The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven

The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven

By Peter Gray



My story begins in a humble lodging, an ancestral home belonging to Theodore Woven. His lodging was

situated by the icy coast, placed upon the highest hill for all to see. Grey granite bricks were built from

the ground upwards, towering over the sea-line where his simple white boat was but a dot in the

distance. Theodore the second - his official title - lived in this housing alone. His only companion was a

sleek white cat named, “Luna,” whom he had found as a hungry stray many years ago.

The first time I had set eyes on his home was on the twenty-first of April, on a warm balmy day that

would ideally make my job easier. I was to take up my supervisor’s position and tend to his private

gardens for the next week, while her husband was in the hospital. I was informed it would be a relatively

easy task if I followed one simple instruction: to leave the master of that house alone.

***

Olive coloured rain-boots splashed against the dewy grass, squishing loudly with each step as I strode

over the endless field that led to the tall brick building atop of the hill. An umbrella was squeezed tightly

in my hand. It was drizzling outside, but it was not enough to dissuade me from paying this house a visit.

I had a map in my left hand, a circle around Mr. Woven’s lodging to help me on my way as I wandered

around this unfamiliar village.

It was just after dawn, and the sun was shining full strength despite the light water droplets drizzling

from the sky. It was unusually warm weather as well, compelling me to unzip my black raincoat to let it

swing at my sides. The house was becoming clearer now; a thick array of green vines crept up the side of

the brick wall. There were large green hedges streamed beside it, and fern trees half covering the

windows. I spotted a small trail of a brick pathway leading up to the house, so I moved over to the left to

navigate myself towards that well-trodden path. A vintage bike was parked outside of the front

doorway, glossy with a cheery red shine that glistened in the golden sunlight. There was a shed to the

left of the house; it was painted with a pale ruddy colour that had faded over the years. I could only

assume the supplies I needed would be there, but first I must introduce myself to the owner.

I knocked on the door, and then looked around to see Mr. Woven’s property was devoid of all people.

His house was somewhat isolated, though the picturesque view of the blue sea made up for it.

A heavy lock sounded from the inner quarters, and then I heard the creaking of a door as it slowly

opened. In time I saw a man standing before me; his tall, lean stature easily overwhelmed me as I barely

met the top of his chest. He had a proud look to him with dark eyes and a sharp, angular nose. His lips

were tightly pursed as he looked down at me. I could feel a wave of scrutiny from him, and once he was

satisfied with his silent examination, the stranger in front of me opened the door a tad bit wider. “Good

morning,” he drawled in a lifeless voice.

“Good morning,” I answered him.

There was a light meow behind the man, prompting him to look over his shoulder to find the cat that

was vying for his attention. He took a step back, allowing me to see the small creature with soft blue

eyes. The white cat tilted its head, trying to find the right angle to see the whole of my figure. The man

abandoned his post and quickly swept the cat off the floor to cradle the creature lovingly. He

approached the open doorway with the small white feline in his arms, allowing his right hand to stroke it

softly as he reverted his attention to me. “How can I help you?”

“My name is Sela. My supervisor’s name is Daphne.” I paused to see if this man displayed any

recognition to my supervisor’s name. “Daphne Risson.”

“Yes, I know who she is,” he exclaimed with disinterest.

“Her husband is in the hospital right now. She has sent me to tend to your gardens for the week.”

“An entire week?”

“Yes, sir.”

He nodded his head slowly, though he maintained that resolute dead-pan expression. “Come in,” he

quipped, before he turned his back to me. I took the liberty of removing my damp coat once I stepped

inside. The tall man shut the door behind me, and then let his plush grey slippers tread over the wooden

floor as soft as a mouse. He had a certain glide to his walk, an effortless gait that reminded me of a

noble aristocrat. He wore a white dress shirt buttoned up all the way but the sleeves were rolled up to

expose his forearms. The cat was brought higher up his chest, allowing the bridge of his nose to stroke

across the fur calmly. “Hang your coat up there,” he commanded. “There is a rack, you see.” He watched

me perform this action quietly, and then suggested I lay my muddy boots on a plastic mat next to the

door. “Follow me,” he instructed, and then led me down the short hallway to take me into an unknown

room.

