Child of the Garden

📅 Published on February 26, 2021

“Child of the Garden”

Written by N.M. Brown
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 15 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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A heavy mist rolled over the lush grass of the cemetery, muting the hues of green land and blue sky with a heavy veil of grey. The already morose atmosphere was exaggerated with the crowd of friends and family members swallowed in black clothes.  We must have looked like something out of an old black and white drama film to those late to the service.  If I hadn’t been among the first to arrive, I certainly would have thought so.  Blobs of black with white trim, growing larger and clearer with each mournful step.

I clasped my hands together respectfully, unsure of what else to do with them.  Each time I strayed from that position, I found myself doing something inappropriate for the situation: scratching at a muted mustard stain on my tie, scratching my beard; I even reached inside of my pocket for my phone once.  The words of the minister faded into a dull drone, becoming inaudible altogether once my sister Lana’s shoulders began to heave with sobs.

I felt so many emotions all at the same time, all the wrong ones.  I felt awful, awful that I didn’t understand what my sister was going through, awful that I didn’t feel more broken at his loss, awful that I couldn’t wait to get her home so I could get something to eat and put this day behind me. Nevertheless, I put my arm around her and pulled her close, ignoring the wetness of tears gathering on the front of my shirt.  As weird as it is to say, I think at the time I was honestly just relieved to finally know what to do with my hands.

Lana was on the cusp of entering the second trimester of pregnancy with her first child and the pregnancy hormones had not been kind to her.  She had gotten sick before she even bought the first test, and the relentless nausea showed no signs of subsiding.  This, accompanied by her not wanting to eat due to grief and anxiety, made for a difficult pregnancy.  I was thankful to take her in; I loved my sister.  However, I had less than no experience with grief and even less with pregnancy.  I always figured if I ever lived with a pregnant woman that I would have been the one who made her that way.  This was a different ball game entirely.

Of course, it was only natural that the death of her husband, co-parent and love of her life, accelerated her symptoms.  She and Johnny had been together since they were teenagers; high school sweethearts and all that.   He had asked our father if he could take Lana to his Senior Prom.  Despite his initial reservations due to the fact that she was only a sophomore at the time, he eventually agreed, not wanting the dazzling smile to wane from his only daughter’s beautiful face.  In some ways, I wonder if she secretly blamed him for the amount of pain she was in.  Was she ultimately thankful to have loved and lost, or did she wish to never experience any of it at all, erasing it in her mind and heart completely?

Loved ones gathered after the Reverend’s final reading, each reaching into the mound of dirt that would soon consume the outer casket of my dearly departed brother-in-law.  The mixture of petrichor and fresh flowers filled the air as they lined up to help bury their lost.  Lana clawed her bony fingers into the fresh soil, grabbing far too much for a single hand to carry.  Clumps of umber tumbled from between her fingers, though her fist was clenched so tightly that her knuckles had turned white.  She hesitated once she reached the freshly lowered casket, the gleaming white of the wood glistening in the tears in her melancholy eyes.  Her fist trembled as she realized this would be the last act of kindness and respect she could physically show towards her husband.  However, those same actions would be the ones to help seal him in the ground forever.  It didn’t seem right even to me, and I could tell Lana was beyond having a hard time of it.

Grasping my own handful of freshly unearthed land in my own palm, I walked over to stand beside my shattered sister.  I reached my hand out over the recessed hole that would be her husband’s new home and waited for her to gather the courage to do the same.  After a few moments, her eyes met mine as she held her hand out.  I nodded; we both took deep breaths and released the soil over the grave. “I’m proud of you,” I whispered to her.  “Johnny would have been, too.”  She smiled at this, and even though it was slight, I was still intensely grateful for it.

