Community Garden

(The entire script is written in the format of STACEY’S weekly emails to her mom. Each entry begins with a typing sound that fades out after a moment.)

(STACEY is in her twenties, a recent transplant to Cape Cod. She’s lonely and wants to make friends in her new town.)

Week 1

STACEY

Hi Mom! 

Good news! Remember how I was on the waitlist for a plot at the community garden? Well, someone vacated theirs and I was up next on the list! I don’t know exactly what happened, but I have to assume they moved or something. But even though it’s a little late in the season, I have a spot!

I went down there for the first time this morning. It’s a beautiful spot, close enough to the beach that you can hear the ocean while you’re working. My plot is right in the middle so I’m right in the thick of it. And it’s exactly what I hoped a community garden would be! Lots of people from all different backgrounds sharing resources and bonding over their plants. I’m so excited to really the join the community, especially since I’ve had so much trouble meeting people here. Between work and no longer living near Boston, making friends has been harder than I thought. I know you and I talked about it last time i was home and I think this will be a good thing for me. 

My plot is apparently between two other women. I didn’t meet either of them today but I’ll be going back later this week so hopefully I’ll meet them then. 

I was eyeing their plots though. One of them was a pretty standard late-spring garden. Lots of strawberries and flowers blooming and some other plants on their way. It reminded me a lot of your garden, just scaled down a lot. 

The plot on the other side was strange though. I can’t even tell you what was going on. It’s just these tall, spiky plants. Like ten of them or so. And nothing else. No herbs or vegetables. Just those spiky plants that don’t even have flowers on them. I didn’t recognize them though, so maybe they just haven’t bloomed yet. We’ll see.

Anyway, I have to go get some work done. Love you! Talk to you next week!

-Stacey

Week 2

STACEY

Hi Mom! 

I hope everything’s going well there. I loved the pictures you sent of your garden. The chamomile looks absolutely lovely!

I managed to get my plot planted at the community garden. I wish I had been able to start earlier, but I got some seedlings at the Home Depot and they should have enough time to thrive. There’s some hardier herbs, kale, and some flowers. I also couldn’t resist putting in a tomato plant. I know you’re not supposed to do that yet, but they had them and they just smelled so good. So I completely caved. Don’t scold me in your reply!

I met both of the women beside me in the lot. The one with the strawberries is Tina. She’s really friendly and actually reminds me a lot of you. She welcomed me to the garden, offered me some of her strawberries (which were amazing) and was just really nice. I hope our schedules line up a lot this summer because I really enjoyed chatting with her.

The other woman, the one with the weird spiky plants, not so much. She’s Nadine and she’s just kind of grouchy. Not mean, I guess? But gruff. She barely said a single thing to me when I saw her. And that thing was to shut off the hose if I was done with it. I don’t know, I guess there’s always going to be people like that wherever you go. I’ll just mind my own business and hope that she does the same. 

I hope your week’s going well! See you soon!

Love,

Stacey

Week 3

STACEY

Hi Mom!

Thank you so much for the care package! The chocolates are long gone, but I’ve been savoring the bottle of wine. My apartment looks out over the ocean and there’s nothing better than sitting out on the balcony with a glass of wine, watching the tide roll in under the full moon. 

Also, thank you for confirming I’m not boring you to tears with all the talk about the community garden. I’m realizing it’s actually kind of a strange place. Or maybe it’s just Nadine who makes it strange. It’s weird, I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s hostile, at least to me. She’s gruff and grumpy and doesn’t like to talk. But she did offer me some seeds the other day. Nothing I recognized and she was vague on what they were. But since her entire plot is full of those ugly, spiky plants, I have to assume it was for those. I tried to refuse gracefully, but she left them on top of my bag when she left. They were in a little cloth sack and I just stuck them in my bag and forgot about them until tonight. 

But if she’s strange but fine with me, she’s straight up nasty to Tina, the woman on the other side of me. She won’t say anything to her face, but you should see the looks Nadine gives her when she shows up at the garden. Yesterday I was actually getting nervous about how aggressive Nadine was being. And the fact that Tina was clearly sick made it even worse. I don’t know if there’s some kind of history there and I’m trying not to get involved, but I’m literally stuck between them. 

