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Inside the Dragon | 2014 | What Big Feet You Have


Fear is a cloak which old men huddle about their love, as if to keep it warm.  

-William Wordsworth


Left in the Garden

Left in the garden

Amber told me I could go, that she would be perfectly safe planting chamomile in her unguarded plot in the formerly community garden. The previous organizer abandoned it to focus on his other gardens, taking with him its protections and tools, irrespective if they belonged to him. Amber had contacted a reporter about this and was scheduled to talk to him in a few days.

The sun had already set and darkness rapidly fell over Red Hook. But it's a safe place, I thought. Unlike in my books, no horrors wander the streets below the notice of humankind, waking to prey upon the unwary and ignorant. Red Hook is a town where most people one passes on the street will offer a friendly wave, even if they have never seen you before.

The following day, we were to meet with Rhianna, the officiant for our summer wedding. Amber and I had been delighting to perfect our ceremony, making it uniquely ours from the files Rhianna had sent us. I was so excited to know that this wedding is coming closer to actually happening, that Amber wouldn't sit me down and confess she isn't ready. It wasn't completely easy for me to come to embrace the idea of a wedding, however much I love being with Amber, but I had finally done that.

We went to the garden together on bikes I had just bought for us, hers with a milk crate attached so she could carry plants and groceries. Her bike was a late Valentine's Day present, mine was simply bought in the awareness that repairing my old bike would cost more than the price of a new one. If I had only let us take her car or if we still walked to the garden, there would have been no excuse to leave her there that night. I would have sat and waited until she was satisfied with her planting and we could return, hand-in-hand and talking of nothing.

I call and call her phone when one hour stretches to many. She never answers and I wish I had some means of tracking where her phone is, as they would on television. I finally call the police or they just show up at my door, whichever is more dramatic. They can't find her and find it rather suspicious that I write books about disappeared young women and murderous creatures, dredging up old entries I wrote with tongue firmly in cheek, though they eventually concede that I am likely innocent of whatever happened to her given how eagerly I allow them to paw through our things for clues, though it is plain to me that evidence would be in the former community garden. Usually, the domestic partner has something to do with a disappearance, they tell me-at least according to my grasp of criminology via Law & Order. There should be no avenue left unharassed in the search, though.

Amber quickly becomes a sort of martyr-in-absentia in Red Hook. The fence that was torn down in the space of a night is replaced and the community plants flowers in her honor, once the reporter writes a thorough detailing of her disappearance.

It is all my fault that she is missing or hurt. If only I had stayed beside her in her unprotected garden, I could have kept her safe. Instead, I abandoned her to the elements so I could clean the apartment a little before she returned home, so I could prove that I trust her judgment and the safety of Red Hook.

Of course, none of that happened. I emptied the dishwasher and picked up around the apartment, doing my best not to call to reveal the depths of my paranoia except for once, after it is quite dark out, and she picks it up to reveal she is pushing her bicycle up our driveway. By the time she allays my fears, telling me the only excitement to be had was a sedate frog in the road she shooed to safety, I have blocked the scene where a hardnosed detective interrogates me with suspicion in his eyes and a cigarette smoldering in an ashtray my apartment has never contained. It is the curse of being a novelist that I not only can spin a worrying yarn for myself, but can point out every bit of melodramatic foreshadowing that led to tragedy.

Soon in Xenology: The perils of poverty. Praise and negotiation.

last watched: Ender's Game
reading: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
listening: Jenny Dalton

Inside the Dragon | 2014 | What Big Feet You Have

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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