A story from a beautiful garden, of deep love and friendship torn by jealousy.
|In The Garden of Eden
Derek Berry Thorpe
Go right ahead, please, take any item you want from the collection there. Welcome to the neighborhood. I'm Eden and you are Erin, right? It's so good to see someone new moving in. You'll like it here. I don't get too many visitors nowadays, so this is a treat for me.
Listen, now that you're here, let me offer a proposition; I'll let you have that entire collection to take with you if you stay and chat with me a while in my pretty garden around back. Who knows how much longer I have left, young lady, and it's nice to have a little company to show off the garden where I spend most of my time.
So, it's settled. Come on back with me, but I'll have to take my time...getting old is a bitch, excuse my German. Let me shepherd you back to my garden, and we can talk a spell. For me, it's these hips of mine. They are better at forecasting rain than any weatherman around. But enough whining about my aches and pains.
So you see what I mean about the garden; It's magnificent, isn't it? It's hot, I know. I have a favorite spot right here in the shade. And don't mind the bees, child. I've never been bitten in all the years that I've lived here; although there used to be many more of them just a short time ago. Where have all the bees gone to, Erin?
It's so relaxing out here on a summer's evening. The gardenias over there in the corner are just spectacular, don't you think? They love the extra sunlight, but they are the first to wilt when the days get shorter. Yes...nothing lasts forever and everything changes, Erin. When I first moved here eighteen years ago, there was nothing but weeds and bramble. But the community college grew into a university and city council ordered that we all had to make our curbs and yards pretty.
Do you have a special someone, Erin?
Oh, there I go trying to get into your business already. Don't mind me, child. It's just that you're so young and fit that I hope you're making someone happy.
I had a partner once. She's gone now and, I miss her. Back then, we were inseparable; At the beach, in the park, never more than a pause away. I loved her... and I'm sure she loved me right back. Her name was Daisy. The people closest to her, including me, would tease and call her Daisy Duke. I knew she didn't like it too much, but she tolerated it from me. She had the most beautiful mane of blonde hair, and she hated it combed. She preferred it tangled, and I sort of did too. You won't believe this, but for all our years together, we only had one fight. It was a big one, but it was just the one. No points given if you figured that it would have been over a boy.
It was the second year of the new expanding university and folks were asked to house some of the students who had no accommodation. Right next door in that house, the Johnsons took in this handsome college student. I didn't want to admit that an old girl like me could be attracted to a younger person like that, but I was. There was a break in the fence over there, and he'd come over and sun in the garden sometimes.
That year, we had a fourth of July picnic for all the college students in the neighborhood. Lots of happy people around barbecuing ribs. He was generous too. He got the last rib and offered it to me. I remember that was the first and only time I ever played frisbee with Ethan. I was awful at it. I could not get the hang of the darned thing but it was fun to spend time with him. Daisy watched and smiled, but didn't say much else about it. Everyone was having a grand time playing volleyball and silly college pranks on each other. I remember I laughed so hard, that I peed right there by those petunias. No one saw but Daisy.
Later that evening, all the students brought their fireworks over, and set them off right here in the garden. I didn't care too much for those whizz bangs. They scared me, but I'm just a big baby after all. But Ethan somehow knew and he put his arm around me on that bench. I think that's when I fell for him. He made this old girl feel so safe stroking me to calmness like that.
When Daisy came out and saw us in the dark, she didn't like that at all. That night I got the silent treatment, and we slept in different rooms.
I hope I'm not boring you, Erin. These are just a few things I want to get off my chest before it's too late. I won't take up too much more of your time.
The next morning, right after breakfast, out of the blue, she bumped and tripped me down those stairs. I didn't take kindly to that. I understand she was jealous but I could have broken my neck falling down the porch steps.
So, we fought. Right here in this garden, we fought. It should never have gotten that far, but we fought with the inverse intensity that we loved each other.
We fought with so much love that we crashed into the plant nursery there at the side of the house and one of those heavy clay pots fell on us. Well, fell mostly on her head, and she died. Died right there, Erin. She didn't die immediately and I knew it was an accident but I did not run to get help. I stood there and watched, then, I sat next to her as she died because no one could save her.
I could have run for help, but I didn't, Erin.
Then, when it was clear that she was not coming back to me, I panicked. I did something I regretted ever since, and you're the first person I've told since it happened.
I dragged Daisy's body over yonder and buried her in the soft mud. I must have dug for hours, Erin, but I blocked out the physical and emotional pain, and kept digging until it was deep enough. Right where those gardenias bloom and flourish better than any other plant in this garden is where she's buried to this day.
I don't really care what you do with that information, Erin. You can keep it to yourself or you can tell everyone; it's up to you. I'm old now, and I'm carrying too much load for my aching hips to bear. But thank you for listening.
But what I'm most ashamed of is the aftermath. After it was reported that she was missing, I denied knowing of her whereabouts. I actually put my nose to the ground, and participated in the sham search for her recovery, knowing full well she was rotting in the flower beds behind the house. I pretended to look because I was such a coward... and I don't want to be a coward anymore, Erin.
Turns out, it was all for nothing. Ethan really just wanted a place to grow his pot plants safely, and just faked that he cared.
When I realized what was going on, I ripped out those young plants from the beds, and harassed him relentlessly until he moved away. He caused me to lose my best friend, and I guess I went a little crazy for a while.
I really do feel so much better now that my secret is out. Thank you for listening without prejudice, Erin.
But I'm afraid you have to go now, too.
Do you hear that noise? That's the jangle of my leash. My owner is back to walk and feed me. Run away quickly and take whichever of my toys you like. You can come back later for the rest like I promised you, or you can just come back to visit me in my garden, as my summer days fade into the fall.
Don't mind the bees, child. They won't bite...and neither will I.