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In The Garden
I’m a garden, a thriving Paradise of Life, on a crisp October evening. My beauty is at the peak of its career this time of year; for soon the plants will begin to die. There is even a slight frost dusting some of the flowers already, and some of their petals litter the soft carpet of grass. And yet, everyone here is comfortable with who they are. They know that as long as they live within my boundaries, they will be accepted and loved. I suppose that’s why some of the tiniest bugs crawling across the stepping stone path prosper, for when they are here they are as big as the mighty oak tree in the very center of my splendor.
All of my children take life in small doses, just living each day. I think of the short time I have left to say goodbye to them, though. Soon they will be gone, and there’s nothing I can do about it. How foolish of me, I mustn’t think about things out of my control…So I look to the heavens. Anticipating his perfect moment to do so, the sun is waiting to go back to bed, no worries, no rush, just that same consistency. Day by day. Week by week. Year by year. Everything here…It all changes so much but in the end it feels the same.
Suddenly, I see her, the girl who comes here when she feels like there’s nowhere else she can go. This is one of the biggest places of light in her world, and she feels the need to make it that way for all of the creatures here. I recall with nostalgia the time during the summer when the tomato plants were barely hanging on to life, withering away from discontent and sorrow. Oh, how she watered them with such tenderness-- and how little by little, they lifted their heads up to the sky once more.
But, she couldn’t do much for the raven with the broken wing…
Now memories course through me. There is an eerie stillness; even the most cheerful birds have ceased their singing. Poor girl... she tried so hard to convince the raven that life was worth living, but the pain of the wing was too overpowering. The foolish creature decided it was strong enough to fly away from the tree, and of course, crashed to the ground. If I think hard enough, I can still hear the sickening crunch of its bones snapping. I can also hear the wracking sobs that shook the girl’s whole body. These are the sounds I never want to hear again, replaying over and over. They don’t seem to want to go away.
Fortunately, the raven DID survive. It was barely alive when the little sprites from the nearby forest took it away to live with them and only after that was its wing somewhat fixed. I know that to this day, it still has a scar there that will never leave. I see it in the girl’s eyes: she’s remembering this. Every day it haunts her. “What could I have done? What SHOULD I have done?” I hear her mumble to herself.
Why, why, why. That seems to be the heart beat here now. It’s heard in the angst-y buzz of the bees and the short, shrill chirps of each bird.
I look back upon the girl, who’s trying to push the memories away just as I am. I admire her, for the magic of her world calls out to her even during her darkest moments. She is successful. I am not, but I can try to be.
I don’t want her to leave, but sometimes when she comes here, the thick, black storm clouds roll in and she runs around aimlessly, looking for a place to relieve her from the incessant rain that will surely follow. I can’t help her, I’m just a garden, and all I’m capable of doing is watching her. She knows that if she runs, they will chase her to the ends of the earth.
Some days she finds a place where she can hide from them.
Some days, she cannot, and lays defeated amongst the weeds of the garden, letting the rain soak her. It irritates me: They like to target her when she comes here to just be lazy and relax for once. She longs to lie in the grass and sniff the flowers. She can’t do it, the clouds never permit her. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…
However, I notice a slight difference in the way she carries herself today. It’s not quite as craven, but it’s still hesitant. Trembling a little bit, she steps slowly, her bare feet feeling the soil with trepidation.
It has become still, yet again. Even the foolish squirrels have stopped chattering. Then, she looks at the pile of jagged stones that she is yet to smoothen. She looks at the flowers dying around her. As though on cue, rain starts again. I can’t control what happens here, for I’m not Mother Nature. Knowing this fills me with an incredible ache, I wish that I could make them go away. I want them to leave.
Then, I realize that these rain clouds are different somehow to. They aren’t the unforgiving rainclouds that follow her, they’re something else. Looking at her, I know that even amidst the pouring rain, she’s got a sort of strength to her. Not power. Not bravery. Maybe not even confidence. I see it in her, as she looks for only a cursory moment at the oak tree in the center. It gives her a newfound element, that strength, that even I am not fully able of grasping.
Her ocean eyes blink away any signs of sadness, and she once more takes in the beauty of me, the place that’s been a home to her. She turns and ever so carefully begins to leave. As she walks, she thinks of how blessed she has been to get to spend so many days here, but now it is time for her to move on. I just know it. Inhaling and exhaling her last breath of sweet October garden air, she turns and goes to face reality. That action is enough to make the storm clouds dissipate, and then with them, she dissipates too.
In so little time, I realize how different it is without her. She’s never coming back.
Alas, the sun has found his moment. It’s time for him to set now…
In this final moment I know that the whole purpose of my existence was living up to this. I helped her realize that she belongs elsewhere, in the real world. At last, she’s completely gone, and the cold night has seeped in. It is silent, there is no light left in this world of me.
Why. Why. Why.