The Winter Garden and Other Stories Box Set by Hayden Thorne is now available!
Strange music from a legendary haunted glade can only be heard by a special boy. A grieving young man turns to the dark arts to bring his deceased lover back. A soiled and tired knight protects the innocent from the threat of a dragon. Young love blooms in a desolate garden.
Familiar and original fairy tales, myths, and legends explore the complexities in a gay teen’s coming-of-age through allegory and metaphor. Rain-drenched circuses, old wives’ tales involving candles in windows, water-irises deep in a wood, lonely fairy kings, and magical Christmas parties not only present valuable lessons, but also provide an escape into worlds in which a gay teen can see himself as the amazing, resilient hero of adventures and romance.
Contains the stories: Clouds’ Illusions, Erl-King, Out of the Depths, The Bridge, The Dollhouse, The Haunted Glade, The Knight, The Water-Irises, and The Winter Garden.
EXCERPT FROM “The Winter Garden”
My entire existence was held firmly within the circle of weathered stone that walled my parents’ extensive garden. My earliest memory of life was watching birds sail from the uppermost branches of an oak tree toward the ivy-choked wall, vanishing past it, never to be seen again. I was never allowed to venture beyond the garden walls without being hemmed in on each side by my parents. All activity was restricted by their indulgent anxiety over my health, and when moving about in the city, they took care to lead me by my arms here and there.
The garden became my world, and there I spent most of what time I had free from my tutor’s company. All interaction with the world happened between the rusted bars of the small garden gate at the north wall. I’d press my face between the bars to watch time and the world take another step closer to infinity while the garden was left static, and before long I’d earned the reputation of the Garden Ghost among the neighboring boys and girls. Those who thought it worth their time to converse with me claimed that I looked too pale and melancholy — like an abandoned specter — whenever I took my place behind the weathered iron. But for all their sympathies, none was inclined to do something about it, opting to leave me at the gate while they carried on with their business and their play, vanishing behind passing carriages and carts.
Adrian appeared one day, no different from those birds that strayed inside the garden from unknown distances. While I stared through the bars, a pale figure sauntered toward the gate and startled me out of my self-pitying stupor.
“Good day,” he said, bending closer and narrowing his eyes for a better look. “Are you a prisoner?”
“Well, no. I live here.”
“What’s the difference?”
“I haven’t done anything wrong.”
He took a step closer till our faces were nearly touching between the bars, and I could feel his breath fanning me. He smelled of fruit and wine, and I was repulsed; debauchery and all sorts of drink-associated sins crossed my mind. He was one of those unprincipled, dissipated wretches my parents had warned me against, I thought. And yet I held on to the gate and stared back, amazed.
“Do you know how sad and puny you look?”
“Is that an improvement from looking like a ghost?”
Adrian chuckled then winked. “Well, well — it’s a pretty prospect that you have,” he said as he straightened up, fixing his gaze behind me. He even craned his neck and stood on tiptoes in order to enjoy a more sweeping view of the garden. “I believe that I’ll take advantage of your good humor and admire your little garden more closely.”
I blinked as he moved off to the side. “I beg your pardon?”
Adrian ignored me and scaled the northern wall, undaunted by the height, not at all cowed by the danger posed by my parents’ vigilance. Somehow his hands and feet found sufficient purchase in the mossy, ivy-choked, and weathered rock, and he climbed with hardly any effort, it seemed. Like the birds that flew out, he sailed over the half-crumbling barrier though, unlike them, he traveled the other way, entering a scene of waning warmth and the initial days of cold and desolation, not flying away from it.
This violation sparked our fight. I knew my limits all too well, however, and concession was my only way out, for Adrian didn’t show signs of leaving.