The Garden

I remember my first day of finishing school clearly. Nightingale finishing school for Girls was buzzing with pupils, ready for the new school year ahead of them, and telling tales of their . I felt out of place. It might have been that I had the wrong hairstyle, or that my shoes were not the right style, maybe it was the fact that I had nobody to talk to, maybe it was all of these. I know now that it was something much stranger than that, a power that repelled certain people away from me – it was like trying to attract wrong ends of magnets together.
I saw a group of girls and decided they must have been the “popular” clique. There was a buzzing air around them, as well as a larger crowd. They were all stunning; with not a hair out of place. They looked over to me as I stood alone. The look was icy, and I presumed this was just because I was the “new girl”, an outcast. I turned away and found a place to sit alone, when I felt a sharp tap on my back. It was one of the girls from the corner.
She had waist-long, wavy butter-coloured hair. Some of her hair was secured with a very ornate cameo pin. Her fluttering eyelashes curled upwards in the most graceful fashion. Even her drab school uniform seemed to suit her perfectly. She had the elegance and beauty of an exotic white tiger. I turned around and said nothing; I was far too intimidated to answer. It seemed as if the tiger was ready to pounce.

“Who are you?” There was a sharp pause. “You must be the new girl then.”
I tried to reply but simply couldn’t. It was like trying to talk when under the pressure of deep water. She looked at me as if I were a leper. Offended, she mumbled something inaudible and snarled like a dog,
“What’s the matter with you? I want to warn you not to get in the way here. Don’t mess with us and you might just get along here.”
All eyes seemed to be on me as she hurried back to her crowd, to regain her place as “queen bee”. Her friends laughed and then went back to their conversation as if nothing had happened.
Half way through my day, I knew that I wouldn’t fit in very well; I was frustrated at the fact that I might not find any friends at all. As soon as we were allowed a free period and retire to the hall again, I escaped to the great library. It was a large, magnificent room, which looked as if I could blend in and not be noticed by anyone. The walls, books and floor were my only company. I reflected over my day and what had happened. Nobody understood what I was going through, and how difficult it was for me to speak to them. This triggered thought about my late mother.
She died at the tender age of 33. Mostly, I’m over the death of my mother. At the time of her death, I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought that I was too young to be wearing a black dress; only older women seemed to wear them. It was more uncomfortable than my normal dress and I didn’t want to wear it at all. I didn’t understand at my young age that it would have been unacceptable, and disrespectful to my dead mother, for me not to. The clothes my mother dressed me in were much more comfortable, and they smelt of her scent wherever I went.
The week after her death, I started to wonder where she had gone. I missed her greatly after a few weeks, because my father was much stiffer and stricter, if he was there for us at all. He seemed more into his work and gambling than caring for his children.
My personality, as well as my brothers’, changed at this point. I became much more reserved, unwilling to talk to anyone other than my brothers. I didn’t particularly feel like talking to them either; I only talked to them when it was necessary. Nobody seemed to worry about me, either. I spent most of my time in our luscious garden. I enjoyed the cool shade of the willow tree in the summer; there I could hear the sweet birds chirping. I could smell the blooming flowers, their rich colours like confectionery to the eyes. Here was the only place I could find peacefulness, and shut myself out from the rest of the uncaring world. I disliked my father for what he had done; he was responsible for sending me here…
“Hello.” My quiet thoughts were interrupted. “I wondered if you knew where the gardens were.”
I looked up at my intruder, confused. There were no gardens, as far as I knew, at this school. He was a tall boy, of about fifteen years. I noticed that he wasn’t very handsome, but there was a mysterious air about him which made him seem attractive. I wondered what he was doing here; this was a girls’ finishing school after all. I attempted to say that I was new here, and didn’t know where it was, but all that came out was a muffled squeak:
“No, sorry.” He started to walk away. He turned around and said
“Oh, okay. Good night. And may I say that you have the prettiest eyes I have ever seen.”
I blushed violently, and went back to my book about wild animals.
That night I had a spectacularly vivid dream. I could see luscious green grass and fragrant flowers filled the space. I saw the beautiful colours of the wildlife; exotic birds and unidentifiable mammals. There was a small spinney which caught my eye; the branches were waving slowly in the cool breeze, and a pool of sparkling water beside it. The landscape was truly beautiful; it was like being in a different world.
