She had a dream that started with work. She was hired by some kind of forest witch to weed a garden in exchange for room and board in her cottage. It stood at the edge of a glade specked with yellow and purple flowers, paint spatter against lacy green leaves, swaths of blue sky. From the minute she saw it, she never wanted to leave. She got this sense as she pulled dandelions and shepherd’s purse from the soft ground, collecting them in a basket for tea. She never saw the witch but knew the tea would be made and set on the kitchen table, along with two cups, one already having been filled and emptied.
She kept wanting to go walk around in the glade, but there seemed to be an endless amount of weeding to do. The weeds would shoot up again overnight right where she’d picked them the day before, and through notes written in charcoal on skin-like paper, she knew the witch would not be happy if the weeds were left to grow, even for a day. How quickly they would take over the garden at this rate. So she continued to weed, watching the wind ripple through the sunlit grass, wafting the aroma of daisy and verbena her way.
The weeds grew faster and faster. Soon, she could not sleep, or even step away from the garden, or the weeds would reach up and strangle the belladonna and chamomile, the cucumbers and tomatoes. She began to have waking dreams where the glade called to her in a voice like the wind in the grass. She feared she might one day stand up and leave the garden, be lured inescapably to that place that had been calling to her for so long, the place she’d come here to explore. She realized she didn’t care what would happen to the garden if she left her post. What scared her was what the witch would do to her.
The witch’s notes got more threatening, and she began to notice how much like her own the witch’s handwriting was.
The weeds continued to grow faster and faster. They climbed up her arms as she pulled them up by the roots, and didn’t stop even when they no longer had hold of the ground. They wrapped around her throat, pulsing with inextinguishable life against her tired throat. As she ripped through them with her fingers, she stared out at the glade. Slowly, thin green stems crawled across her field of vision, weaving themselves like a basket over her eyes.