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The Garden shed
‘Can I go play outside?’
‘Of course you can, just put on your play shoes, not your school ones’
‘Okay then mummy, see you!’
‘Have a nice time’ Jack’s mother said dreamily.
Jack stepped down from his seat at the breakfast table, where he had eaten a fried egg, sunny side up. He ran to the door to the garden, and excitedly slipped on his green wellingtons, which always reminded him of frogs sitting on lily pads, sucking in flies to their mouth greedily whenever one passed above their heads.
As he reached up for the doorknob, feet pressed into tiptoes, his mother strolled into the kitchen to wash the dishes, with a tiny little smile on the edges of her lips, her mind on memories of events that happened years ago, trying to re-live these precious moments. Jack managed to turn the doorknob, and press open the door, a skill that had recently been acquired. He jumped into the garden; fantasies of what might what happen in it zooming around in his head like excited fleas in a sweaty alleyway.
As soon as he stepped out, his eyes were ablaze with the many wonders of an autumn day. The birds, singing their tales. The color of the leaves, like wooden wonders in a carpenters workshop. The grass, still glistening with morning dew, reflecting the shrouded sunlight. There was a faint mist in the air, clouding Jack’s view of this wonderland. The garden was about one hundred meters long, and only eight meters wide. But to Jack, it was an endless land; it was a castle, brimming with knights and monarchs, it was the moon of Neptune, blindingly sunny and with the heat of a thousand suns. It was anything that Jack could imagine in his little head that housed a giant mind. And as he ran around this blank canvas of imagination, picking insects off plants, chasing pigeons, climbing trees, he laughed in perfect, innocent, happiness.
Jack was at the tender age of seven, and did not know of pain, or aggravation. He only knew of falling on your knees, or not getting to see grandpa even when mummy said you would, and these were the worst things that could appear in his unbreakably fantastic world. He had locks of blond hair that fell down over his eyes, and a skinny body, showing off his ribs as if he were a skeleton. He had a thin face, and he looked as if he were about to reach years of growth, but just wasn’t there yet. He was the same child that every man or women was at some point, with the eyes full of questions unanswered, and with no intention of changing that. So as he gracefully danced through the garden of unlimited scenarios, he reached the end of it, and saw the only thing in the garden that he had only a few times searched through, and portrayed it in imaginary games as a fort, or a car, or a komodo dragon, one of Jack’s favorite animals. It was the shed, that his father had built, before he had left, before his heart got in argument with his brain, and it stopped working. That's what mummy said happened. It had been one of Jacks deepest fears, so he had a collection of endless scraps of paper in the back of his closet, all with the illustration of a heart, all with the same message:
‘You're my favorite bit of the body-please don’t get angry at the rest of me’
Jack, in a hypnotized stare, pulled the edge of the door. It was stuck. He pulled harder. It still would not open. He pulled with the might he did not know he had, his face red, grunting in effort, and his fingertips in a frenzy of squashed pain. Just when he did not know if he could last this bout of fury, the wooden door swung open, pushing Jack backwards, falling into the green, fresh grass. Jack lifted his head, and saw the inside of the shed. Trembling, he stood up, and crept into the forbidden wasteland that was his father’s last message. All that it housed was tools, tools and dust. Dust blocked the windows, and blanketed the walls. Dead spiders lay in the corners, with the look of defeat on their thin, bent legs. Their was a workbench in the middle of the cramped shed, with a half cut piece of wood, saw still inside, as if someone were to return to it after a dinner with their newly born son, a dinner that they would not get to fully eat, the last dinner they would ever eat.