I entered his living room, observing the pristine order he maintained to the highest degree. There was a

sleek black piano placed next to the open window. The walls were cluttered over with paintings, images

of far-away places that I had never seen before. The soft patter of the cat landing on the floor caught my

attention, letting my eyes flicker back to its owner.

“My name is Theodore Woven,” he stated. “But you may call me Teddy.” He raised up his chin proudly,

almost expecting me to laugh at his statement. “I would prefer that to junior,” he added, before he

confidently strode over to his large sofa.

His cat hopped over the wooden bench, and then jumped a little higher to land on the piano. The paws

were most concerned to not press down on the keyboard, so the cat moved in a certain way to stay

along the wooden edges to not make a sound.

“Your cat is beautiful.”

“Luna,” he exclaimed. “She has been with me for quite some time.” He pointed to the right side of the

couch. “Please, take a seat.”

I inspected my clothes to make sure they were not dirty, and then I nervously took a seat on the other

side of the couch.

Luna leapt to the top of the piano and then tilted her head in a curious way, watching the flickering

lights change as the clouds continued to drift past the sun. When I turned my attention to Mr. Woven he

immediately dropped his gaze, not wanting me to discover he had been watching me all along.

“I trust Daphne gave you proper instructions.”

“She did.”

“I would have liked her to call me,” he deliberated aloud. “Is this very sudden?”

“I am afraid it is.” My hands interlaced together nervously. “Her husband had a stroke.”

“Oh.”

Mr. Woven looked down at his hands, examining the lines creasing his knuckles as he let his thoughts

drift away. I took the liberty of studying his bookcase, and then the painting of a French vineyard that

was placed behind me.

“Am I to give you the wages then? I do direct deposit with her.”

“Daphne will pay me out of pocket,” I assured him. “It will make things less awkward.”

“You are quite early. Have you had something to eat?”

“I don't have a car, so I had to take an earlier bus. I did not want to be late on my first day.”

“I see.”

“I normally work on the other side of the village. The south side, to be exact. I design and maintain the

garden for business owners. Banks, law offices, dentistry’s-”

“-but no private homes?”

“No.”

“Then this must be unusual for you,” he observed. Mr. Woven turned his head away from me, letting his

gaze settle to the open window where the drapes lightly fluttered in the warm breeze. His cat was

curled up in a ball over the piano, lost in a sweet slumber that I almost envied. “You never answered my

question. Would you like something to eat?”

“I have too much work to do.”

“Nonsense!” He pushed himself off the comfy couch and then straightened his back in a prideful way. “I

have some muffins. Would that suit you?”

“Yes, it would.”

He patiently waited for me to rise from the sofa as well, and then led the way. We entered the hallway

once again, allowing me to see the wooden staircase directly ahead of us. The walls were bare along the

wall here, though the creamy beige ceiling with an intricate diamond pattern held my interest for a bit.

Mr. Woven turned to the left, crossing over the curved archway to take two sets of stairs downwards to

enter the large kitchen. There was a window to reveal the backyard, and a circular dining table with two

chairs situated around it. His kitchen was incredibly clean; a half empty cup of coffee was placed at the

edge of the table with the few remains of a torn sesame seed bagel covered in strawberry jam. He

pulled out a chair to suggest I take it, and then turned his back to me to wash his hands under the

kitchen sink. I could make out the light scent of zucchini, a curious fragrance coming from his liquid hand

soap. I took the designated seat in front of a door, though I was satisfied enough to see that I could

simply turn my head to see the garden.

“I bought these muffins from a bakery yesterday.” I turned my head to see Mr. Woven lifting a pantry to

obtain a set of pastries. “I have blueberry, chocolate and banana and one last carrot muffin.”

“I will take the carrot.”

“Very well.” He pulled it out with a set of tongs. “Coffee or tea?”

“Coffee.”

“You like it with cream or milk?”

