In the garden of earthly delights grows a plant so powerful it could send you to an early grave. A Halloweed Ghost Story.
By Beth Mann
There lived a sad old woman on a tired old hill. Her house had once been filled with light and laughter, and cocktail parties with just the right amount of debauchery.
But when her husband passed away and her daughter grew up and left, the house dimmed and died. The plants, the mice, the termites, the peeling paint from the ceiling—all found their dreary resting places there.
One foggy night, her overworked and underpaid daughter came by for a visit. Taken aback by the bleak conditions of the decrepit house and overgrown yard, she scolded her mother.
“You look like hell, a million years old.”
“I know, I know,” the old woman responded, patting down her unkempt silver hair. “Hey, I just put on some dinner. Why don’t you stay for a spell? I’d really like the company.”
The daughter agreed, even though she couldn’t stand her mom’s cooking. She excused herself to the shed in the backyard, where she had smoked so many times in the past. After rolling a joint, she tossed the seeds into the garden, like she always had.
“Join the living,” the daughter told her mother, as she put on her coat to leave later that night. “This house is destroying you. Go find some joy!”
“I’ll try. I promise.” She kissed her daughter gently on the cheek, and sent her off into the starless night with a heavy sigh.
That week, the sad old woman did try to join the living again. She signed up for an uninspired book club, and a useless Zumba class and water aerobics at the local gym, but the people at each activity rubbed her the wrong way. That night, over a large martini, she wondered what went wrong.
People used to be more interesting, she said to no one in particular. Now they’re dull. Dull as death. Or maybe it’s me. Nope, I think it’s them, she decided, as she polished off her martini. The old woman drifted off to sleep on her well-worn couch, dreaming of strange, wonderful things she hoped would come.
As she weeded the overgrown garden the next day, she stumbled across a small patch of lush and fragrant greenery that was filled with marijuana buds the size of a baby’s arm. Pot plants, she thought, for she wasn’t born yesterday.
She cut off several sections, brought them inside and arranged them nicely in a vase. She smiled each time she looked at the glistening buds, a pleasant reminder of her oft-stoned daughter.
But like everything in the house, the plant dried up and began to die. Feeling sad about its impending demise, the woman took her husband’s old pipe off the mantel and stuffed it with a chunk of the drying plant. She took one hit, and then another. The smoke formed magical circles above her head.
With every hit, she felt the house coming back to life. Windows opened ever so slowly. Colors appeared where it had been gray. Strange music played on an unplugged stereo.
Then, a sudden, strong breeze blew in, and, along with it, the spirits that had always surrounded her appeared before her very eyes. Dead friends, family, pets, strangers—they all circled and lifted her. Floating in midair, they told her secrets and stories she’d long forgotten, sending her into convulsive fits of laughter and causing sweet tears of happiness.
Once on the floor again, she kicked off her shoes and danced like her feet were on fire all through the house, into the dusty attic and onto the pointed ridge of the roof. She jumped off and gently landed in the garden, where the magical plants cushioned her.
Back inside the house, she collapsed from exhaustion on the couch. Drifting off into a deep slumber, she heard keys in the door and bolted to her feet. Her daughter was away. Who could this be?
In walked her dead husband, as he’d done long ago so many times.
“Baby, I’m home,” he greeted her. “Will you make me a martini? I had one shitty day.”
In a stunned haze, she made him his drink, dry with a twist. As she walked toward him with glass in hand, his bright presence began to fade in and out, like an old bulb on its final flicker. She tried to hand him his drink, he couldn’t quite grasp it and the large glass crashed to the floor, breaking into little shards.
Her husband slowly moved toward her and tried to kiss her. For a few rapturous and terrifying seconds, she could almost feel his lips, but he continued to flicker and fade.
“Don’t go yet,” she plead.
“But I’m always here, my love.”
He reached out his hand and asked her to dance. The floor was covered with glass and she bled with each step. But the airy grip of her dead husband’s cold presence filled her with too much pleasure to care.
After their dance, he laid her on the glass- and blood-strewn floor, and made love to her. But like her long-deceased husband, she was now ecstatically and divinely dead.
Her daughter found her mother’s body days later. It was a horrifically bloody and bizarre scene. The daughter spotted her dad’s pipe next to her mother’s stiff body. She smelled it and knew right away that she had found her plants. How strong is this shit? she wondered. Throwing caution to the wind, she lit the pipe. The smoke was delicious; earthy and spicy with hints of vanilla and rose petals. Maybe if they’d just smoked together, this wouldn’t have happened. A wave of pot-induced paranoia set in. Was this my fault?
Just then, the gentlest of breezes blew in, surrounding her like a blanket. A soft voice whispered in her ear:
Serious kind bud. Best death ever.
Finding solace in her mother’s parting words, the daughter packed her dad’s pipe one last time in her mother’s honor. She had her own magical evening in the old house that night that she never spoke about with anyone. Who would believe her?
The next day, the pot-smoking daughter quit her mind-numbing job as a paralegal and went looking for one in Colorado as a budtender.
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