Jack threw tools outside, searching for hidden wonders in this little hut. He searched and searched, and threw more and more tools out of the door, until there was nothing but a shovel inside the now empty shed. Above Jack, there was a shelf that was just too far to reach, even when feet were bent into tiptoes. He picked up the shovel, and with a mighty push, thudded against the shelf. In an instant, a square flew down onto the earth, and glass shattered all over the floor. Jack, in a terrified daze, slowly crept over to this square, and picked it up, careful not to cut himself on its many points. He turned it over, and saw a layer of glass, a part of it fallen out. He wiped the layers of dust that blocked out the image below it with his thumb, and saw what lay beneath it. It was a photograph. It showed a man, with a beaming smile, and chocolate brown hair. He wore a red woolen sweatshirt, and jeans. In his arms there was a bundle of blankets. No, something was in the blankets. Jack peered closer into the blurry photo, and saw that there was a person in the blanket. A little, newly born person. It was Jack. And the man was his father. Just like that, memories bundled into his head, memories of a man, warm and safe, with the scent of cologne, and the eyes of a man who knew everything. A man with the answers to every question that could be asked. A man who was his father. Tears welled up in Jack’s eyes, and fell onto the photograph. Something opened up in Jack, a certain longing that he never knew he had. There was a hole in his soul; a hole that he knew would stay with him. Sadness is a terrible thing, which evolved in Jack, evolved into anger. Jack picked up the lonely shovel, and smashed it into the dust-blanketed window. It exploded outwards, in a series of violent sparkles. A smile slowly crept up Jack’s face, like a blooming sun in the midst of the rain shower, which were his tears. And a rainbow appeared in his eyes, because when there was no control of what was happening, he knew he could just break something, in an instant. Have control over something in a time of uncontrollable emotion.
Jack grabbed the shovel out of the smashed window frame, and in a flowing succession, smashed the other two windows. Glass flew everywhere, the sun reflecting off them in bouts of green and blue. Jack, his mind drowning in a pool of sweet violence, swung the shovel so that it hit the opposing wall bluntly. This shovel was just a little lighter than Jack, and was held with all the might that Jack could muster. Jack charged at the wall again. The shovel bounced off. Jack pounded against the seamlessly unbreakable wall. Again, the shovel bounced off. Jack, who was apparently in a battle with a tyrannical giant, threw the shovel at the wall like it was goliath. Goliath fell. The paneled wall got a shovel-sized hole in its middle, like a belly button for the now broken wall. Jack, pleased with himself for creating something for the shed, took the selfless pleasure of smashing the door’s rusted hinges repetitively, until the top one came off altogether, and floated towards the ground, the safe, explored ground. Jack stared at the ground, pondering whether or not to go back to it. No, Jack would not leave something that he started. He dropped the shovel onto the lower hinge, which broke without a fight. Jack beamed, and strolled out the recreated shed. The tools were lying all over the garden, like exhausted dogs, laying down for an afternoon nap. Over by the rose bushes, a wheelbarrow lay. In a dance like sequence, Jack sprinted over to it, and grabbed hold of its elegant grips. He pushed it all the way back to the shed, and flipped it onto its side by the windowless windows. He stealthily stood up on it, and shakily lifted himself onto the windowsill. Jack was careful not to choose the one with bits of glass pointing this way and that. The creator lifted himself all the way to the roof, and crawled to the top. In a few minutes of kneeling on this momentous structure, he stood up. He was a superhero, his silky hair flowing in the chilly wind. He picked up his shovel, his trustworthy sidekick. Jack pulled the shovel way above his head and in a moment of deep wonder, crushed it into the roof’s surface. Surprised by his own strength, Jack broke straight threw the roof, and the shovel fell down to earth. Still grasping it, so did Jack. The structure shook at the impact of Jack’s weight, and decided that it could not take it. Jack fell right through the ceiling, to fall onto the wooden earth, parts of the roof surrounding him like a flock of birds, flying south in search for glorious warmth.
The shed was nearly finished of Jack’s work, but not yet. It had no roof, was drastically slanted onto one side, and had bits of glass lying all over it. But of course it was not finished-yet. Out of the side of his eye, the blond boy peered at a casket of water. No, it wasn’t water. Jack turned his head, and his eyes opened in opportunity. A casket of petrol lay there. Edging towards it, Jack maniacally chuckled. But it was not an insane chuckle, it was a chuckle that only people that had the same hobby could share; a chuckle for vandals, and pyromaniacs. For in the world’s eyes they were destructors, but in their eyes they were artists. Artists of a new age, because art has to change at some point. If no one had ever dared to change art, then we would still be drawing cave paintings. Fine art is something that only geniuses can dream of, but can only be carried out by the bravest. Jack, with these thoughts bumping and crashing like bumper cars in his head, picked up the box of matches that he had been searching for, and smiled, a pure innocent smile.