Lana’s frail figure looked downright sickly as we left the procession, arms bone-like and gangly, like a bird’s wing that had its feathers violently ripped off.  Her collarbone pressed desperately against the skin of her neck, as if desperately trying to break free.  Her knees and elbows resembled tiny nubs under the skin, connectors for the sticks and twigs that had become her arms and legs.  She looked ethereal in her grief and heartache, crying out in anguish each time her hand grazed her growing belly.  At first, I’d thought something was wrong.  Maybe this was all too much for her, and it was causing problems with the baby.  She later told me that it was the realization that the cemetery, a sad and barren place, would be the only location that her family could ever gather at.  She described wanting to have birthday parties there for her baby, then cried because she knew no one would come.  “So either his dad misses his birthday party, or no one shows up, and he’s heartbroken.”  She sighed through hitching breaths.

The air was silent and tense on the short ride home from the cemetery.  I was torn between rushing to get home and out of these stiff clothes and taking my time, knowing my sister was in no hurry to leave her husband behind in the cold, wet ground.

Lana held her breath the entire way down the length of my driveway, anxious to greet the new and unfamiliar place she’d have to learn to call home.  We walked around the yard a bit before I decided to take her inside the house.  Lana stopped to observe the garden, seeming fascinated with it.  I chuckled under my breath as she reached down into the ground and pulled up a carrot. “Hey, those aren’t…” I started to scold her but thought better of it, “ready yet.”  I let the rest of my sentence trail off in the wind as she bit into the dirt-dusted vegetable.  She reminded me of a modern Scarlett O’Hara in the field, holding her fist high and swearing she’d never go hungry again.  “I can get us a pizza,” I suggested as she walked back toward me, tiptoeing to avoid damaging any plants.

“Nah, I don’t want anything heavy sitting in the pit of my stomach.  My emotions are all over the place right now, and the last thing I want to do is puke again.”  She held up the carrot.  “This is good.  Did you do all this yourself?  Johnny and I always said we were going to plant one when we stopped renting and bought our own place.”  Her eyes welled up with a fresh reserve of tears and she held up her hand, a signal that she wasn’t ready to continue her train of thought.

I cleared my throat sympathetically.  “Well, uh…it wasn’t all me.  The land was already tilled and plotted when I moved in.  I just kinda dropped the seeds into the ground and smeared dirt over them with my foot.”  I rubbed my hand over the back of my neck, surprised to find it sun-kissed and tender from an afternoon spent under a cloudy sky.  “Let’s go inside.  You can check out the guest room I made up for you.”

I had gone out and bought pinks and purples of everything like she had in her room as a teenager.  After the bed and curtains were all set up, I’d thankfully thought better of it, opting to go with navy blues and greys instead.  We weren’t kids anymore, and as much as I was sure that she longed for a simpler time, it just made my stomach queasy thinking her walking out of a graveyard and straight into Candyland.

She seemed pleased with the room, just overwhelmingly tired.  Who the hell could blame her after all she’d been through?

It was hard to sleep that first night, the first few nights, actually.  Lana had cried herself to sleep in a room not ten feet down the hallway from my own and the walls were less than thin.  As much as I would have loved to have offered her something to help calm her down, I knew she needed to do this in her own way.  My sister had never been a fan of medicinal healing, and I didn’t want to make things worse by offering something that would be of no use to her.  Eventually, over the coming days, she was able to find a form of peace when she lay down at night, and I was glad to hear her snoring instead of sobbing every night.

That all changed the night of the lightning storm.

Tree branches scratched against my window, waking me from a sound sleep.  The wet, outside sky illuminated with lightning. I hesitated while I waited for thunder that never came.  After tossing and turning fitfully, I decided to give up the ghost and go to the kitchen for a drink.  Once I visited the restroom, I paused outside of Lana’s door.  The last thing I wanted to do was disturb her, but I figured maybe it still wouldn’t hurt to check on her.  This was one of her first nights sleeping alone in a new place during a fierce lightning storm.

Nothing but silence greeted me as I tapped my knuckles lightly on the door frame.  I peered inside, hoping to find her sleeping.  However, the bed and room were empty. She wasn’t in the bathroom; I knew this because I’d just come from there.

