Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: Remember our Garden?
By Andre Ong
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Hey, Dad, thanks for meeting me. I just wanted to talk to you before it was time. It’s strange, knowing I won’t walk through here anymore, at least, not like this, you know? We’ve had so many great conversations haven’t we? This is such a gentle place.
Do you remember the garden we planted together? It was so exciting, wasn’t it? I remember the groves. I remember the way they smelled—thick and pregnant with a musky, sweet life. Each tree was different. The apples were all different colors, all on one tree, rows of them. I remember how the oranges and tangerines grew so plump and fat they wanted to fall off.
Roses were one of my favorites, too. Roses around here don’t open up quite the same way. They seem to hesitate, maybe they’re shy. The roses we planted were enormous, remember? They grew and grew and when they opened it was like they were stretching their petals towards heaven and shouting, “Look at me! I’m beautiful!” And then that field of tulips and trumpets—oh they went on forever—like a field of buglers announcing the arrival of a king.
I like it here because of the olives. I like the olive trees all lined up, all working so hard to do what they do, grow and make olives.
I miss our old olive grove. Remember the walks we’d take? Long and leisurely---oh, oh! You know the best part of that olive grove? The weddings! God, I love weddings! Remember the first couple, they got married right between the olive grove and the great oaks? We could hear the river singing from the rapids. I guess that was the wedding song that day. And that steady breeze from the coast that just swept through, just enough to make the trees dance and blow around a few leaves. He was so excited, you know. He was so happy to be finally with her for life. He sang a beautiful song. I think the thrushes were silenced. And the words—wow. The words were perfect for the occasion.
I’ve been to a few weddings here. I like the look on the groom’s face, like he could fly. Like he had received the greatest prize in life! Sometimes they’ve been through hell to get here, you know. Guys will go through amazing trials to get married. Someday I’ll—
Look, I know you have to go. I feel like you’ve already left. Things are different now—like the world has grown larger, stronger, heavy. And I feel like if I try to touch you my hand will just go through you or you’ll be just out of reach.
I miss our walks. When we’d just drink in our garden.
Before you go, can we have one last talk at our rock? I love this rock. We’ve talked so much about life and work over the years. God! I’m going to miss our talks. I’m going to miss hearing your voice.
I know it’s only going to be for a little while. I know it’s my time. It’ll seem like eternity to me.
Do you…Do you think there might be another way? I really don’t want to lose you. We’ve always had each other, you know? God—if there is any other way…but I’ll do what has to be done. You know I will. If it has to be this way, then I’ll go. But you’re all I’ve got left. My friends, well, most of them are already leaving. Peter and the Zebedee boys fell asleep under our tree. They’ve had a long day, you know, preparing the Passover and all. Judas left before supper ended—oh, Judas.
So once you go—once you leave me, it’ll just be me. I’ve never been alone.
I feel like I’ve already died. I feel—wait, wait, not yet, God, you keep moving away, Dad!
Look! Look at the fireflies! Do you remember them, how they used to make a symphony of light for us, right at dusk? Look, right over the ridge there—oh. Oh. Those are torches. Torches, swords, spears…as if they need those.
I’m going to miss our talks. I already miss our walks.
I’ll see you at home, in our garden.
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