At least Tina’s friendly. She wasn’t around much this week so I was getting a little concerned. But she showed up yesterday and today and we had some nice talks about the area. She’s lived on the Cape her whole life and knows all the good places to go. She said to go now and avoid the tourist rush that’s starting later this month. But honestly, I’m kind of looking forward to summer and the rush of people. With Memorial Day weekend coming up, this town will be swamped. Maybe it’ll get old, but I’ll enjoy it for now.

Call me this week and we’ll figure out when you’re going to come visit!

Love,

Stacey

Week 4

STACEY

Hi Mom!

So you know how last week I was all excited for tourist season? I’m a weekend in and I can see why it gets old for the locals. Not a bad holiday weekend, but everywhere I went was crowded and I half expected to see a tour group in my living room at some point. 

Things have slowed down slightly during the week. I’m mostly spending my time outside work at the garden. My plants are coming in nicely, but I’m also a little obsessive I guess. At least compared to some of the others. I don’t know if they went on vacation or just lost interest or what, but there are at least three plots that have started to shrivel up. The people who are planting on them have just up and disappeared. I guess everyone has the right to spend their summer as they want, but that just seems selfish. There were a lot of people who wanted plots this year and now it’s too late to get anyone else in there. Oh well, maybe they’ll come back and clean up. Maybe it’s just a long holiday or something.

More drama in our little slice of paradise too. Nadine and Tina almost came to blows today. I don’t know what happened or who started it because I had headphones in and was pretty engrossed in the podcast episode I was listening to. But then out of the corner of my eye I saw Nadine go flying past my plot and toward Tina. I didn’t see what Tina said or did, it all happened so fast. But then Nadine stalked off. Maybe she will join the crowd that’s not coming back, haha.

I thought Tina would be upset, but she seemed like she just shook it off. Again, must be one hell of a history there.

I’m wiped, so I’m going to cut this short and head to bed. Love you!

Love,

Stacey

Week 5

STACEY

Hi Mom!

No, I don’t know the girl who went missing. That’s so sad and scary! There are some missing posters up around town, but the older people at the coffee shop earlier were saying this is a somewhat regular thing, especially on holiday weekends. They said people party on the weekends, go for a drunken late night swim, and the riptide pulls them out before they even know what’s happening. So sad.

Speaking of missing people, none of the gardeners I mentioned last week have come back either. Their plots are shriveled now, probably past the point of saving. I don’t actually know any of them anymore than by sight, but after the girl, I’m a little more concerned.

I did ask Tina about it yesterday. It was a rare, quiet day without Nadine there to tend her weird plants. Which now have little blue buds on them, by the way. I’m going to need to remember to take a picture and send it to you at some point. But yeah, I asked Tina and she said she didn’t know. She said they probably just went on vacation. All three of them at the same time sounds odd, but what do I know? I’ve lived here less than six months.

I did also ask if she knew what Nadine’s plants were. She told me she didn’t know, but I’m not sure she was telling the truth. Something about her face when she said it. I can’t quite describe what I saw there, but it makes me think that this feud they’ve got isn’t entirely one sided. Which makes me feel even weirder about being in between them. 

Maybe as much as I love gardening, a community garden isn’t the place for me. Oh well, lesson learned for next year.

Though I’m not going to up and disappear. I put time and money into this plot and I am going to get my flowers and vegetables out of it!

Alright, off to bed. Love you!

Love,

Stacey

Week 6

STACEY

Hi Mom,

So…interesting turn of events. It turns out that Nadine is, in fact, absolutely insane. And I’m not sure what to do.

I’ll start from the beginning, and I swear that every word of this is true. So I was at the garden and it was only me and Nadine there. No one else in the entire garden. Which was far, far from ideal. But I was hoping I could just put on some headphones and get my work done.

Of course not.