“Hey, Lana.  You alright?” I called out as I headed towards the kitchen, assuming that’s where I’d find her.  But my words drifted out to an empty room.  The only hint I’d received that she had been there was that the side door was left wide open, the cold and wet wind blowing streaks of moisture into the house.  Five-toed footprints led away from the back patio, followed by the imprint of the side of her foot and heel mark.

Her footsteps led me to the middle of the yard, where I found her crunched down in the middle of the garden.  Her soaking wet nightgown whipped at her ankles in the blustery wind.  She had her back to me, so I couldn’t see what she was doing at first.  It looked like she was digging at something, throwing chunks of mud over her shoulder wildly, similar to a dog catching the scent of a long lost bone and digging it up in a frenzy.  My mind flooded with worst-case scenarios. Please tell me she didn’t give birth in the middle of the night and was burying the baby among my lettuce and cucumbers, my mind screamed.

Fearing the worst, I approached her from the rear left side, maintaining a good distance between us.  As much as I wish I could say it was for her sake, I’d be lying if I did.  I took my time, because I didn’t know if I would be ready to see whatever she was doing and desperately wanted to take my time. The thought nagged at me to turn around, silently tiptoe back into the house and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen.  Lana and I would be none the wiser in the morning, and things could stay the same.  That’s not what happened, though.

I called her name a few moments after I came into her line of sight.  Her brown eyes shot up wildly, and her whole body froze like a deer in headlights.  Dark smears covered her cheeks, chin and lips, and her teeth were gnashing frantically on whatever she chewed on.  Tears ran down her face, washing clean trails down the muck spread over the lower half of her face.  She choked on whatever it was, sending brown sludge spewing from her mouth on the ground in front of her.  “Lana, what is going on?  What on earth are you doing out here?  It’s raining like crazy, and you’re soaking wet.”

“Ray?” she sputtered through slime-stained teeth.  “I pulled a radish from the garden yesterday and ate it.  Ever since then, I can’t stop thinking about the taste.  I tried fresh produce from the store, and I didn’t want any of it.  I realized now that what I wanted was the dirt.  Jesus Christ, what is wrong with me?!?”

I held up my hands in a feeble attempt to gain control of not only her emotions but the situation as a whole.  “First off, is the baby okay?”

Her hands flew to her stomach in a panic.  “Yeah.  I mean, I think so.  He kicked me not five minutes ago.  Why?”  She stood up and twirled around, searching the ground in front of her dreadfully.  “I’m not bleedin’, am I?”

“No!  Nothing like that.  I just got scared.  I thought maybe something bad happened, and you had the baby early?” I admitted ruefully.

“So you thought I’d just hobble out here in my nightgown and bury my baby in the middle of the night?” she demanded incredulously.  “You watch too much ID Discovery channel.  That’s what’s wrong with you.”  With that, she strode past me and into the house, leaving an angry set of muddy footprints for me to clean up in her wake.

People could call me a lot of things, but unsupportive was not one of them.  I’d gotten her the most organic vegetables that I could find, cooked up mushrooms for her with the dirt they grew in still dusted on them; hell, I even downloaded Pinterest and made her one of those graveyard cakes.  You know the ones.  They have chocolate cake on the bottom, pudding in the middle and crushed up Oreos on top to represent dirt.  After it’s set up, you insert little gummy worms for added effect, texture and taste.  I hoped the childishness of it all would cheer her up at least.  As much as she loved it, she gagged in revulsion after only two bites, just as she had with everything else I’d presented her with.

Two gratefully uneventful weeks later, it happened again.  I woke up to the eerie sight of Lana’s empty bed and my side door wide open, leaving my house completely vulnerable and unprotected.  I was a little less freaked out this time but all the more worried.  Her next appointment with the doctor was still three days away, and I had no idea what kind of effects the ingestion of dirt had on a growing fetus.