Drip, Drip, Drip. The oil slowly coated the construction. Drip, Drip, Drip. Jack was nearly done. The shed was no longer really a shed; it was more of a pile of wood, connected at parts. In a way though, Jack found it looked better. It looked like it was a coffin, or a time capsule of sorts, which was capsulizing bitter memories. Drip, Drip, Drip. It was fully coated in petrol, with three layers of the dark, foul smelling substance. The box of matches was picked off the ground by dazed, skinny fingers. A wave of panic coursed through Jack, leaving him noxious and nervous. A match was pulled out of the box shakily. It was pulled across the side of the box in a forceful, violent movement. It snapped in half. Thrown into the bushes. Jack pulled out another match, now on the verge of vomiting. The matches were little soldiers, all just doing their part to burn this dirty past. In another movement, this time fluid and strong, the soldier’s head was alight. The flame flickered in the approaching evening wind. Jack could feel warm bile clogging up his throat, and gagged, head leaning toward the ground, but careful not to drop the precious match. Nothing came out, but Goosebumps erupted all over his skin. His head turned back to the wooden pile. Ready and confident, he edged towards the caved in roof, which was a little above his head height. He could see a large puddle of silky black liquid. In a moment of pure anxiety, fingers relinquished, and heels turned, ready to sprint. The coffin was burning in a matter of seconds, and Jack was far enough away that he was not burning, but could still feel the heat. Again, warm, chunky bile rised, and this time it came out. With the heat of the burning on his back, Jack vomited into the bushes, little tears cloaking his cheeks. When he was done, Jack turned back to the burning.
Beautiful. Pure beauty. The flames, leaping over each other like wolves in a pack, intertwined like grapevines. They ran all over the cremating coffin, melting shards of glass, forcing the wood to diminish in order for the flames to survive a little longer. It reflected off Jack’s eyes, turning their deep blue rings into dancing flames. The boy stared into the void, the fiery pit. There was a constant threat that these dancing wolves would discover a large quantity of the petrol, and explode straight into Jack’s face, but the danger was like a pull, like a gravity, pulling him to it, not letting go of him. It talked to him, whispering in crackles. Telling him to stay, that it was just allowing Jack to let go of his father. The hole in his spirit was filled, filled with blacks and reds, and the adrenalin rush that the fire radiated. Jack was hypnotized. The shed was nearly no more. Charcoal lay in places, and the main base of the shed was nearly all burnt. In one final crunch, the roof succumbed to the heat, and was gone. All that remained was a dancing fire, dancing in bliss, dancing because the fire was Jack, and Jack had defeated the shed, and the pain that it carried with it. Jack felt the burden of these memories and aggravation lift, and burn, burn with the wood, melt with the glass, and surrender to the fire’s charming yet malicious personality. Staring, unblinking, Jack paced towards the fire, be one with the fire, be the fire. He was right next to it. He bent down, bent to touch it, longed to touch it, with a lust, a lust for the burn, the heat, and the sheer danger of it. His finger inched towards it, and Jack could already feel his skin melting, when a rustle of autumn leaves caught his ear.
‘Jack? You’ve been out here for hours sweetie, where are y-‘
Jack turned, and saw his mother. His sweet, caring mother. And Jack could see her emotion in her eyes, as she stood there, mouth hanging, speechless. For that shed was a shrine to her, an untouched beauty. A silent, heavy tear dropped from her eye, and carried on down her smooth cheek.
‘J-Jack, how, how could you?’
The fire crackled on around him. Jack looked around him, averting his eyes from his betrayed mother. Jack looked around, at the colorless, exhausted garden, and opened his mouth slightly, as if to apologize. The beauty was lost as Jack peered at the garden, and Jack saw what it really was. He could not perceive the garden as anything but itself, a garden. His fathers last message burned, and Jack could see what he had created from this re-construction. And it was not art, nor beauty. It was reality, blunt, true, reality.