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The Garden This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Twilight's hush is broken only by a trickle of water fromthe garden fountain. With light from the pale moon, Susie watches her blurredreflection stare back in a ripple of confusion.

Focusing on a droplet, shecontemplates her life. Throwing water gracefully, continuously, into the air, thefountain creates a peaceful aura. Susie attempts to uncover meaning. She nevertakes time to think about herself or consider ways she can improve her spirituallife. She goes to church, of course, and has an abundance of time to shop andthink about her financial achievements, to gossip with friends. Yet she neverdelves into the depths of her soul.

Susie continues on the brick path, thelight breeze rustling her gold silk dress. She can faintly smell the roses, thesweet fragrance she has come to love. Bending to pick one, she becomes mesmerizedby the magnificence of the petals. Susie gently presses it to her nose, cuppingher hands around the stem, enveloped by the fresh aroma.

Her husbandMichael has always supported her. His business trips are many, but he alwaystries to please her and succeeds in fulfilling her lavish tastes. Michael hasalways loved her, but she's been complacent with him. Susie doesn't feel likeenough love exists between them, even though they don't fight as much as theirfriends. Michael always says she's looking for a fairy tale, that she's spoiledand he can't understand what else she could possibly want from him. Although shecan think of many things, she always ends the argument, fearful of upsettinghim.

She remembers like yesterday his proposal on that cold, blusterynight. They were enjoying their time together in a remote ski resort nestled inthe foothills of the Catskill Mountains. She had a feeling he was going to askher to marry him, but was still breathless when he held out the Tiffany & Co.box. Her eyes sparkled with amazement as she gazed at the ring. The moment herbreath returned, she mumbled yes and fell into his arms. Susie remembers thethrill she felt, how blessed she knew she was to be marrying someone like Michaeland be with him the rest of her life.

Her arm outstretched, fingersweighed down by the beautiful ring, she smiled as she told her parents the news.Her father was ecstatic. Susie remembers how it felt to have her dad so happy,and she couldn't remember when he had ever looked so proud. That night, he stoodup at the restaurant, announcing to everyone the marriage of Michael and Susie,and making a toast to their love and happiness.

Susie looks down at herhand and sees blood. Pulling the thorn from her finger, a small gasp escapes herlips, and she lets the rose flutter to the ground.

She steps to the edgeof the garden, where the flowers are wilting. Her face is covered with shadows ofthe clouds moving across the moon. Why did I love Michael? Do I still love him?She is perplexed by the complexity of the answers. Well, of course I do, shethinks, as she saunters to the overgrown grape arbor. I love his plannedsurprises, his comfort and security. I can't imagine being with anyone else.Really. Why do I always convince myself of things when I am trying to find thetruth? Why did I marry him?

When she met Michael he was incrediblynice. He treated her like a princess, always buying her presents, flowers andcandy. He was respectable. She enjoyed going places with him. He had anintellectual side that captivated her. Her dad loved him like a son. And he hadmoney.

All of a sudden, the obvious dawns on her. Of course her dad lovedhim. He loved anyone with money, anyone prominent in the community. The realreasons she married Michael were for money and to make her dad proud. He alwaystold her she wasn't proper enough, needed to act more controlled. He thought shewas trouble and often ignored her, despite her beauty and achievements inacademics and sports.

She wanted to feel special, to be recognized.What have I done? she wonders. Why have I never realized this? How could I haveoverlooked the only love in my life? How could I not notice my true feelings? Howcould I lie to myself about something so big?

As she proceeds down thepath, she dreads the future. Susie approaches the fountain, still lost in herpast. She suddenly remembers the locket Bill gave her, the one she treasured, butforced herself to put away when she met Michael. As she thinks of Bill she isflooded with happiness, remembering how she loved him.

She wonders whathappened to him, where he could be at this moment, if he might be thinking ofher, wondering about her life as she is wondering about his. She remembers howshe wanted to marry him. She had pushed it to the back of her mind for so longthat she had almost forgotten their relationship. Yet she could never forget whatthey had, couldn't shake the dreams and hopes from her head.

The day heproposed, she was standing by the corral on her father's farm. It was a windy butdry, dusty day. Her dad told Bill he wasn't good enough for Susie. It felt likesomeone stabbed her continually with a dull blade, not stopping until she wasbreathless. She could see the pain in Bill's eyes, but she was not strong enoughto go against her father. Her head shaking, feet glued to the earth, she couldnot say a word.

She is stronger now, though, strong enough to hold herown. At least, she thinks she is. She takes one last look in the crystal bluewater of the fountain, and decides she needs to find Bill again. She's going tolook deep inside her soul, to think long and hard about Michael. She is positiveshe will find Bill's locket hidden in a small wooden box in the back of hercloset, waiting to be opened. All the memories she forced herself to forgetsurface, and she realizes they never left. She simply didn't let herself findthem.

Susie's thoughts are broken by the warmth of the sun on her back,and she watches the reflection of her silk dress sparkle in its light. The sunapproaching the horizon, Susie strolls along the geranium-lined brick walk to herhouse, destined to find the locket that always meant the world.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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