“Meet me at the Cinnamon Circle at 2 a.m.” She had slipped him the message after dinner. They were experts at keeping secrets, and she was sure no one had seen their interchange, not even the servants. The Cinnamon Circle was a favorite trysting place for weekend guests, but was usually empty after midnight. For centuries it had been the “Semi-Circle”, named after the stone wall with its hidden benches. But when Lady Millicent planted ginger lilies within the circle, her youngest daughter took one whiff and purposely mispronounced the ancient name. Now everyone mispronounced it.
The clock was striking half one when she settled into a stone bench to await his arrival. She had prepared a “feeling path” during the day to find the Cinnamon Circle on this moonless night. He wouldn’t need such assistance. “I can find my way around the garden blind-folded” was his constant boast. She smiled. He would come.
Meanwhile, he no longer believed his own boasting. The night was pitch-black and nothing felt like the familiar garden he knew. He didn’t dare use a torch or make a sound, for fear of waking the house. Surely he could follow the scent of the lilies! But the scent filled every corner of the garden and caused him to lose his bearings, intoxicated with excitement and luscious perfume.
Crash! He walked right into a prickly bush. He bravely kept quiet, but disentangling from the bush led to more crashes, rustlings, and a few moans.
“Gemma!” Her eyes widened with dismay as she heard him whisper her name. “Shush, Geoff!” She didn’t dare say more. Lights were coming on in the Lord’s bedroom, the servant’s quarters and now in the front hall. A familiar face appeared on the path, torch in hand. He was flanked by three servants. “You children get back into the house this instant!” The six-year old twins were quickly bundled into the front hall, then up to their rooms. “Playing sleuth again in the middle of the night,” said their father, with a bit of pride. “What will those two think of next?”
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story: Nutshell Narratives 2019-01