Ineed some help here.
September 6, 2008 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Another of the endless stream of "name this childhood book" questions that y'all are so good at answering.

This is less than a novel -- think novella or short story. One or two of this details will be wrong, but I am writing a quarter-century or so after I last read it.

The protagonist is a young girl with some with a moderately serious physical impairment (in leg braces, perhaps, and walking only with difficulty). She lives in a large house with some benignly inattentive parents and she finds herself befriending a neighbour girl. The neighbour girl never really appears in person until the climax of the story, but the parents occasionally see the two playing at the bottom of the garden. From the protagonist's description to her parents, her friend is clearly not human: for one thing, her teeth are green. The neighbour girl's name is given as Ineed, which our protagonist's mother absent-mindedly corrects to Enid.

The parents notice that their daughter has changed. Her braces are gone one day and her teeth are now straight. When the parents ask how this is possible, the girl says that Ineed took her jaw off, put the teeth in the right places and put it back on. The parents scold the girl for lying.

Later the girl no longer needs glasses: again she tells them that Ineed took out her eyes and fixed them and has promised to fix her legs. Again, the parents scold their daughter and tell her not to see Enid any more.

One morning the father sees the daughter playing with her friend in the garden and goes out to discipline her. When he reaches the kids he discovers the Ineed is definitely not human, and that she has indeed taken his daughter to pieces to fix her legs. Ineed is startled by the father and scampers away into the hedge, leaving the father helpless with his inert, dismembered daughter.


There is at least one illustration in the version I read, depicting the moment where father and Ineed startle one another. The daughter is visible in pieces; the father is raising his arms in shock and dismay, and partially obscuring Ineed's face -- only her bizarre eyes are visible, gazing up at his face.

I suspect I read it in one of those digest-sized science fiction magazines like Analog, and by the mid-eighties at the very latest (but of course it may have been from earlier). I have only ever encountered one other person who recalled it, and she thought the title was something like "Down by the Garden Gate."

Googling this and every variation I can think of has led me nowhere, and a search for "Ineed" shows the remarkable frequency with which "I need" and "indeed" fall prey to typos.

So: I am not 100% sure of anything above, but I would say 90% with the name "Ineed" and her green teeth, and that that the date would be pre-1985.

Any help would be appreciated.
posted by ricochet biscuit to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think it's "At the Bottom of the Garden" by David Campton. I'd never read it before myself, but googled "ineed" "enid" and got this.
posted by oulipian at 8:55 AM on September 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wow! Twenty years of searching trumped in twenty minutes. Somehow it never occurred to me to drop "ineed" and "enid" both in as search terms. Thanks, oulipian!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2008


Uh, what an awesome story.
posted by liketitanic at 9:03 AM on September 6, 2008


Seems to be based on the myth of Thetis and Achilles.
posted by nasreddin at 9:59 AM on September 6, 2008


I'm glad I was never forced to read that as a kid, lol.
posted by Precision at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2008


I have to read that. And I have to agree, very glad I never read that as a child.
posted by piedmont at 3:14 PM on September 6, 2008


Ahhhh! The parents actually find the daughter when Ineed is taking her head off and her eyes out.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:34 PM on September 6, 2008


and jesus, the last paragraph and sentence...!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:36 PM on September 6, 2008


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