Ava’s Garden

In May it will have been twelve years since I started growing it. The garden in the backyard is my pride and joy, although I never let anyone in. Its rows of foxgloves and its exquisite maple tree whose branches teetered over the fence and onto the street behind it, were my getaway. The lilacs in rows, the roses growing up the fence, the greenery perfectly placed. It’s all mine. Until, about five years ago. A family had moved in across the street, a young couple and their eight year old daughter. In the sixty years before I had the garden, no one had wanted to stay in that house for more than a year or two. It had never been a home, just a house.

I didn’t care much for neighbours anyways, I had no business with their small talk and brunches. I had no business with the new neighbours until the day their little girl knocked on my door with a smile on her face and a pie in her hands. “Hi! My name’s Ava, and my family just moved in across the street. We baked you an apple pie!” she announced. I thanked her, and sent her off as the sun was setting. I placed the apple pie on the coffee table and let its sweet scent smother the halls of my home; from the breakfast nook to the window seat of the spare room.

I woke up to the scent of apples and fresh fallen rain, the classic recipe for a good day. The smallest things set my days on their paths. The lack of adventure that they held, left little to be enjoyed; so details like a storm or a bird’s song put my days in the right or wrong direction. I made my way down the ancient mahogany staircase that I knew so well, while the dew strung cobwebs outside my windows twinkled in the sunlight like  stars on a string of twine. I then made my way to the garden, and watered a couple of sections, as the sky had done my work for me.

The rest of my day was not so picturesque. I made an omelette and drank my tea while filling in the sudoku of yesterday’s newspaper. I devoured the second half of my Edgar Allan Poe complete works book, and drank another cup of tea. The sun had started it’s journey to the other side of the world, leaving a deep rosy sky, splashed with coral here and there. All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door; it was Ava. I opened the door to her ear to ear grin and a look of excitement. “Hello Miss! I saw that you have white roses growing out of the corner of your backyard and I just wanted to say they are so cool! I’ve never been allowed to grow my own garden and my parents are much too lazy to keep up with theirs.” She spat out. “Well thank you very much Ava. I’ve been growing the garden for almost twelve years now.” I replied. I had an idea in the spur of the moment. I was hesitant to vocalize it. “Would you like to see it?” I blurted out. Her eyes lit up right as she said “Could I?”. I nodded and led her to the rickety barn wood door.

I pushed on it lightly, and it opened with a creak. We stood in awe, eyes wide, like we were both seeing it for the first time. White roses surrounding the perimeter, and sunflowers touching the sky; it was beautiful. Ava looked up at me grinning, and I gave her a nod. She ran into the garden, and for once I didn’t care about the flowers getting ruined, as long as the garden was making someone else happy.“Can I climb it?” she said pointing distinctly at the tree. “Of course”, I smiled back. She climbed and climbed until she teetered over the fence on one of the trees branches. She looked at me, looked back over the fence, and giggled; as if she was looking at a whole new universe.

695 words.

“The Summer Months”

They called her strange, dangerous, and superstitious. She called herself strange, happy and understanding. She lived in a town of like minded, small minded people where everything was just a bit colder than it was in surrounding villages. The brown leaves twirled in the breeze as if they had somewhere to be, and to many this would seem special, but it was the same every morning. In the fall the leaves were rusty; old. Some enjoyed pretending they were orange but truly, they were brown and they were rotting. In the winter they were dead, and the leaves that spun in the wind were exchanged for snowflakes that tiptoed through the frigid air. Spring brought some hope as buds were born from longing tree branches, and finally summer came, and the leaves, green as the emerald city, were finally alive. This was her outlook, that one is only alive for a portion of a lifetime. For her the trees put a story into something physical. Yes she knew that many people reached some sort of life expectancy, but she also knew that everyone had a prime, their golden years, the summer of their lifetime. No one knew how she thought, but they had all decided that the summer of her life was long gone.

 

She had attended Clearwater High School in the town of Mansfield Massachusetts. Everything was as it should be; until it was not. There was no particular reason for the disturbance that had come about, but people had started talking. She didn’t continue with her friends onto university; she didn’t live at home with her parents anymore; and she certainly didn’t care what anyone thought of her. She had developed her own pond of thoughts, they swam through her mind, but never left her mouth. The townspeople had taken this as the end of her life’s summer, and her descent into fall. Her old friends had decided that she wasn’t normal, and that she was by no means to be accepted. At first it made her feel like she was at a dead end, or even worse– a cliff’s edge.  She felt consumed by the knowledge of what people talked about, so, she left. Within the next year she was moved into the last house on the end of a street that led right out of town, and she had somehow stepped past the cliff’s edge without falling.  People wondered why an entire year, but she decided to keep that to herself.

 

When fall came she picked a rotting leaf, and pretended it was orange. When winter came she searched for a dead leaf before the first snowfall. When spring came she picked a pale and miniscule leaf off a bent branch. And when summer came, she picked a lush forest leaf, it was new, and it was old, and it was everything that her year was. She kept the four  leaves in a small ornate golden box beside her bed in her new home. Some would call them her good luck charm, but she saw them as 365 days. And as leaves do, when they get picked from trees, they died one by one. The summer leaf was the last to go, and when it did she was settled into her home, she felt strange and content. The four leaves rested in the golden box for many years, unopened, just as her memories of that solemn year stayed untouched in a corner of her mind. She had her own ideas, and just because they were opposing to the ideas of the people she used to know, did not mean they were wrong. They weren’t wrong, nor were they right, but they were her. And at that thought, she started the stroll into her lifetimes summer months with a carefree skip, and a wandering mind.

 

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