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Meadow's Garden

Looking Back

By Dawn SaloisPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 9 min read
24
Meadow's Garden
Photo by J K on Unsplash

Meadow woke up early on Saturday morning. She had gone out with friends the previous evening, but she had managed to get home to bed by midnight. Her friends all had husbands and children to get home to, so it wasn’t that difficult to do. She was the only one in her group of friends that lived alone, but she liked it that way.

She didn’t like to waste either of her weekend days sleeping late or feeling hungover. She liked to get up early and clean the house or work in her flower garden in the backyard. Then she felt like she had earned a leisurely afternoon and evening relaxing in the backyard or occasionally having friends over for dinner.

This morning she had decided to go out and work in her garden. She had to do some weeding and watering and she needed to mow the lawn today. She decided to get the garden weeded early while it was still shaded from the sun. Meadow worked efficiently, but still enjoyed the experience.

The last area of the garden she needed to work on was where she had planted several marigolds in memory of her father. He had died the previous winter and she had decided to plant something in his memory in the spring. She did some research and discovered that marigolds were a symbol of grief, despair, and mourning in the Victorian era. She also liked that they looked bright and cheerful even though they symbolized unhappy things.

Meadow had always loved her father, but there had been times when their relationship was more difficult than others. After his death she had struggled with guilt over the times she had argued with him over things that honestly didn’t matter, but seemed really important at the time. She hoped that planting the marigold seeds and caring for them while they grew and blossomed would somehow heal her guilt and anger with herself.

As Meadow started pulling weeds from the area around the marigolds. She looked at the beautiful golden blossoms. She kneeled in front of them on the grass and leaned in to smell one. It didn’t smell sweet and pretty the way some flowers did, but she still enjoyed the sharp, pungent, almost unpleasant fragrance. She took a moment to admire the golden blossoms.

She decided to sit next to the flowers and take a little break. She was starting to feel a little tired even though she hadn’t been working very long. She stretched out on her back and looked up at the sky. She noticed there were a few white clouds in the otherwise blue sky. She felt relaxed watching them slowly drift across the sky. Meadow heard a strange rumbling sound and there was suddenly a light breeze in the previously still air.

When she opened her eyes she was no longer in her own backyard, but in a much larger garden. Instead of her small flower garden there was a much larger variety of plants growing around her. She recognized corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and peppers. She saw some other plants she couldn’t identify for sure, but she thought they might be carrots and potatoes. Then she noticed there were marigolds planted around the outside of the vegetables. It was a very impressive garden.

Just then Meadow noticed a little girl in the garden. She had beautiful golden ringlets in her hair and golden brown eyes. She couldn’t have been more than a few years old. She was looking at one of the marigolds with a look of awe and wonder on her face. She bent over and picked one of the blooms.

The young girl started walking toward her with the flower and Meadow said, “Hello. That’s a beautiful flower you have there.” She had barely finished her sentence when someone behind her yelled, “Meadow! What are you doing?!”

She turned around to see who was yelling at her, but she didn’t understand what she was seeing. Her father was standing in the garden, but he did not look like he did when he died. He looked the way he had when she was a child.

Meadow was so shocked at seeing him that all she could manage to say was, “Dad?”

“He can’t see you, '' said a voice behind her.” She turned around to see her father again. This time, however, he was neither the young father she had just seen nor the father she had recently buried. He was the version of himself she had known somewhere between the two ages.

Now she was more confused than ever about what was going on. In all the confusion she still noticed that the little girl walked past her without looking at her on the way to her young dad with the flower. “I picked this for you, dad!” The young dad looked furious with the girl. “You can’t go into someone else’s yard and pick their flowers!” The little girl looked like someone had crushed her soul. “I’m sorry, dad. I wanted you to have the flower,”

Just then, a lady came walking toward them. “It’s okay, Jim, she can have that flower.”

“I’m sorry,” said the young dad.

“Don’t worry about it,” said the lady with a smile. “It’s just a flower.”

Just then the other version of her father spoke, “Do you know what’s happening?”

Meadow felt a surge of panic rise up in her chest. “Am I dead?!”

“No, Meadow. You’re not dead.”

“Then why are you here? You’re dead.”

“I’m always here, Meadow. You just can’t see me most of the time.”

“Who is that little girl?”

“Don’t you recognize her?”

