Sunday, August 10, 2014



*Story contains moments of angst*

Abel had a garden. He hadn’t created the garden himself – someone else had turned the sod and shaped the pattern. Another gardener, in a burst of creativity, had dreamt it, defined it, bore the effort of developing it. That moment, however, had long since passed. For whatever reasons – loss of interest, lack of capability – disrepair had fallen to neglect and neglect had given way to ruin.

He didn’t realize it was a garden at first, few would have. It was only when he hit up against the boundary markers that quartered off the little square that he noticed the small patch of ground was different from the rest. A closer look drew his attention to the struggling perennials buried within the weeds and grasses.

Abel spent hour after hour that spring, on his knees, tending the piece of land. The dirt was hard, the ground leeched of its essences. The fertilizer and the soil he added to it seemed to sink right in, get swallowed away. The more he put in, the more the garden took, and he spent so much time and way too many dollars trying to make the earth vital again.

When Abel was finally happy with his efforts, when he had convinced himself that the ground could hold life, he picked his plants carefully, and took a hard look at design and flow and pattern. He kept the plants that had dared to remain standing through the harsh conditions of their past and made sure they held a place of honour among the new ones. And when it was set, he stood back and smiled.

He called the garden Sam.

Sam was not the biggest or the best garden in his neighbourhood. Sam had no special species or designer details. But Sam fit Abel’s home perfectly, complimented the yard, and made Abel happy. And that was enough.

Throughout the spring Abel watered Sam diligently. Yet the plants began to darken, rot made its way up the fragile stems and threatened to destroy them. It was then that Abel realized, for all his devotion and all his dedication, he was no longer caring for Sam – he was drowning it. Although Abel found it hard to step back and leave the terrain to dry out, he was ecstatic when the cycle righted itself. In the weeks that followed Abel taught himself the balance between too much and not enough.

One day he noticed the leaves had begun to fade on a few of the plants. He turned them over and saw tiny white aphids. Horrified, Abel gathered information and products and began to work at getting rid of the parasites that were consuming Sam. Everything he tried either failed, or destroyed Sam as badly as the bugs. Abel wept as he watched the garden struggle underneath the weight of the evil freeloaders that were sucking its lifeforce dry. Finally, with every other option exhausted, he pulled out his tools and sat beside the garden, painstakingly scrubbing and cautiously cleaning each and every leaf, removing the bugs one at a time, by hand. Sam revived – grew stronger – and Abel learned to watch for the parasites and fend off the little beasts before they had a chance to take hold.

The weeds were merciless. Abel soon understood it was better to work at it daily then wait until they became a job. The last thing he needed, Abel realized, was to let the weed’s roots tangle with Sam’s. Better to pinch the problem as soon as it sprouted, then wait until it grew into something he had to fight with.

Rabbits loved Sam. They would visit Sam at night and nibble at Sam’s most tender shoots and healthiest leaves. Abel liked the rabbits. They were cute and sweet and made him smile when he saw them in his yard. He had no intention of hurting the rabbits but at the same time, there was no way he was going to let them keep harming Sam. For several days he pondered the problem, and finally set up a small fence around Sam. Abel didn’t want to close Sam in, or corral Sam, but there were certain concessions that had to be made, if he hoped to keep Sam whole.

Abel and Sam both grew that summer. They spent many summer evenings side by side and even enjoyed the autumn’s softer atmosphere together. But when the nights got cooler and the air damp, Sam began to darken and wither. And Abel was sure he was going to die right along with it. His heart broke as Sam’s beautiful blooms and thriving life dribbled off into brown sticks and the wind stole away everything else.

He watched as winter covered the little square with layer after layer of cold, unforgiving ice. He was lonely without Sam to keep him company. His days were white and grey instead of yellow and green; everything was frozen and dark.

December passed.

January crawled.

February was crippling.

March felt like hell as Abel dragged himself from work to home and home to work, but one day he startled, surprised, and knelt down to look closely at something poking through the snow. Bright green, twisted tightly and bravely straining, the first shoots of spring’s bulbs had broken out of Sam’s seemingly dead surface.

That’s when Abel understood that Sam had never really been gone. Sam had just been sleeping. And all of Abel’s patient and tedious tending had left Sam strong and ready to start all over again. Because as long as Abel continued to provide the love and care that Sam needed to live, Sam would always come back.

Abel had a garden. He called it Sam. It was the perfect compliment to his home and people smiled when they passed by. Sam made Abel happy. And that was enough.

The End

Copyright © 2011 AF Henley

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