A GARDEN AT THE HAUNTED HOUSE, AND PHOEBE MEETS JEREMY
The following morning Phoebe joined Glenda in her kitchen. She was scurrying around preparing sandwiches.
“I can’t wait to taste one of those tomatoes,” said Phoebe. “Where do you get them?”
“Oh… ah…” replied Glenda, obviously flustered. “Uh, Abby brought them.”
They stared at each other in confusion. I should have seen this coming, thought Phoebe. There’s something secret about these vegetables, and Abby must be a part of it.
“Oh, maybe Abby has a garden,” Phoebe replied casually. “I remember the apple trees she planted in the high school courtyard.”
Glenda stopped cutting cheese and tomatoes and looked across the room at Tiny, who was engaged in a conversation with two little wooden figures in her hands. To her surprise, Phoebe recognized a figure of the Good Fairy that must have been carved by her father.
Reassured that Tiny was not listening, Glenda spoke in a low voice. “You’ve got to be careful talking about Abby. I’m worried about her sometimes. I’m afraid if people find out what she does, they’ll think she’s weird. I mean people already think she’s weird, but I don’t think that’s fair. I like her.”
“”Ohhh,” returned Phoebe, feeling a little insensitive. “I know she had a strange reputation in high school. But I think it’s cool that she grows these amazing things.”
“Me too!” Glenda perked up. “Abby drops by from time to time with a sack of vegetables and fruits like nothing you’ve ever seen before. She grows them in a garden somewhere near that old abandoned house at the end of Bridge Avenue.”
“The haunted house?”
“Is that what you call it?”
“The one that’s back in the forest. The road is dirt when you get there. You won’t believe some of the things she brings us.” She grabbed a long green vegetable like a cucumber or a zucchini from a bag on the table. “Watch this,” she said, and rolled it back and forth between her palms for half a minute. Then she cut off the tip and handed it to Phoebe. “Squeeze it and drink it through the top. Go ahead, it’s good.”
Phoebe took it between her lips and drew out a sweet liquid with a smell like cucumbers and a lemony flavor. It had the consistency of slush, like a snow cone, but without the crunchiness of ice. By squeezing the vegetable her mouth was flooded with the drink.
“See what I mean? Tiny loves these. No need for box juices or those sugary ice pops.”
They packed the food and Tiny’s toys and piled into the pick up truck. Glenda headed toward the highway. Near the intersection she pulled into her brother Jim’s gas station. As he was filling the tank Phoebe saw someone looking at her from the garage door. He appeared young, perhaps a teenager, with long legs and bright eyes. His gaze held Phoebe’s. She decided to visit the office and buy a soda from the vending machine. Tiny insisted on joining her.
Inside the large cluttered office she noticed something new: a ladder leading to a loft that cut off the high ceiling. There’s a new room up there, she observed, and saw a nice looking guitar leaning on the painfully dilapidated old couch. That guitar, thought Phoebe, that loft… can mean only one thing.
At that moment the boy with long legs appeared at the door to the garage. He wore an odd little reddish jacket and jeans tight at the ankle. His hands were dark with automobile grease.
“Jeremy!” screamed Tiny, and leaped into his arms.
“No!” he yelled, but had to catch Tiny with both hands, leaving dark grease marks on Tiny’s pale tee shirt. He looked up at Phoebe in embarrassment.
“I’m always making a mess of things,” he said.
“I thought I was the one doing that,” she told him. “I’m Phoebe.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Jeremy. Can’t shake hands.”
“That’s okay. Working with Jim?”
“Yeah, I’m his cousin.”
Tiny, suddenly still, watched with intense interest.
“Here for a while?” asked Phoebe.
Jeremy looked up with hope in his eyes. “I’d like to stay. I really would.”
“Why don’t you then?”
Suddenly Jim swung the door open to say that Glenda was ready to go.