Chapter 1 – Far Away

It was a hot summer’s day at the end of June. The birds were singing through the trees and the thick meadows were waving gingerly in an almost present breeze, a breeze that was tickling life into the cornucopia of plants that made up the show garden. The roses wilted, the palm trees sighed and the lilies in the pond sacrificed themselves, allowing their smooth lush pads to become burned in an effort to shroud the depths where the fish sought refuge their shade. 

The garden was made up of several parts including pristine formal flowerbeds, showing blooms of every shade imaginable laid perfectly in rows like ladies lining a prestigious walkway dressed up in expensive ball gowns. Beyond this, nameless statues and figurines lined a pond with a tiered column of flowing water. To the side there was a mock woodland area with plantations of too many types of tree to name, with pathways of lush green grass weaving in and out, which spilled out into a striped lawn. Beyond this was what seemed like a natural meadow, which was in fact man-made, sporting a variety of grasses, heathers, thistles, poppies and other wild flowers and crop plants.

They had been in amongst the artificially wild setting since mid-afternoon having had their first picnic together. They were now discussing the frivolous parts of their lives, sharing dreams and wishes and making fun at each-others ideas in an affectionate way. At the mention of a fairy-tale wedding set in in a castle, they descended into child’s play rolling around in the grass, laughing, screaming, and expressing each-others love with the simplicity of a solitary kiss. She had a name like Sarah and wore a plain summer dress akin to that of a child of 1940s; a loose fitting off-white shade, embellished with and army of tiny flowers in red, blue and gold. She wore her long straight mousy hair pinned back behind her elven like ears but free to move. As she came to rest on top of him, she smiled a soul melting smile and laughed; you could see that this was the only life she wanted as the unshielded depths of her crystal blue eyes were alight with an invitation to the joy in her heart. It was a moment of pure bliss.

It was late. The chill of a setting sun engulfed the air around James, and remembered he was alone as he had been all day, stood on the lawn peering longingly at the meadow beyond The garden around him seemed so full of life yet each tree, each flower seemed to be a eulogy to some past life, each being named. How can something so full of life seem so dead? What beauty was there in this empty graveyard of a garden?

James had never visited this garden before, and had chanced upon it on one of his many walks. He loved to go out walking. He would say it was to find himself, but he never did. Sometimes it helped him to think, to work things out, however recently it hadn’t been working. The temperature had dropped and he knew he needed to make his way home. He walked between the flower beds seeing the petals of each plant still dripping off the rainwater from the stormy weather that had passed earlier in the day. Reading the many names both labelling their type and the past life they represented, James felt the stillness surrounding him, trying to keep him from leaving. Once he had left the gardens, it would only a short trip around the lake, too shorter distance before embracing reality once more. Somehow he wasn’t ready to leave; he would never return to this place, for in a few days he would be moving to a new chapter in his life. He knew somehow, that instead of finding a part of himself, this time he would be leaving a part behind.

James closed his eyes for just more than a second to fix the image of that mysterious companion into his memory, and then left. Still he wished she wasn’t such a stranger in his life, and yet as things were changing all too soon around him, he felt as though she would always be that stranger he’d fallen for, but never sought the courage to tell.

A single solitary tear left his eye, rolled down his cheek and fell into the nothingness between the blades of grass that had once supported his feet.