“I will have it black.”

He looked over his shoulders at me in disbelief before he returned to setting the muffin down on a

designated plate. He strode over to me with eyes intently gazing on my person. The plate was set down

in front of me, and then Mr. Woven took a deliberate step back. “Need a few minutes to set up the

coffee.”

“Take your time.”

“I think I will have a second cup.” He moved away from the table, intent on starting the coffee machine.

It was an old device, much like the rest of the items in his house. I thought Mr. Woven lived in a timewarp; an age forgotten, a time that had passed us long ago. He was the strangest of them all, for he had

his dark brown hair brushed neatly to the side and sideburns that gave him a more distinguished look. I

could only guess he was in his early thirties, but it was so hard to tell. “All the tools that you will ever

need will be in the outside shed. You will have no need to come through the house. I detest any mess…”

He looked over his shoulder to maintain a hardened gaze on me. “Of any kind.” He began to wash his

hands, even though it wasn’t necessary. The running water droned out his voice a bit as he continued,

“If you need me, knock on the front door and I shall come. If I am playing the piano, you may knock on

the glass window. I find it harder to hear anything else when I am situated there.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Theo or Teddy will do,” he sharply quipped.

“Why Teddy?”

“It was a nickname I received as a child,” he answered with his back to me. I watched his large hands

rung the stripped blue and white towel tightly. “It sort of stuck.” He clutched the towel even tighter as

he added: “My mother called me that.”

I nodded my head silently, deciding it was best to agree with my employer’s demands.

The coffee machine made a screeching sound, signaling it was nearly done. I rested my arms over the

table, letting it rest around the curve of the plate as I silently watched the man work hard at drying off

the last of the dishes. He had large hands, incredibly strong, and I could not help but notice he had not a

single ring on his fingers. I imagined he must be lonely living in this house all alone, but he gave no

inclination so far that it disagreed with him.

“Do you want a large cup?”

“Oh, not too much.”

“Alright.” A pastel blue ceramic cup was raised into the air, and he made sure to wiggle it from side to

side to get my attention. “This will do?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He walked over to my table and set the mug next to my right hand. “Will you be coming here every

day?”

“Yes.”

“The same time?”

“I believe so. Why?”

“I will have coffee ready for you next time.” The coffee machine beeped at the perfect timing, allowing

him to turn around to be attentive to the curious machinery. Luna appeared over the open doorway,

stretching her back to the point that it curled upward. Her head was shaken once she was done, and

then a tired yawn allowed her jaws to open to the fullest. I took in the sharp white fangs, and then

watched as lazy blue eyes turned in my direction with curiosity.

“Did you name her after the moon?”

“I did.” Teddy came over to retrieve my mug. “Do you think it suits her?”

“With her white fur it does,” I mused aloud. I leaned to the right of the chair with my hand barely

hovering over the ground. I waved my fingers for the small creature to come over, suddenly feeling the

urge to pet her soft fur.

“I would advise you to wash your hands once you touch her,” a deep baritone voice echoed over me. In

the corner of my eye I could see Teddy laying the mug down on the table. “We don’t know where she

winds up to sometimes.”

Luna ignored her master, simply scampering over to me to drag the side of her head against my hand.

“Does Luna go outside?”

“Oh, yes.”

“She doesn’t get to any trouble?”

“So far no, but I know she doesn’t like to go far. It is hard to find her at night, however, she isn’t one to

sleep with her owner.”

“Oh, that is too bad.”

Teddy never replied to my statement. I brought the cat upwards to rest on my lap. Luna purred as I

swept my fingers along her back, enjoying the attention I was giving her.

“Sela?” I looked upwards to see him hovering over a chair that was to my left. “Do you have any pets?”

“My flat is too small,” I complained. “Maybe when I have a place of my own.”

“You don’t have a place to yourself?”

“Well, the owner doesn’t like pets,” I explained. “And a cat would scratch up the furniture and walls,

wouldn’t they?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” A touch of milk was dropped into his coffee. “Would you have one? If you were

allowed?”