I saw my mother reflected in the water where I leant over. She looked as beautiful as ever, as beautiful as a rose. She was slightly different from what I remember, as if she had bloomed further. Her face was a little more blushing and her nose was slightly more pointed. Her strawberry-blonde locks looked just like mine, as well as her beautifully deep blue-green eyes.
I realised after a few seconds that this was not my mother, but I. I was truly taken aback by how much I looked like my mother; I suppose I had not before looked into my own reflection properly.
That was the day that changed my life. I had not experienced such a vivid dream before, but they started to happen much more often. They started to affect my concentration in the school; I longed to be outside, free, with no cares and responsibilities. I thought that it was just my imagination running wild, and longing for my comfortable past back.
Having an appearance like my mother’s helped my self-confidence. I was sure that she was extremely beautiful. I knew that I could never look as dazzling, as striking as her, but I knew that I was certainly not ugly. I noticed that my voice was coming through once again; no longer a muffled squeal. However, I still felt like hardly anyone liked me. I spent my evenings in the library, my secret hideaway. I was starting to get used to this school; life wasn’t as bad as it used to seem.
A year later, and my evenings were still as normal, uninterrupted and peaceful. I felt a wave of sleep come over me, so I closed my book and curled up into a ball. I didn’t realise at the time that this was not in a most ladylike fashion; my tiredness seemed to take over. It was not unusual to feel tired after a long day, so thought nothing of it at the time.
Whilst in my sleep, I had another vivid dream. It was pleasant, the season in my world seemed to have changed to winter, but it was still beautiful. A soft blanket of snow covered the grass, and sparkling ice covered the pool of water where I often sat and thought about my mother. The leaves had left the trees in the spinney, and a layer of frost covered them. It was quite spectacular, everywhere sparkled and dazzled in the midday sun. I stumbled over a root in the spinney, but a striking evergreen bush broke my fall.
“I’m sorry for my impoliteness,” I was awoken. It was a boy, the same boy that I had come across on my first day at this school. “But I wondered if I could talk to you?”
I felt shy, but also warmed by his presence. Something about him made me feel slightly more comfortable than usual. This feeling was similar to the one I had when my mother was still alive. I was daydreaming, and didn’t realise; there was a pause in the conversation.
“It’s just that… I feel as if we are in the same situation.” He said, and sat down on the couch next to me. As I was slightly taken aback by this, I said nothing. My face asked the questions.
“My mother died when I was young. I came here because I sensed that someone with the power was near.” He said, gently. “I know that you’ve had trouble fitting in, just like I did. People like me and you don’t, generally. People can sense that you have something different, which wards them off.”
I was slightly confused, so I decided to ask him what the power was. Was it the power to enter a secret garden in my sleep?
“What is the power?”
“It is when you have the ability to enter a supernatural world, full of peace and harmony whenever you wish. I gained mine a few years after my mother died; she passed the power on to me. That is why I asked you last year whether you knew the way to the gardens.”
I began to understand. This boy truly knew what I was feeling, and I could talk to him, as if I were a normal girl and my feelings mattered to him; he could empathise with me and vice versa. We instantly connected and I felt at ease. I couldn’t believe that I had met someone who knew how I felt, and what my life was like! We had been talking for two hours before I noticed that I was late to my dorm room.
“I have to go…” I said.
He asked me if I could stay for just a little while longer.
I knew that inside, I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay with him forever, but simply had to go. I left after a couple of minutes. I was ecstatic; I couldn’t have asked for more than a friend at that point in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without somebody to understand me, at least for one day. I never did ask what he was doing at our girls’ school that day; the thought never crossed my mind whilst our conversation was flowing. It flowed like a river, never ending, and as we continued to meet it stayed that way. We shared our secret desires and passions, as well as sharing the stories of our past.
Together, we also discovered that we could enter the garden with each other. I don’t know how it happened, but as we held each other in a warm embrace, the light appeared. We did so more and more, and over the days, weeks and months, the garden appeared to bloom – just like our friendship. The garden’s wildlife became more and more stunning. Even the non-living pool appeared to be spilling with life.
He was my only friend, and I wanted it to stay that way, forever.

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