The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

A Story by Bleda
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What do you do, when you have everything?

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‘Dear Sarah. I promised I’d write, and here I am. I cannot begin to tell you how lovely my tour has been. The kids have been well behaved, and have thoroughly enjoyed themselves (Mila will write to you shortly!), and I am so glad you let them come along with me, even though it was an ‘official’ tour, as you may still call it. Don’t think that we didn’t miss you though, honey! Little Jake wants to fly you here on a Nimbus 2001! I think it was a great idea to bring the children down here, to see our roots.

 

In the process of writing this letter to you, I am multitasking as usual. There are piles of portfolios on my desk along with half-written reports and other documents you wouldn’t want to hear about, as well as untouched dinner lying- somewhere. Don’t worry. The kids are asleep.

 

The night is cool and still, and the constellations shine bright, just like that night, fifteen years ago. I look out of the window- and as they say, it’s the same moon, same stars, same midnight blue of the sky- but nothing’s really the same you know. The moon is full, the stars are fewer in number, and the midnight blue of the sky mingles with the smoky haze from the factories of the nearby town of St. Mary.  I know I’ve told you this before, Sarah, and you must be bored of me saying this to you so many times, but that is where I first met her, among the oaks of the suburbs, playing with her little hamster. That is where I saw the innocent, Nile blue eyes and the lofty charcoal black hair hanging softly down her shoulders. Her little hands clapped every time she saw a plane in the sky, and the leaves of the trees danced to the rhythm of her little feet. That is where I met Eve.

 

I was twenty nine then; lived alone and was unmarried. The teenagers of Gale City were working on a project promoting arts and culture and they needed monetary help- so I sponsored their events. Barbara, Dean, Hammonds, they were all like my children. I was always rich. My business prospered, I started sponsoring rock concerts and youth led festivals. I could’ve given up working, because I had enough money to last me two lifetimes. You ask me why I wasn’t famous then? Well I barely got any time to flaunt. I had three houses to take care of, with three garden, three swimming pools and one hungry cat. Taking photographs was the only thing that kept the fuel in me going. I wanted to work like everyone else. I kept life frenetic.

 

That Friday night, I was walking through the suburbs, trying to get to St. Mary on foot. I was tired, but I thought I might as well take a few snaps while I was at it. It was nine o’clock, and unlike Manhattan, Gale City was always ‘early to bed’. That is why I found it rather awkward that a child should be playing with her hamster under an oak tree so late at night. At first, I thought she was a ghost, in her gossamer nightgown. When I came back to reality, I thought that this needed an explanation.

 

“Hello love,” said I, putting my camera down, hoping not to scare her.

“Hi”, she said, smilingly, still playing with the hamster.

“I’m Albert. What’s your name?”

“Would you like to see my garden?” she smiled.

“Why I’d love to my dear, but what should I call you?”

“My name is Evelyn Rochester. I’m nine years old. I’m from 17, Wood Street, St. Mary. Do you like Muppy?”

“Muppy?”

“Yes, I’m playing with her. She’s my friend.”

I smiled, “Yes I like Muppy. She’s adorable. But Evelyn, shouldn’t you be asleep right now? It’s very late you know. I see you live right here. But do your parents know you’re out here so late?”

“My parents don’t love me, really,” she said, slowly putting Muppy into the cage, “I used to love my father a lot, but now I hate him. And my mother is always scolding me because I lose things. And we’re not rich, so I steal sometimes. I don’t mean to. It just … happens.”

I sat down, “What do you mean, dear?”

“My father’s uncle was a mean person. He kissed me once, and touched me in a funny way like in the movies. Not like Ma, Dad, or Grandma touch me and kiss me. It was not nice. I didn’t like it. I feel ugly. So I hate my father, for having an uncle like that. But he died last year, so I shouldn’t speak of him this way.”

 

I stared at her in awe. I would have hugged her and tried to comfort her, but I was afraid. What Evelyn told me was a horror story.

 

“What’s your father like, Mr. Albert?” she asked.

“I don’t know Eve,” said I, “My father died when I was five years old. But let’s not talk about that. Tell me more about yourself. How’s school? Who’s your best friend?”

“School’s not nice,” said she, “It used to be very good, but then I started getting bad grades, so my mother hits me a lot. I don’t like it. And my best friend? She was a very bad person. She started calling me a s**t because Dave and Tom and all the other good looking boys talk to me. I don’t know what a s**t is, but Candice told me it was a bad word- like ‘f**k’. Muppy is my new best friend. Don’t you like her?”

 

I was scandalized. Nine years old, and all this? Maybe I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. But something told me I was the right person. I didn’t get up and walk away. I sat there, staring at the little girl in awe.

 

Suddenly the door of the cabin behind us opened, and a woman with red hair ran out and stood right behind us, looking at me with disgust.

 

“Who are you?” she said.

“I’m Albert Thomas, ma’am,” I replied, “I found your daughter playing with Muppy here, so I was talking to her, trying to get her to go back home, ma’am.”

“And with no luck,” she said, “Eve, get in.”

 

I stood outside for a few minutes, hands in my pockets for it was getting cold. I heard a lot of screaming and shouting and scores of verbal abuses that came from the little girl. Poor thing. She barely knew the seriousness of her state. I decided that I should come back the next day, and meet her.

