EXCERPT, CHAPTER 24, IN THE WOODS BEHIND MY HOUSE

In the woods behind my house the roses expand. A crop of them blotting out the trees, an impassable thorned bush resembling a dark hill.

My sister tells me the roses are fed by blood and bone. I believe her. They have a certain intelligence, a way of watching and listening. When I was very young the rosebush was my double, short with five blooms. Now as I grow the rosebush multiplies: some day it may take over the woods.

Once I found a book called The Rose Child. It was next to the rosebush, back when the rosebush was small. In the book, a group of women called the Old Ones take a child and pull the child apart. They separate her head, arms, and legs and put roses in the sockets. They remove her organs and bones and put roses in their place. Finally they strip off her skin and the child is bright red— red as a rose.  The child grows into a rosebush and the Old Ones are happy. I thought the child was very lucky to be cultivated in such a way. But my parents found the book and grew angry.

            Where did you find this? They asked.

            In the woods, I replied.

            They took the book and I never saw it again.