“I would feel less lonely,” I confided, as I continued to stroke my fingers over Luna. Her pink nose was

intent on rubbing itself against the side of my hand, sending a dampness over the curve of my wrist.

“She likes attention,” he warned. A tall white mug was raised into the air, half shielding his mouth from

me. “I can tell she likes you as well.”

“Does she like Daphne?”

“Daphne is allergic to cats,” he regrettably answered me. “All the more reason for Luna to enjoy you.”

The purring grew louder, sending a shadow of a smile to this man’s face. The sunlight revealed the

clearness of his skin and absence of lines that made his exact age so hard to figure out. I could feel him

studying me as well. There was something about me that secretly pleased him, and once his mind was

made up, he took his first sip of coffee. I drew my hand away from Luna’s demanding presence and

reached for my mug as well. Tiny slurps filled the air, since I was startled to find the water so piping hot. 

Teddy was accustomed to the temperature, allowing him to finish up his beverage faster than me. “I

hope you don’t mind me asking,” I began. “But what do you do?”

“What do you think?”

“Oh, I have no idea. I suppose most men would be in their business attire and driving off to work by

now.”

“Most men, yes.”

“Are you a musician?”

“It is a hobby,” he coldly stated. “Nothing more than that.”

“Then… what are you?”

“I don’t like titles,” he fussed. “But if I must choose something… I am a painter.”

“Oh, that makes sense now.”

“I paint landscape and architecture mainly. I seldom do portraits, so please don’t ask that from me.”

“Oh, I would never.”

“Good,” he said with utter crispness. “Now, hand Luna to me.” I let my hands curl around the small

creature and brought it over to the man next to me. He was able to lift Luna with one hand, allowing

him to settle Luna on his lap with only her head peaking over the edge of the table. “Wash your hands,”

he reminded me once he spotted me reaching over for my muffin. “Please.”

I pushed back my chair and turned on the tap. The water was icy cold against my fingers, and when I

splashed it over my hand, I let my gaze fixate over the garden that was just starting to bloom with

spring. The soap was poured on my hands, and once enough soap suds were spread all over, I knew it

was time to rinse it off.

“Sela?” called out Teddy behind me. “Is this your full-time job?”

“Yes, it is.”

“For how long?”

“About a year and a half.”

The tap was just being turned off when I overheard: “Do you enjoy it?”

“I wouldn’t be here, if I didn’t.” I felt that statement was somewhat rude and looked over my shoulder

to see his head bent downwards with pure fixation on his cat. “I never meant to be rude. Sorry, it was

sarcasm.”

His voice was unbearably low as he uttered: “Sarcasm.”

“I’m sorry.”

His response was delayed, but eventually he spoke out: “It is forgotten.”

I let the dish towel dry my hands quickly, so I could return to my seat. Teddy never lifted his gaze from

his beloved cat. I took a seat nervously and then reached forward to have my first bite of the muffin.

“Would you like it heated in future?”

“Yes, that would be nice.”

“I am not used to having guests,” he stated in an exacting tone of voice. “I like my house to be quiet.”

I chewed down on the muffin softly, hoping I wouldn’t do anything else to disturb him.

“I enjoy peace and quiet,” he continued. “I can’t bear the scraping of chairs, the prattling of people.” He

lifted the chin of Luna, so he could see her light blue eyes. “Cats are quiet creatures, except when they

meow.”

I let out a light chuckle since I agreed with my employer.

“And the sound of the sea calms me. I have…” He tilted his head to the right. “Frazzled nerves.”

“Frazzled?”

“Excitable,” he offered out. “Any little thing can trigger it.”

I let my eyebrows lower curiously, for I was having trouble understanding what Teddy was telling me.

“You look confused,” he observed. “Don’t worry. I will make sure it won’t be lashed out on you.”

“Excitable?”

“I am sensitive to sounds,” he muttered.

“The piano doesn’t bother you.”

“With the right tune it can soothe my nerves,” he rapped out carelessly. “How are you finding the

coffee?” I nodded my head since my mouth was stuffed with food. “Enjoying it?”