 

Next morning was a lazy morning for me. I woke up at ten, somehow managed to make myself some porridge and nearly chopped off my index finger while slicing the strawberries. After my daily tour in Gale City, I walked through the suburbs and reached Evelyn’s house. I realized that I would not be welcome, so I walked around the place till dusk, taking pictures to wile away my time. Not a sound came from the cabin of the Rochester’s. I spent my time kicking stones into the stream, and then became conscious of the fact that I had no business to be there. So I went back home.

 

Three weeks passed by, and I almost forgot about her. The youth led carnival was a grand success. The international bands played on, and I travelled to Sweden, France, Belgium and Georgia in just three weeks. It was a Saturday when I was passing the market in the suburbs when someone ran behind me and hugged me tight.

 

“Mr. Albert!” cried a voice that sounded very similar.

“Evelyn!” I recalled and gave her a high five. She was wearing a beautiful black full sleeved frock and black ballerina shoes- just like the ones you used to have, Sarah.

“What are you doing here?” she inquired, with a basket of peaches in her arm.

“Just strolling down to St. Mary proper, what about you?”

“Buying peaches.”

“Ah, shopping for mother huh? Good girl.”

“No.”

I hesitated, “Well … then?”

“Muppy left me. She ran away into the woods when I was sleeping last night. I’m buying peaches because that’s what I do when my best friend turns into an enemy.”

“So it’s like a ritual?”

“You can say.”

“What… what do you do with them?”

“Why I eat them of course,” she said, “I eat a lot when I get upset. Ma says it’s a bad thing, but I don’t care.”

 

My eyes caught sight of a few red lines on her wrist. They were horrifying, jagged, and not wept clean. It was dry blood. At first I thought I should take her to the hospital. Then, I thought about her parents. I was in a soup. I didn’t know what to do.

 

I tried to calm myself. After taking a few deep breaths, I asked, “Eve, have you been hurting yourself?”

“I should, shouldn’t I?” said the girl, “Everyone blames me for everything. I blame me for everything. It’s not nice. But I deserve it.”

“No one deserves to hurt themselves, Eve,” said I, “You have a full life ahead of you! Don’t you want to do things? Become great one day?”

“When I grow up, I want to have a big garden. I cannot afford a real one now. You know the ones with little streams and bridges? And yellow lights that light up at night? Also, I want to have a husband. Mother tells me that I’ll never get married because of my temper and because I start hating the people I love most. But that won’t happen. I know it. I want to have a family. A nice, happy family. And dress up my children like I dress up my Barbie dolls. I want to adopt poor children too! I would play with them all day long, and they’ll never feel poor again!”

“That really is lovely my dear. Very noble thoughts. My dear Eve, if only you’d understand that this is not the way you go about behaving-” But before I could say anything else, Eve cut me short.

“Would you like to see my garden?”

 

I walked with her as she took me to the woods. The sparkling stream flowed in front of us, toppling and laughing as the waves danced over the rocks and pebbles. The sky was belching blue with a tinge of orange and gold. The mushrooms sheltered the little insects. Birds sang their endless tunes and butterflies did their ballet. The leaves dripped with dew and the sweet smell of wet earth encompassed everything. There was something magical about it, something enchanting. It was truly a beautiful place. That, was Eve’s garden.

I was never to see Eve again of course. After dropping her home, I got a call from Las Vegas, and had to go away immediately. I came back after a month of good times- but Eve was always on my mind. I spoke to a child counselor, and understood that Eve is going through serious mental and emotional problems. I decided that I would personally go and speak to Eve’s parents, no matter how much they refuse to talk to me. I flew to Gale City earlier than the others, and drove to Eve’s place. To my utter horror, I came to know from the sheriff, that 17, Wood Street was burned down in a fire two weeks ago. Nothing was left of the family. Everything was in ashes.

I went back home with a heavy heart. For the first time in my life, with all my houses and gardens, cats and swimming pools, I felt lonely. I really felt genuinely lonely.

 

And so Sarah, this is where I end my letter. I am pensive tonight, and you may think I’m out of my mind, but tonight I really miss Eve, and I regret not being able to do anything for her. But somewhere deep in my soul, I know that Eve is out there, alive and breathing, and leading a happy married life. A simple life. With children like yours. A life she had always wanted.

 

Take care of Brian. I hope he gets well soon! I know letters are outdated, but you’re my favourite sister, and I love you. The kids will call you tomorrow morning again. God bless.

 

                                                 Your brother,

                                                          Al.’

 


Somewhere in St. Mary, a young woman smiles as she opens the wooden door to her little bungalow. Inside, there is a birthday party going on, with about fifteen children laughing and shrieking in joy. The young woman kisses her husband and looks back at a basket of chocolates that she left on the doorstep.

 

“Who’s that for, sweetheart?” asks her husband.

“For the fairies, the lost girls and the lost boys,” she replied.

 

They laughed and kissed again as they walked in. The young woman shut the door behind her. The young woman with the Nile blue eyes.

© 2012 Bleda


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This writing really drew me into itself. You have used a unique format to convey a situation that really makes the reader to get totally absorbed into it. Wonder use of imagery and style. The ending that ties together the disappointment and the hope of the whole situation. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on September 1, 2012
Last Updated on September 1, 2012
Tags: Short Story

Author

Bleda
Bleda

Calcutta, India



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A little bit of magic dust, a little bit of moonshine, Quarter inch of reality and a bit of faith divine. If you want to travel with me, and see what's in store, Read through my writings if you wa.. more..

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