Something was different this time.  A crunching sound resonated from between her teeth, a sound that I knew dirt couldn’t make.  She held something unidentifiable in her hands, gripping it tightly as she ripped pieces from it with her teeth.

A four-fingered hand stuck sideways in the dirt, the missing digit eventually being gruesomely identified as the thing in my sister’s ravenous clutches.  The meat attached tore away semi-easily and she sucked on the bits that clung to the bone like she was eating Buffalo wings.  The sounds alone were enough to drive someone to nausea and great mental discomfort.  “Oh-oh my God, Lana…” I stammered.

She dropped the bone she held in her hand, spitting out a detached fingernail into the dirt at her feet before addressing me directly.  “I couldn’t stop,” she began.  “Is he…” she paused, as if she wasn’t sure she wanted the answer to the question she was about to ask.  “Is he someone you knew?”

I jumped back, my feet sliding slightly in the mud around me.  “Someone I knew?!?  No.  No, he isn’t.”  I gestured to the mound of dirt she was still squatting in front of.  “You can’t have thought that I did this!” I demanded, my voice shaky with offense and shock.

“Well, it sure as hell wasn’t me!  I can barely put my own shoes on by myself, let alone burying a body half-assed underneath your growing garden.  No…Whoever did this put him here before you started planting.”

“How did I not notice it while digging before?”

“With all the rain we’ve had this month, there was bound to be erosion of the soil, more than you could have caused yourself by digging.”

“We need to call the police,” I stated.

“Yeah, sure, Ray, and say what?  ‘Hi, can you please send someone out?  I just found my sister eating the body that’s buried in the garden of my backyard.’  We are both just as screwed here.  That’s a child protective services wet dream, not to mention all of the questioning and possible prison time for a murder that neither of us committed.”

Another thought entered my mind, pushing everything else over the precipice of vital importance.  “So, it’s not the dirt you’re craving, but…” I paused, grabbing a lump of fat from my arm between my thumb and forefinger, “…this?”  I gagged in spite of myself, not wanting to hurt my sister’s feelings.  I knew better than to make her uncomfortable by waiting for an answer that we both already knew.

A few days later, Lana and I took a walk around the town plaza to get her out of the house and expose her to some much-needed fresh air and socialization.  Someone had run over a squirrel in one of the pathways that we had to cross to get to the other row of shops.  Lana froze in place the instant she saw it.  The corners of her mouth twitched before she wiped them on the sleeve of her shirt, the fabric coming away from her mouth dark and wet.  Strings of drool poured through her lips as she struggled to keep it in her mouth.  She seemed to be producing it faster than she could swallow it back down.  When she tried to spit it out, it only made it worse.  Her eyes looked at me through tears of shame and panic as we made our way back to the car.

Once inside, Lana began to cry uncontrollably.  “Oh my God, Ray.  I wanted it; I wanted it so bad.”

I looked at her in confusion, appreciative of the fact that her salivating had ceased.  “Wanted what, exactly?”

“The squirrel.  I wanted to eat that damned squirrel, worse than I’ve wanted to eat anything in my whole entire life.”  She cried in anguish.  My sister refused to leave the house much after that.

My mind wrestled on what to do for the entire next couple of weeks.  There had only been one instance where I’d heard Lana leave her bedroom and creep out the side door in the middle of the night.  One which I’d left uninvestigated.  The pros and cons of each decision were endless, and the pressure was quickly mounting.  The prospect of involving anyone of an authoritative capacity terrified me, if I was honest.  Not to mention the idea of my niece or nephew growing up an orphan.  To have lost their father before they were ever born was one thing.  To sever the emotional and biological link altogether by losing both parents was just too much to bear.  And I’ve never really been too crazy about children.  More than anything, I just wanted it all to go away.

