The Garden Wall

Here is the prompt for this week’s Magpie Tales.

This is my story….

The garden wall was almost hidden by blue hydrangeas, the delicate climbing Angel Face roses and the maidenhair ferns Esther had called fairy shawls. It was overgrown but vibrant. Foxgloves, snapdragons and larkspur ambled around the brickwork, a lavish adornment.

Jon had to watch his mother every time she came over. He knew she had her garden shears in that shopping bag she always carried.

You can’t cut any of it away, he said, his voice rising in pitch and cracking a little with pain. It’s all I have left of her.

She’s gone, Jon. His mother’s voice, discordant as a rusty nail down glass, made him wince. It’s time you accepted it and moved on.

His mother didn’t understand. She would bulldoze down every memory he had of her if she could.

His beloved Esther.

He saw her at night. Watering the garden with the old tin watering can she found by the side of the road. Horrified that someone had just thrown it away, she brought it home, giving it pride of place in her favourite spot by the stone wall.

That old watering can, timeworn and discoloured, watered hundreds of flowers. It brought colour and moss and magic to a garden tangled up in green.

Esther became convinced it had otherworldly powers.

No matter what I water with it, it grows, she said.

Jon liked to watch her in the garden, tending the plants like they were her children. She spoke to them, a caress, a whisper, and even though Jon knew it was really the wind, they seemed to bend to her in response.

When the dark days came, when the fear and sorrow ate into his soul so deeply he couldn’t tell if it was death or just silence that had descended; Esther could no longer go out into the garden.

He placed her bed by the window so she could see the Angel Face roses turn from pink to lilac, hiding in the kitchen so she wouldn’t see him cry after watching her watch the garden like a bird in a cage looking at the sky.

I hate you, he scrawled on scraps of paper. Crumpling them up and throwing them out into the street. Hoping that whoever found them would know what he meant, would share his hatred of this life, this time, this place that took everything good away.

Water my babies, she had said right up to the end. Don’t let them thirst.

He glimpsed her sometimes. Tawny gold, resting at the edge of shadows, leaving a bright spot like wattle dusting the ground.

He saw Esther properly for the first time at twilight. Vulnerable as a nightbird not quite used to the dark, but radiant, outlined in light.

She stayed briefly, holding her arms out to the garden, an embrace like clear water running.

Jon remembered that he needed to water the garden.

He tried to use the watering can. It was heavy, unwieldy. The spout leaked greeny- brown water all over his hands. He left it on the wall, full of water, overnight.

In the morning the watering can was empty. The foxgloves stood alert, refreshed. Purple, yellow and white stately bells ready to peal.

Jon examined the base of it. The sides. But there was no evidence of holes.

He filled it again that night. And the next night. And the next.

Every morning it was empty.

And the garden continued to flourish.

A dream not quite ready to end.

And he heard the murmur of the whispers she had left amongst the leaves, in the midst of petals emerging like butterfly wings.

And he knew she would never leave him.

Soft and warm.

Fine as the break of day.

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20 thoughts on “The Garden Wall

  1. Hi Selma, as always you pulled me right into the story and made me able to see and smell the garden. What an inspirational type story. I really wish you would write a book so I could read it. Short stories are great but they always leave me wanting more ! lol

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  2. Another bittersweet tale of love and loss. And new beginnings! Amazing how you can read a story, feel immediately transported from an ordinary living room into a lush garden where you’re picking up on some of the most lovely scents. Well, that’s down to you, Selma and your wonderful stories.

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  3. it may be all in his mind but it’s wonderful, almost joyous to think or to know that your love one is still around somehow even in other forms, a bit sad but I think without the sadness, there wouldn’t be a story

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  4. A magic garden and a magical tale – thanks Selma 🙂 This is effective ‘His mother’s voice, discordant as a rusty nail down glass, made him wince.’ – not thinking of someone in particular were we – haha!

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  5. There is sadness in your stories, and anger… But there is also hope, love, and magic! I love this story Selma, so well written and wonderful! 🙂

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  6. Hi CATHY:
    That is very kind of you to say so. I actually have sent my book out to a few agents. There is one particular agent in Sydney I want to represent me so we shall see if she likes my work or not. This process could take up to 6 months to get anywhere so I’ll keep you posted. I am so grateful for your support!

    Hi WENDY:
    Well, I can say the same thing about you. It is certainly a quality you possess. That’s why I love to read – it sweeps me away to beautiful places!

    Hi HELEN:
    I think Jon will be OK. I am glad you saw the hope there because I wasn’t sure I had communicated it well enough. Thanks so much for saying that.

    Hi GERALDINE:
    Awww. Thank you, G 😀

    Hi CRUSTY CRONE:
    I like a little bit of an otherwordly feel to my stories at time. It is a genre that appeals to me. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Hi LINDA:
    I’m so glad the hope came through. I was worried about that. Whew.

    Hi TERESA:
    Oh, thank you so much. And lovely to meet you.

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  7. Hi HEATHER:
    Hail to thee oh most ancient of water vessels. You have a power all of your own. I am a fan of the watering can. A much underrated implement.

    Hi TUMBLEWORDS:
    I like to think that even during times of loss there can be hope. I appreciate you saying that!

    Hi TIPOTA:
    Oh, that means a lot to me. Your comment is like a poem.

    Hi LISSA:
    I think you’re right. Sometimes you’ve got to write about the sadness to get to the good stuff. We need that contrast. But maybe it wasn’t all in his head, maybe Esther really was in the garden *insert spooky organ music here*

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    Now come on, Gabe. None of my characters are based on real people. That would be most unfair. I can’t think what you mean 😆

    Hi JENNIFER:
    I think I have a ghost obsession. I’ll be fine as long as I don’t start saying: ‘I see dead people.’ LOLZ.

    Hi PAN:
    Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate you stopping by!

    Hi LUA:
    It means a lot that you should say that. I do like to run the gamut of emotions. I think that’s what real life is like – lots of ups and down. Thank you, hon.

    Hi STEPH:
    I love that – magical and raw – that’s what I was striving for even though I didn’t know it at the time. Awesome!

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