Marigold dragged two large suitcases behind her, staggering under the weight of the backpack, which was almost as big as she was tall. She had her eye on her prize: the bright pink house halfway up the hill from where the bus had just dropped her after an overnight trip.
What felt like hours later, she stood at the gate and looked up at the facade, the name of the house in white, stony letters above the front door: Flora.
“So this will be our home for the next four years,” a voice said behind Marigold.
She turned to see three women also studying the house. For a moment, relief flooded through Marigold when she noticed she wasn’t the only one bringing all her worldly possessions with her.
“Come on, y’all!”
In one motion, they all turned back towards the house. Six women stood smiling and waving on the veranda.
Still feeling like she didn’t belong here, Marigold followed the others. Hours later, that feeling had disappeared. She stood under the shower of one of the five bathrooms and smiled.
Daisy, Rose, Lily, Jasmin, Violet, Iris, Poppy, Hyacinth, Ivy, and her, Marigold.
Those were the ten young women who were now the inhabitants of this off-campus student house. The moment they all had introduced themselves earlier, their nervousness eased when they realized they all had flower names and lived in a house called Flora.
And not only that, they all came from similar backgrounds, being the first in their families to go to studying. Having their applications to live in Flora accepted gave them all the feeling life had handed them a second chance.
The young women all settled nicely in their routines of following classes at uni, studying, and building their social lives. Every evening, the ten of them sat around the large round table, having dinner, chatting and laughing and sharing experiences from their days.
Harmony reigned in Flora.
Until it didn’t.
A piercing scream cut the air one hot summer night.
Marigold jumped out of bed and followed the others. She was the last to enter Poppy’s room. Jasmin held Poppy in her arms, and Lily hovered nearby.
“What happened?” Violet asked.
“A… I… man… I… window.”
Some of them looked confused, not understanding Poppy’s muffled, confusing words, but Marigold had caught the gist of it. When the others caught on, they assured Poppy she must’ve been dreaming, her room being on the first floor. This seemed to calm her down.
Marigold stood at the window. Was there someone out there?
Hyacinth appeared next to her and peered into the darkness too.
“You also think she might really have seen a man at the window?” Hyacinth asked, glancing sideways at Marigold, who nodded.
When Poppy had calmed down, they all went back to their rooms.
A week later, it happened again. This time, Daisy had spotted a man outside her window. She, however, didn’t scream, but just pedestal out of bed and loudly knocked on her neighbor’s door. It took a while to rouse Iris and the rest of the house.
When they all went back to Daisy’s room, there was nothing to be seen. Once more, Marigold and Hyacinth stood by the window.
Twice more it happened, scaring Rose and Ivy enough to not want to sleep alone in their rooms anymore. They moved their mattresses to Lily’s room, and that was the night Marigold and Hyacinth sat together and made their plans. They had seen enough not to allow some Peeping Tom to disturb the harmony they experienced for the first time in their short lives.
They caught him two weeks later, just as he silently put his ladder against one of the many high trees surrounding Flora.
Hyacinth caught him in surprise, clutching her arm around his neck and cutting off his air. Before he could make a sound or struggle, the cloth with chloroform covered his mouth and nose. They dragged him to the farthest corner of the garden, where earlier that day he had dug a compost hole, and dumped weeds and dry leaves.
The gardener sighed loudly and slowly opened his eyes. Wild panic got hold of the two young women. Hyacinth jumped on his chest and pressed down hard on his throat, while Marigold frantically searched for the cloth they used earlier. She ran back to where Hyacinth fought to keep the man down, and once more covered his nose and mouth. He quieted down, but neither of them let go.
Once his body went limp, they rolled him into the hole, and watched as he landed on the garden waste with a soft thump.
“That will teach him a lesson,” Hyacinth said as they looked down in the hole, faintly making out his body. The hole was deeper than the man was tall, and it would take him some time to get out of it.
Two weeks later at the dinner table, a chill ran up her spine when Marigold overheard Daisy saying: “I haven’t seen the gardener in some weeks now. I wonder if he quit? There’s so many leaves falling from the trees now.”
She didn’t dare look at Hyacinth to see if she had heard too. It was true: the gardener hadn’t been since they dumped him in that hole.
Marigold snuck into Hyacinth’s room later that night.
Hyacinth stood in front of the window. Seeing Marigold’s reflection in the window, she didn’t turn around, but softly said: “We killed him.”
Marigold’s hand flew to her mouth to stifle a scream. Behind her hand she whispered: “No.”
“Yes, we did. I checked. He’s still there.”
The next day, when the eight other women had left Flora to go to their respective classes, Marigold and Hyacinth raked the garden, and fully covered the dead body with leaves.
Harmony had returned to Flora.
Note: Written for the Wicked Wednesday bingo card prompt ‘language of flowers’.
My goal is to write for every one of the Wicked Wednesday Bingo Prompts. Join in!