Recognition hit her like a wave. “She’s me, isn’t she?”

“Yes, Meadow.”

“But why is she here?”

“There is something she needs to teach you.”

Meadow turned back to the scene in the garden.

She and her young father were getting ready to leave. They walked out of the house toward the car. As he opened the car door her father threw the marigold into some tall grass by the road. The little girl’s eyes filled with tears and Meadow suddenly felt a devastating stab of pain in her own heart. She knew she was remembering what she felt at that age when the events took place.

Meadow spun toward the other version of her father. “How could you do that?!” She demanded.

“I spent most of my life worrying about how people would judge me,” he said. “I was embarrassed that I wasn’t watching you closely enough and you picked a flower from Mrs. Robinson’s garden. Then I didn’t want your mother to know what happened, so I threw the flower away so she wouldn’t see it. The way I saw myself was so dependent on how others saw me that it affected how I saw and experienced everything. All of that happened because events in my childhood helped shape who I was as a person.”

“Is that why you’re showing me this? Because you regret what you did that day?”

“No, Meadow. I’m not showing you anything. You’re the one who brought us to this point in time. You are ready to remember it and deal with it.”

As her father finished his sentence Meadow saw a scary, dark, shadow-like being materialize. She was instantly filled with fear. “Do you know how to take us somewhere else, Dad?”

“I can’t take us anywhere,” he said. “You are in control here. Don’t be afraid, though. It’s not here to hurt you. It’s here to protect you.”

The shadow moved forward and stopped right in front of her. “What should I do? Do I need to kill it or defeat it in some way?”

Her father smiled, “No, Meadow. You can’t kill it. It’s you.”

“What do you mean ‘it’s me’? How many versions of me are there?”

“It’s more like a piece of you that broke away because of what happened with the flower. The experience hurt so much that it wanted to protect you, but it’s been protecting you throughout your whole life in ways you aren’t aware of. It has kept you so safe that there are ways in which you haven’t grown or changed. I think you’ve brought us here because you are ready to grow and change in those areas now. You have to tell your protector that you are safe and don’t need to be protected anymore.”

Meadow wasn’t sure what to say to the shadow, so she just started talking. “Hi, Other Meadow. Thank you for keeping me safe. I don’t need you to protect me anymore, because I’m all grown up.” The shadow was still in front of her, so she did the only thing she could think of to do. She hugged it. Surprisingly, her arms did not move right through it and it felt warm like a person would. As she hugged the shadow it became lighter and then it was gone. She felt pure joy and happiness in the moment after it disappeared. It felt like she’d been under a crushing weight most of her life and it was suddenly gone. She tried to figure out whether it was the way she felt or the way the shadow felt, but then she realized they were the same person.

“I think you’re ready to go back home now,” said her father.

“Dad, wait! There are so many questions I have and things I need to say. I’m so sorry for the way we used to argue when you were alive. I have so many regrets.”

“Don’t spend your life living with regrets, Meadow. Spend it enjoying life. I am always with you and I love you. You can talk to me any time you want and I can hear you. You can even talk to me in your head.”

Meadow blinked her eyes, but when she opened them again she was no longer in the vegetable garden. She was back in her own yard by her own flowers. She layed on the grass for a few moments trying to figure out whether she had just fallen asleep and dreamed everything, or if she had actually travelled to the past and seen her father again. Whether or not the events had really occurred she felt some of the happiness and lightness she had felt when the shadow disappeared.

Meadow decided it didn’t matter whether or not the dream was real as long as she could take what she had learned in the dream and use it to improve her life in the present. She decided she wanted to go to her favorite park and take a walk and enjoy the beautiful day. Before she got up she sat in front of the marigolds and looked at their glorious golden petals. This time instead of grief and despair they reminded her of happiness and the warmth of the sun. She whispered quietly, “I love you dad. Let’s go to the park.”

family
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About the Creator

Dawn Salois

Mother of a wonderful son. Writing is a relatively new passion of mine. I love to create my own images. Self-published author of Shadow and Flame.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (2)

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  • KJ Aartila2 years ago

    This is a beautiful & thought-provoking story. Well done! 🌟

  • Amy Hall2 years ago

    Thank you so much for this price. I didn't know that about marigolds! I lost my Father after an absent and when present, turbulent relationship. I'd give anything to make ammends. Your story touched my heart and I thank you for that.

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