As soon as I got there, Nadine swoops in and asks me where I planted the seeds. I had completely forgotten about them until right that moment and I told her that. She wasn’t happy, but she said that it might not be too late, that they might still bloom in the early fall. I told her I’d think about it, then put on my headphones. That got her to leave me alone for a little while. But then I looked up and saw her glaring at Tina’s plot with this look of absolute disgust and hate in her eyes. And the words slipped out before I could even try to stop them.

“Why do you hate her so much?”

Oh my God, Mom, I wanted to shove the words right back into my mouth the second they were out. Nadine froze and I considered just running away. But then she turned to me with this deadly serious face and she goes, “There’s something you need to know. Tina is responsible for the disappearances around here. The girl, them,” (She pointed toward the dead plots) “And so many more.”

Of course, I had no idea how to respond to that. But then she kept going. “Tina is a werewolf.”

She said it so matter of factly. Tina is a werewolf. She might as well have been saying “Tina is a teacher” or “Tina’s bringing the napkins.” 

So of course I said nothing. Because I had nothing to say. So after a moment of me looking at her with a blank look on my face, she just sighed and said she knew I wouldn’t believe her. Then she stormed out of the garden.

So yeah, that’s where I stand right now. My plot neighbor thinks my other plot neighbor is a goddamn werewolf, she’s gotten me involved in it, and I am never participating in a community garden ever again.

Though, the fact that I was alone in the garden did finally give me an opportunity to get a picture of her plants. They’re flowering now and I’m attaching the picture. Do you know what they are? I hate to admit it, but they are pretty now. I like the shape of the bloom, it looks like a bonnet.

Your extremely unnerved and frustrated daughter,

Stacey

Week 7

(This time instead of typing, it’s the beep of an answering machine before Stacey starts talking.)

STACEY

Hi Mom! It feels kind of weird leaving a voicemail instead of emailing, but it’s necessary.

I should have been more surprised when I got your phone call, but honestly, I almost felt like I was expecting it. Thank you for identifying the flower for me. I’ve had to tread carefully to confirm it and decide what I was going to do about it, but I think everything is over now.

So the thing with wolfsbane is that if every part of it is toxic, then Nadine must be taking unusual precautions. And after observing her for a couple days, she was. I’d never noticed how long her gardening gloves were, or the way she brought her clippings home with her. I’m a little mad she decided to play cryptic when handing me a bag of poisonous seeds. But again, it’s her. I burned the seeds immediately after we talked the other night, by the way.

But the garden was a bigger problem. First of all, the organizers clearly don’t have any issue with Nadine growing poisonous plants in a community garden. So it’s not like I can go to them about it. I would have asked Tina, but she wasn’t there the past few days. Plus, how do I go up to someone and say, that woman who hates you thinks you’re a werewolf? And also she’s growing a poison specifically meant to kill werewolves without sounding like you’re insane yourself? And Nadine has been avoiding me. She saw me walk in and left immediately. So that leaves just me.

So here’s what I did. The gates at the community garden lock at sundown, but there was enough moonlight to see by. I waited until I was sure everyone had left, then I went back and I gutted Nadine’s plot. I wore thick gloves and a mask and I tore up every bit of wolfsbane I could find. Then I pulled up my own plot, just in case any had gotten in there too. I put it all in a massive trash bag, brought it out into the woods a few towns over, and torched it. I’m going to leave an anonymous tip with the Barnstable police and then get the hell out of town. I’ll call you when I’m closer to home. Right now I’m walking back to my car and I’m just going to keep talking for a moment because it is really dark and really creepy. 

(faint howling in the distance)

I know it’s just my imagination running away with me after all the talk of werewolves, but there are a lot of coyotes out tonight. They sound…different than usual. A little unearthly.

(howling again, this time closer and with an unearthly timbre)

Alright, I’m getting to my car now. I’ll be in touch. 

(STACEY gets in her car, shuts the door, and turns it on. She starts to drive as another howl sounds nearby.)

STACEY

Mom? I, um, I’m afraid I might have made a mistake.

END