The garden she loved

The garden was the first thing she ever loved. It was a beautifully lush expanse surrounded by an imposing brick wall. Stone paths meandered through the paradise, twisting and turning to reveal new sights at every bend. Soaring trees and flowering bushes stood clumped together, adding pops of color to the rich green world. 

The girl’s small feet bounced against the stone walkway as she raced through the garden, eager to meet every blade of grass, every flower. Her mother stopped her, gathering the young girl into her arms. 

“This garden will be yours someday. Respect it, nurture it, let yourself become a part of it. But be careful who you share it with. The wrong sorts of people will only cause harm, and the garden has never done anything to deserve that.” 

The girl nodded her head, a solemn promise that she would share this garden only with the people she loved the very most. For many years as the girl grew into a young woman, she kept the garden to herself. Every fluttering leaf, every dew-dropped flower petal, every melodic bird song—it was hers. It was her heart, and it was her soul. 

She knew the time would come when she would have to step into the world, leaving the garden behind for a time. But she dreamed that when she returned, it would be with someone worth sharing this piece of her heart with. 

The time to leave had arrived, and the young woman entered the world outside the garden. Like a flower in bloom, she opened her heart to many, eager to find someone whose soul matched her own. The first person she ever shared the garden with was a tall, dark-haired man. He possessed a wide smile and serious eyes, and she was sure he was the one. 

The day she shared the garden with him was a bright and sunny one. As she unlocked the iron gate and allowed the man to step into the garden, she handed him a piece of her soul. With apprehension, she watched him enter her world, eager to see what he would do with the gift she had granted him. 

In shock, she watched as he ruined everything she had worked for. Carelessly, he ran his hands over every leaf, tainting the life within. He plucked petals and tossed them aside. With reckless abandon, he ripped flowers from the ground and threw them away. Everything he touched died. And when he had finished tainting the very essence of the garden, he turned and left through the gate without a second glance back. 

Her home was in ruins around her as she fell to the ground. Her heart was shattered into a million pieces that she felt may never heal. Her mother’s words rang loud and clear in her head. Hot tears streaming down her cheeks, she wondered how she could have been so careless and stupid. She vowed to never share the garden with another soul. 

She worked endlessly to bring the garden back to life for years. She closed herself off to the outside world, refusing to open up as she had before. The garden was the only thing that mattered anymore. She could never care for anything else like that. 

But someone proved her wrong. 

He was the second thing she ever loved, a young man with hair that glowed in the sunlight and eyes that shone like a million stars. It took time, but he was patient, and she saw her soul reflected in his. So she brought him to the garden. 

She was terrified as she once more opened the gate. Another piece of her soul was handed away. But this time was rather different. 

His eyes lit up as he stepped into the garden. In awe, he glanced around, finally seeing the world that mattered so much to the girl he had fallen in love with. 

With a gentle smile, he took her hand and gazed into her eyes, seeing everything she had once so carefully locked away. 

“Will you show me around?”

Generation after generation, the garden observed the same cycle. It watched as its caretakers would bring in destructive forces, oblivious to their mistake until it was too late. It watched as time and time again, the women would bring the garden back to life and heal from the devastating heartbreak. And every time, with happy satisfaction, the garden watched as they finally found the right person to share this secret with. In all those years, the garden only ever wondered one thing—when would those women learn to recognize a destructive force before it was too late?