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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Inner Person (09/09/10)

TITLE: Beyond the Painted Wall
By Marita Thelander


Misty slumped in the middle of her beautiful garden and wept. “Why, God? Why do they mistreat my creations? ”

She’d worked incessantly, planting a wild array of flowers, bushes, and trees. She’d spread her artistry for all to see and enjoy, but people abused its beauty. They wandered off the paths, picked flowers, and let their children trample delicate plants while they chased butterflies and hummingbirds.

“I’m weary of it all. I’m just going to let it die. I don’t care anymore.”

Gradually, Misty replaced her beautiful plants with rocks. Stone gardens became her outlet for her inner artistic drive. The crowds waned, but Misty pressed on to create. After all, she was an artist.

She built a brick wall along the back of her rockery and painted a mural in memory of her former beauty. So vivid were the colors and details that crowds became attracted to her stony, painted gardens.

“Why are they coming back?” Misty asked God one day. “I’m not interested in sharing my splendor.”

“Because they’re drawn to your beauty,” He whispered in the gentle breeze.

Misty continued to erect her wall, but not to frame her existing creation. Instead, she established a new place to work. Sheltered from everyone, the partition surrounded her.

“Ahh, it’s so peaceful in here. I can plant a living garden again.”

Thrilled to have a safe place, Misty flourished in the shadow of the brick hedge. On occasion, she’d sneak through a carefully disguised door and mingle incognito among the public.

“I just love the artistry displayed here, don’t you?”

Caught off guard by the question, Misty simply nodded to the woman.

“Do you come here often?”

“Well,” Misty cleared her throat, “yes, I frequent the gardens.”

“Me too, I feel drawn here. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I wonder if the artist who painted the magnificent wall is hiding something. I see sorrow in it. Do you see it?”

“No,” Misty crossed her arms over her chest, a subconscious shelter for her soul.

“See among the droopy branches of the weeping willows and birches? Look…there’s even tendrils of live wisteria peeking over the top of the wall? I sense pain and fear.”

After a span of silence, the stranger turned to Misty. “I have a hunch the artist experiences emotional sorrow. I struggle with constant physical pain. To me, the mural depicts hope amidst our anguish. Whoever the creator is, we’re kindred spirits.”

The stranger meandered off and Misty stared at her work with new eyes before she slipped through her private doorway into the inner garden. She inhaled the heady fragrances…dirt, woodsy, floral aromas mixed with…what else did she smell? Did pain and sorrow have a scent? Perhaps fear and mistrust?

Misty watched for the stranger to return. She casually allowed their paths to cross among the stone arrangements.

“Well, hello there,” the stranger hugged her.

Misty tried to not recoil at the physical touch.

“I didn’t get your name the other day. I’m Agnes.”


The two strolled and exchanged tidbits of life.

“What do you think of this rock pattern?” Agnes pointed to the swirling design of colored rocks.

“Umm,” Misty hesitated. “It’s sort of dizzying…out of control.”


Misty began to see how her work displayed her inner being in subtle ways.

“And these huge boulders seem to be plopped in the middle of everything swirling around it; random, yet intentional…large, heavy, burdensome boulders amidst the dizzying, colorful patterns…interesting.”

After several chance meetings, Misty didn’t realize, one day, when Agnes observed her from a distance. Misty inconspicuously disappeared through the painting on the wall. She wandered to her weeping bench, appropriately named after Agnes pointed out the weepy foliage in the mural.

Quiet tears slipped unchecked. Here she sat among her prized perfected masterpiece…alone. The garden enclosed by towering brick walls held every secret of her inner most being. From the mycelium fungus layer, to the wandering wisteria on the wall, this hidden place quietly declared Misty’s insecurities.

“God, I’m so lonely.”

“You’ve enclosed yourself in a walled paradise. Perhaps you need to allow someone in,” His whispers dropped ever-so-gently into her soul.

Misty heard something…

“Oh my goodness,” Agnes gasped. “You created all this…and the rocks and mural?”

Startled by the intrusion, Misty nodded.

“Oh Misty, joy and sorrow mingle in this private inner garden,” Agnes hugged Misty and held her tight. “Will you share your most secret place with me? Please, I beg you, let me in…”

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This article has been read 698 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 09/16/10
It's in the sharing of ourselves that we receive the joy of friendships. That's the message I took away from this fine piece. Thanks.
Melanie Kerr 09/17/10
What we are inside invariably seeps out. It is hard to see the inside of others. One person sees the trampled plants, another sees the butterfly that they chase. Lots to think about.
Emily Ritter09/17/10
I really enjoyed the way this story played out. It was subtle, and inviting, kind of like the garden. Seemed very real to life. Thanks for writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/18/10
This is such a vivid story I could picture the garden as well as the pain and inner turmoil.
Barbara Lynn Culler09/19/10
Beautiful. The ending gave me goosebumps.

I wonder why someone wants to create beauty and not want to share it with others.
Loren T. Lowery09/21/10
I like the way you presented your message - the images were easy to identify with, not having to struggle too much with similes and metaphors. And, true, too, that most of do hold a secret, beautiful garden inside that God does not want to keep hidden, but rather shared. Like this story.
Kate Oliver Webb 09/21/10
Lots to think about in your almost "otherworldly" story. Well written; excellent descriptive prose and some evocative inner dialog. Good job!
Rachel Phelps09/21/10
I loved this story, the imagery and the message. There were a few places where I felt like the telling was a little strong. I was picturing everything so vividly that being "told" that Misty realized her work reflected her was like being pulled out of the story for a moment. Still, fabulous entry!
Christina Banks 09/22/10
This is wonderful! I could identify with Misty. I'm not a great gardener, but I was a closet writer. Isn't it easier to enjoy what you create without dealing with other people. Unfortunately, it is very lonely living behind a wall. You depicted this so well.
Catrina Bradley 09/22/10
This has a fairy-tale feeling to it - I almost expected it to end with 'happily ever after' but it will be a slow healing for Misty, I'm sure. I loved the descriptions - put me right in the middle of the gardens.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/23/10
Congratulations for placing 26th overall!