[NOTE: This has been replaced by The Near Side of Forever]
Wordcount: 489 words
Summary: Fairytale wishes and apple pie.
Let the Jungle In
Wendy couldn’t stay in the house for long, there were too many memories crowed into too small a place. She wanted to be back at the hospital, waiting at Heather’s side, watching for that moment when everything would be alright again, but they’d sent her home. Two weeks was long enough to put her life on hold, they’d said. She resented the implication that the petty day to day things were more important, but she’d seen the hospital’s grief councilor hovering nearby and the last thing she wanted was more time in that forcefully cheerful office defending her right to grieve.
So she went out into the garden instead.
At sometime in the house’s distant past, there had been a gardener. Distant enough that by the time they’d gotten the old home as a hand-me-down, left to David in his great aunt’s will, the garden had gone wild. But it was a comforting sort of wild, and David had loved the flavor of uncontrolled chaos in the riot of flowers and mismatched trees. There was still a path of sorts, winding through a forest that was half-orchard and half-oak, made of crushed stone and shells, remnants of the fortune the Bailey’s had whittled away over the generations.
When Heather was younger, they’d had picnics in the garden, David leading them on grand adventures made up as they went along. Long lazy afternoons spent in that five acre chunk of Somewhere Else. When David had died, Heather had taken his place as storyteller without a moment’s hesitation. Dragging her mother out into the worlds they’d shared and putting her own spin on the magical lands of Velanon.
Wendy paused by the weathered apple tree, leaning back against the bark and looking up through sun-patterned leaves. The tree might have born fruit once, but there had never been apples as long as they’d lived in the house. And the stories they’d spun, finding a rainbow reasons for the lack. Wendy had always preferred the one where the tree took the place of the Wise Stranger, offering magic apples only to those who had passed his tests.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d sat there, surrounded by stories and memories, before she noticed Cat. The tabby was watching her from the path, with an intensity that perked her curiosity.
“Hey you,” she held out a hand and he only paused a moment before sauntering over to accept the offer. She still half expected him to bite her; the tom had been feral when Heather had first found him in the garden, a furry ball of claws and teeth and little else. They’d spent a lot of time together, wandering the man-made forest before Cat had lowered himself to coming inside the house. This was his feral little kingdom, and yet… She leaned backwards as he stretched forwards to sniff her face, then apparently satisfied, curled up in her lap for a nap.