Gloria enjoyed the warm summer months for the time it allowed her to spend in her garden. If she could, she would be out pottering about in it from the moment the sun rose until the time when the sky turned indigo and the moon and the stars were the only light to see by.
As it was, Gloria, had been up early. She had breakfasted on the patio, before spending a couple of hours tending the herbs in the herb garden, harvesting a number of them, for use later when her friend arrived for lunch.
With two glasses and a jug full of Gloria’s famous citrus and mint drink, a refreshing answer to the heat and the sun, sitting on the table, she waited for Tracey’s arrival. Sat at the cast iron table on the patio, it wasn’t long before Gloria had company, even though Tracey had yet to walk through the garden gate.
First a cat appeared from under the rose bush, approaching Gloria, before rubbing it’s head affectionately against her leg. It gracefully lay on the stone slabs by her feet, the loud purring a nice accompaniment to the cooing coming from the lower branch of the closest apple tree where sat two collared doves. A squirrel soon found itself sitting atop the waist-high fence bordering the patio, looking on with mild interest. That was followed by the eager starlings, who Gloria thought, must have been wondering if they were missing out on something. A number of busy bumble bees joined in proceedings by exploring the colourful, fragrant centre-piece; a big pot of lavender, thyme and sweet peas cascading over the rim. Finally, a toad emerged from the pond close to the patio, hoping it’s way across the path.
While she waited, Gloria decided to top up the bird food on the bird table that could be found in front of the kitchen window, where she often observed the birds over an early morning cup of tea. As soon as she moved back to her seat, the starlings took flight and went to investigate the offering.
‘Look at them all!’ Tracey called when she finally emerged through the gate, amazed by the number of creatures in the garden.
Gloria had just taken a small crumb from the plate of biscuits and held her hand out towards the fence.
‘Your garden’s like a zoo! Are you sure none of these are your pets?’ she asked as the friendly squirrel, eager to determine exactly what Gloria had in her hand, left the fence to claim it’s reward.
‘No, none of them are my pets. They are free to come and go as they please. Though of course, I do enjoy their company. The garden wouldn’t quite be the same without them in it, would it?’ she answered smiling.
‘If I didn’t know better,’ Tracey replied, ‘I would have said you were a witch, and they your familiars! It’s such a strange sight!’
‘Perhaps you should know better. Who’s to say they’re not?’ Gloria answered with a twinkle in her eye, as she moved to the porch to collect her besom so that she could sweep the patio of the stray bird seeds that hadn’t been claimed by her feathered friends. ‘Who’s to say they’re not indeed!’
This piece of flash fiction was inspired by the writing prompt ‘Familiars’, from this month’s theme, ‘Witchcraft’. For more information, visit this page…