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  • Pruned

    Hey guys, I found this a while back! It's the first chapter of a name-less novel I had started writing. A mystery surrounding an elderly British woman. Anyway, I'd be interested to see what you think.

    Pruned

    Mavis is as pruned as a rose, but she herself has thorns. She hadn't always had them, they'd only recently become a prominent feature, but they were there. Thick, pointed thorns, which would soon pierce her family and bleed sorrow, and hidden truths.

    *

    From her bay window in the front of her rural home, she would watch; staring blankly with milky eyes, observing sly gazes from passing neighbours. She would move houses but she had done nothing wrong, yet everyone seemed to believe she had. In addition to this she had roots in Little Pittington, deep roots exceeding three generations of once flourishing relatives; now wilted. The ties to the small village that concerned her nowadays however were her husband, Fred, her daughter Marie, and Marie's daughter Drew. Even they however, knew something Mavis didn't, and out of everyone in Little Pittington, they would be the soil from which the darkness and secrets would grow. They were set to be the vine that would suffocate Mavis. They would be the catalyst, they would be the reason. Mavis' secret was going to bloom; it is only when the dew falls that you really notice the cobwebs.

    *

    So she prunes. Every Tuesday morning she religiously kneels. Her tool belt, gloves and apron; her weapons, her armour. Smiling in the spring sunshine she hobbles to the bush at the back of the garden. Sinking to her knees and resting her weight on a stool, she smiles at her spawn. Her true children, the roses. She crinkles her face into an apologetic frown and applies her secateurs to the stems.
    The sunlight beams a translucent red tint on to her face, as a sudden rush of coldness jitters her old bones. This small moment of realisation, of confusion, that what she was pruning was not a bed of roses, but a grave. The clue; a fingernail. A small blue nail, un-noticeable except for its incongruous colour amidst the scarlet petals of the roses.
    Mavis, discarding her secateurs to the grass along with her marigolds, adopts a feline perceptiveness and attitude. She digs gingerly with her veined fingers, one circled by a ring Fred had given her almost fifty years ago next month; gold. She breathes softly, unsure of what she would find. A tortured doll of her grand daughter's, laid to rest, no longer enduring a world of make believe facades and tea parties? No, a naive thought. Drew had not been round for months. Marie thought her mother a bad influence and did not look fondly on her bohemian lifestyle. Apparently, Mavis did not help develop Drew's already slightly distorted mind...
    Why was Mavis musing about her family, and why did these thoughts seem so familiar? The ring, the doll, the bohemian lifestyle. They plague her as she feels the earth slip and slide between her fingertips. As she digs, a repressed latent instinct about her family drives her to dig deeper. It's almost as if she knows that if she continues, as much as it scares her, it will lead to some sort of release. Everything will fall into place, everything will be ok. It's not until she blinks that she realises. She sees what has been unearthed before her; the apparent random musings come to an end...
    A hand. The blue fingernail, unsurprisingly belonged to a hand. Mavis recoils her own and wipes it on her pristine apron and peers closer. The hand looks rotten, fading in recognition as anatomically human. The end of the hand butchered by a desperate serrated knife. The nails look short and bitten, one of them missing altogether bearing rare and raw flesh. The fingers themselves are wrinkled and worn; without youth, life lacking in the fading veins. Mavis' eyes come across something extraordinary, a ring. The same ring she had given Fred almost fifty years ago next month; gold?
    A tear fills her eye and she looks back to the kitchen to see her Fred sat in the lounge. He's peering over the Daily Mail, as he religiously did on a Tuesday morning. As he turns the page his wedding ring glistens in the sunshine...the same one. Mavis gulps and looks back at her children quickly, feeling guilty. She loved her roses, and she liked to think they loved her, but did they love her enough to retain this secret? Without questioning them, she covers the earth rapidly over the hand and pats the earth back down. She looks at her roses and smiles, before standing and moving away towards the house, humming a jaunty tune.
    This was one secret that she wasn't ready to know, just like she wasn't ready to know last Tuesday...
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