“Yes.”

A grandfather clock struck loudly in the house, making me think it was the exact opposite sound that

would agree with Teddy. He closed his eyes with half annoyance, and only appeared at ease once the

reign of terror ended. His cat leapt off his lap, shooting down the kitchen to sprint down the hallway. I 

felt goosebumps rise at the back of my arms, but when I looked over my shoulder all I could see was a

wooden door that was bolted shut with a heavy chain.

“That goes down to the cellars,” Teddy explained. “Nothing important down there.”

I turned my gaze to the homeowner, having a sense of eeriness since I felt he was lying to me. My hand

trembled as I reached for the cup, noticing how the room darkened as a series of clouds eclipsed the

morning sun.

There was something strange about this man, but I could not put my finger on it yet.

“The clock has struck ten, which means Daphne would be here by now. I will give you the keys to the

shed, but please remember to return them.”

“After my shift?”

“Yes.” He lifted his mug to gulp down the last of it. “The key is near the front door, I will get it now. Once

you are finished your breakfast, I expect you to be working hard outside.”

“Yes, of course.”

“And if you need anything, you know how to contact me.”

“Absolutely.”

“I will be back then,” he surmised. The mug was placed gently on the kitchen sink, soft enough to not

make a sound. Slippers lightly trod over the wooden floor, and soon enough he was gone from my view.

I took to eating my food quicker, finding Teddy’s presence a little too much for me. He was an odd man,

and for some reason I no longer felt safe alone with him. Daphne had worked for him for years and she

had experienced no harm or discomfort, but still, would that be enough to guarantee my safety as well?

I could hear creaking of steps overhead, a strange recognition since I assumed no one else was home.

The creaking continued, going ever so slowly like a person that was elderly and too weak to make it

down the steps on their own.

The soft padding of slippers resounded on the other end, and I saw Teddy step past the kitchen doorway

to make his way to the top set of stairs. There was hush muttering on his end, growing sharper as the

moments passed by. “Yes,” was the only thing I heard, and then the footsteps of Teddy grew louder as

he went around the doorway to come into my view. “I am afraid your time is up.”

“Is someone there?” His face was passive, unwilling to show any sign of emotion. “I thought I heard

something.”

“No.”

“Oh?” I looked down at the remains of my muffin, and wondered if it was worth finishing when I felt so

uncomfortable around Teddy.

He looked over his shoulder as if he feared someone would come, and then took a large step forward to

enter the kitchen. “Leave the rest,” he demanded. “It is time for you to go outside.”

I pushed away the plate, feeling a sense of defeat. “I am sorry I can’t wash up.”

He raised his hand to the left of him, entreating me to exit the kitchen as quick as possible. I walked

towards him with timid steps, feeling like something was going to pounce at me at any moment. The

bottom of my stomach felt tense when I finally locked eyes with Teddy, feeling his arresting gaze was

seeking me out. “I will take you outside,” he informed me. I passed under the archway and found just

enough space to walk past Teddy without brushing my arm against him. In the corner of my eye I looked

at the foot of the staircase, and then the upper landing where I thought the footsteps had stopped.

There was nothing there.

Teddy laid a hand on the top of my back to keep me going, sensing I was too curious for my own good.

He left me near the front entrance, claiming he needed to retrieve his coat that he left upstairs. The

house was incredibly silent when I slipped on my boots, though I heard the soft pattering of Luna in the

main living room. She made a sharp hiss as if she could sense danger, but when I peeked around the

corner into the living room, I saw nothing there. I turned my gaze to the empty hallway, and then the set

of staircases that led to the upper rooms. Restless, I pushed open the front door and stepped outside,

grateful for the fresh air and the heat of the sun. I would have to make some inquiries about Theodore