And it did, in a way…for a little while, at least.  I awoke from a nightmarish sleep to the blissful smell of cinnamon and sausage wafting from the kitchen.  Lana was not only feeling better but awake and cooking breakfast.  My heart soared at the bit of normalcy after such a bizarre and heart-wrenching month.  “Hey, kiddos,” I joked, gesturing towards her pregnant stomach.  “How are we doing this morning?”

“As better as I can be,” she answered.  “My stomach feels settled enough to eat something normal for once.”

“No…erm, odd cravings then?”

Her cheeks blanched slightly as she shook her head in confirmation.  “Oh, Ray, what are we gonna do about the garden?”

“I’ve actually been thinking a lot about that.  I say we move the hell out of here the first chance we get, find somewhere that’s a little bigger for you and the baby to have more space to thrive and grow.  Let the body be someone else’s problem, just like the previous tenant left it to be our problem,” I explained matter-of-factly.  “In fact, I’ve already started looking here and there.”  Relief flooded her features as she sat a steaming plate of food down in front of me.

Her labor was arduous but swift.  We had been through so much together in such a short time, none of which either of us was ready for.  I was hopeful that the birth of the baby would bring an anticlimactic end to it all – no more cravings, no more dead bodies, just a normal life.

I found myself counting the ceiling tiles in the waiting area to keep me occupied in the meantime, mildly put off by how many of the nurses assumed I was the child’s father.  They wore looks of judgment and disgust as I refused their offers to accompany Lana in the delivery room, opting for the waiting area instead.  Sure, I could have gone through the whole song and dance of explaining how my brother-in-law died, leaving my pregnant sister a grieving widow and that I took her in to help give her a sense of stability and family during this hard and trying time.  But I was tired, so very tired.  My mind was filled with things that didn’t make sense, things that I wished to God and the Devil didn’t exist. If absorbing their judgment was the price I paid for the peace of silence, well, then that was just fine by me.

By the time they allowed me back to see her, the baby was just being dried off from its first bath.  It was a beautiful baby, a boy she requested to be named Jonathan Raymond: Jonathan after his late father, and, of course, Raymond after me.  I didn’t think that I deserved the honor, but at least she didn’t name him Jeffrey, right?

The color had mostly returned to my sister’s face; she was no longer the sallow ghost of a woman that had graced my home for the past five months.  Lana’s attending nurse came in to take her vitals and deliver her dinner tray a couple of hours after I’d arrived.  Baby Jonathan had just fallen asleep in my arms, and a nurse had just helped Lana take her first postpartum shower.  My breath caught in my throat as I waited for my sister to regard the food in front of her.  The plastic lid was lifted away as it was set down on the table tray in front of her.  Cutlets of chicken breast sat in a golden-colored sauce with broccoli and plain rice accompanying it on the side tray areas.  She was given a small carton of chocolate milk and a sealed plastic cup of juice, reminiscent of our school lunches as children.

Thankfully, after a few pokes and prods of trepidation, she inhaled the food with relief as she took her first bite.  “Holy hell, this is good,” she beamed through a mouthful of food.  The entire tray was gone in a matter of minutes, despite me suggesting she slow down so she didn’t take the risk of tasting it all twice.  I’d figured she’d done enough vomiting for a good while, and was more than sure that she agreed.

Just then, the baby woke up and began cooing while I held him close.  He turned his head until his mouth met the tip of my finger.  “You’re not gonna get anything outta there, little guy,” I joked, the first of what I hoped would be many between cheeky uncle and nephew.  Something in the way he looked at me unnerved me.  They say that babies don’t have clear vision until they’re at least a year old, but Jonathan was looking at me.  His mouth mashed down on my finger voraciously, aggravating a cut I’d suffered while patching some of the holes Lana had dug the morning before.  An almost infinitesimal amount of blood trickled onto his lip before he wiped it away, a lucky reflex that he had no control of yet seemed to go exactly where necessary.

The moment he tasted the blood, I swear to God and all that is unholy…he smiled.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by N.M. Brown
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: N.M. Brown


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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