to check and see who was at her door or wait for a second knock.

"Mary Bell, I have to drive into town. Do you want to go to the flower shop?"

"Yes, Aunt Helen. I will be right down."

The car stopped in front of Miss Faith's Flower shop. Mary Bell and her aunt  bought a white, and yellow rose bushes.

"I just know mother and grandmother will love the roses," Mary Bell said, remembering the many times she and her mother had spent in her mother's flower garden.

As the old car pulled into the driveway, Mary Bell thought she saw someone standing in the garden

. "I guess the tripe to town really tired me out." She said, exiting  the car. "Can we ,please, plant the roses now? "

"Yes. Then I will go in and cook us something to eat."

"Aunt Helen, I feel bad. Dad never told me how my grandmother died. And I haven't been very nice to him, since Mom died."

"I'm sure your father understands"

As  they enter the garden, butterflies of every color seem to appear out of no where.  A blue butterfly with tiny black spots on the tips of its wings land on the older woman' shoulder. And, to Mary Bell's surprise didn't fly away when her Aunt Helen reached up and touched its out spread wings.

Both took times shoveling the holes for the new roses.

After the roses were planted, both, Mary Bell and her aunt took a set atop the old iron bench that had been in the same spot since her father and aunt were small children.






More Stories by Jan Tetstone

Brave Star

The Woman Called Heartsong

Mary Bell in the Magic Garden




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