by Deren Hansen
When the neighbor ladies come by, they always say what a nice garden my mom has. They go to the window or lean over the fence and say, "What lovely tomatoes," or "My, your pumpkins are doing well."
I say, "Don’t go in the garden. It’s not safe."
They pretend not to hear or say that weeding in such a nice garden is good for me.
But that's not what I'm talking about. You see, it's not a nice garden.
Oh, I know why they say it's nice: with the butterflies fluttering and the birds hopping in and out of the green leaves, it looks pretty.
But looks can be deceiving.
Once, some kids got in the back yard. I saw them from the upstairs window. I ran down to shout at them, not because I was mad, but to warn them before it was too late. When I got to the door, they were gone.
I know there's something out there hiding under the leaves—something terrible that gets bigger every day.
It watches me whenever mom makes me go out with her. The leaves move when it thinks I'm not looking, but I'm on to it: I've seen it disappearing into the green shadows out of the corner of my eye dozens of times.
It's probably there on account of the space aliens that came down when the moon was full. I heard them outside and when I looked out the window the garden was lit up with a green glow. Ever since, it hasn't been safe to go out in my mom's garden.
You might think it's the killer tomatoes. I step on every one that falls, just to be sure.
And the pumpkins are getting big, but they won't have teeth until October.
No, there's only one thing it can be. My mom made a terrible mistake. I told her not to, but she just had to plant zucchini.
She says she picks it when it's young and small, but I know she's missed a few of them and now they're probably about seven feet long.
So if you ever come over and find yourself face to face with giant, mutant, killer zucchini, remember, I warned you: it's not safe to go out in my mom's garden.
Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.