Woven the next time I called Daphne on the telephone. There was something not right about this man,

as if he were hiding a secret from me. Restlessness seized me once again, so I shut the front door and

began to wander at the side of the house, curious to see the left side of it. I passed the cherry red

bicycle, and then took a glance at the stony birdbath that was placed near the front of the house. The

deep bowl was empty, informing me that Teddy cared very little for the birds’ well-being. I let my hands

fall deep into my pant pocket, watching my boots sink into the damp grass. I continued to wander until I

fell under the shade of a willow tree, and only then picked up the distinctive sound of Teddy’s voice: “It

was just coffee! No! No, I wouldn’t do that. I swear it. Don’t get angry with me. I promised I will protect

you and…” The rest of his voice trailed off, for he had moved away from the crack of the open window. I

looked upwards to see the plain brick wall, still unscathed by the green vines that crept along the other

side of the house. There were no windows on the lower level, allowing me to creep past it to get to the

back of the house. I could see the extensiveness of the garden, the clean white bench that was placed in

front of high grove wall. In the center of the garden was a steel bower, with floral greenery strung atop

of it, dangling beautifully to the very bottom where a table and two chairs were situated. I walked over

to it, letting my fingers feel the brown wood of the chair as I examined the intricate pattern of white

pillow with lace trimmings. I thought the area was very domestic, almost possessing a womanly touch.

I looked over my shoulder to see the open window to the kitchen, noticing it was clear enough to not

see Teddy on the other side of the glass. My eyes drifted to the two windows over top, both shut with

heavy drapes so I could not spot anything of interest there. The faint sound of the front door shutting

assured me that Teddy was outside, and soon enough I saw his towering figure striding down the green

fields.

Once he came closer, I observed he was wearing a tan suede bomber jacket with the first few buttons to

his white dress shirt opened. “You left,” he said with pure irritation. “I would prefer you listen to my

instructions.”

“You changed.”

He looked down at his shirt, taking note that his dress shirt was tucked in neatly this time for me to see

the flatness of his stomach. “I might have…” He shrugged his shoulders guilty. “Freshened up a bit.”

I smiled at him unknowingly, which made him look down in embarrassment. “What do you think of the

garden so far?”

“I think it is beautiful! Do you do any gardening yourself?”

“A little, but most of it is done by Daphne.”

“You spend a lot of time out here?”

“I like to read outdoors,” he mused aloud. “Sometimes paint.”

“I bet it is nice in the summertime,” I said with all agreeableness. “I like the table you put up here.”

“Yes, my mother likes it too.”

“Is she around?” He arched up an eyebrow suspiciously. “Does she live with you?”

“My mother is dead,” he said with a tenseness in his voice.

“Oh, I didn’t realize.”

He looked down at the ground, unable to reach my eyes anymore. I felt incredibly guilty, hoping her

passing wasn’t recent enough to bring him into a pitiful state. Teddy turned his body slightly away from

me, curiously looking up at the house as if a thought had come over him. “You should see the shed,” he

murmured. “And then you are free to do whatever the hell you like.”

“I didn’t…” I stretched out a hand, barely touching the soft fabric of his jacket. “I really didn’t know.”

He swallowed hard, while instinctively leaning into my touch. His eyes wavered downwards, and when

he had enough confidence, he shot it upwards to gaze longingly into mine. Teddy’s mouth opened

partially, but then something compelled him to shut it. He leaned away from my touch, creating enough

space for him to look more himself again. “I think you should follow me,” he uttered in a cracked voice.

He left the spot immediately, striding over to the shed at an incredibly brisk pace. The wind picked up a

bit, blowing right into Teddy’s form as he made his way to the shed. The wind was strong enough to pick

up his low mutterings, and in the breeze, I could hear the faintest traces of his one-sided conversation.

“Will you just leave me alone,” He grumbled. “I am not doing anything. And stop following me.” Teddy

looked over his shoulder, making sure I was far enough away to not hear his insistent grumblings. “Go

back to your room,” he shot out, and with a flick of his wrist sent that unknown being away from him. I 

slowed down my steps in disbelief, wondering if Teddy was suffering from some mental illness. It was

clear he truly believed he was speaking to someone, but who that person’s identity would remain a

mystery to me, not unless I was willing to find out the truth.