Image credit; wikepedia.com
Image credit; wikepedia.com
I’ve included a picture of a royal poinciana tree and frangipani flowers so you can see them. I know most people won’t know what they look like. I’ve sent this to a short story contest and I am waiting to hear back from them. Anyways, thank you for reading!
- Write a story about someone who’s haunted by their past.
The sweat pours down my face as I struggle with the weeds in my garden. I’m not physically draining myself, but the sweat comes from fear. Every time I touch a weed, I see something from my past, my scarred past. Flashes of memories flood my vision even when I barely brush a weed. I can’t see past the flashes, they are blinding me. I try to pull out several weeds at once, which is a mistake. I see several memories in rapid succession, thoroughly confusing me. A hand coming out of nowhere, my mother screaming, a gunshot… I can feel my garden pulling away from me, trying to put me back into reality.
I wake with a gasp. I sit up and run a trembling hand through my hair. To calm myself, I look around my bedroom and try to name every color I see. As I do, I start to feel a bit more level-headed.
“Miora!” my foster mother calls up to me. I jump at her harsh voice. “Get up! You’re going to be late!”
I check the time on my alarm clock. It’s already 7:30? I must have been in my garden longer than I thought.
I hop off the bed and hurry to get dressed. I try to comb a brush through my hair, then give up entirely, throwing all of my hair into a bun on top of my head. I run downstairs, grab a piece of toast, and scramble out to my car, pausing only once to trip over the doorstep.
I fumble for my keys, and when the car finally turns on, I race out of the driveway and onto the street towards the high school. It is painful to keep under the speed limit. Has it always been so low?
I make it into art class just as the final bell rings and hurry to my seat next to Amara while everyone stares at me, the late kid. Amara has short, honey-blond hair, bright green eyes, and a curvy figure. She is very beautiful, and I am often shunted to the side when it comes to meeting new people. She is extroverted and funny, and everyone wants to be around her. Why she chose me to be her friend, I do not know why.
I am almost the complete opposite of Amara. I have long black hair, dark brown eyes, and dark skin. I am extremely introverted and would rather stay in to read instead of partying on a Friday night. Amara has always tried to include me, though, which I am grateful for. She is my best friend.
“Miora!” Amara whispers, brushing her hair out of her face. “Where were you?”
“Stayed too long in the garden,” I say in a hushed voice. “Mrs. Violet almost had a heart attack.”
Mrs. Violet is my foster mother. Her name may sound kind and sweet, but that lady is the strictest person I’ve ever met. She makes me clean the kitchen every weekend until it is spotless, mop the floors everyday, and dust the living room until it shines. She has strict rules about eating at the dinner table, and makes all of us go to the Catholic church on Sunday and Wednesday. Mrs. Violet has extremely short red hair, cat-eye glasses, and a large nose. Her eyes are the prettiest color of blue I’ve ever seen, though.
Amara is the only one who knows about my garden. She’s the only one I could trust with my secret without telling me I’m crazy. I don’t think she completely believes me, but she doesn’t judge me for it, either.
“What were you doing?” she asks, getting out of her seat to get her art supplies. I follow her.
“I was trying to pull out some weeds,” I admit, knowing what her reaction will be.
“Miora, you know that you can’t do that!” she exclaims, turning towards me. “Miora, you know better than to even try! Why would you attempt to do that?”
I sigh. “Amara, they were thoughts from my past. I hate thinking about them, I just want them gone.”
I sigh again.
Amara waits for a moment before trying to change the subject. “How’s your tree doing?”
Despite myself, I grin happily. At the very center of my garden, there is a huge royal poinciana tree.
“Oh, Amara,” I say, “I wish you could see it! Yesterday it was the brightest red and orange I’ve ever seen! The flowers are doing so beautifully!”
I smile contentedly, remembering. My tree is the most beautiful tree of all. The royal poinciana tree is native to Madagascar, just like me. My foster parents took me in when I was put into an orphanage at age ten. I can’t remember much before then, but every once in a while some weeds pop up, usually from that time period. I can’t remember why they chose someone all the way from Madagascar, but they did, and I’m forever grateful.
The rest of my garden is covered in different flowers. Some are absolutely gorgeous, some are just pretty, some are plain. I’ve learned that each flower is from a different time period. The weeds are from my past before I turned ten. Daisies, roses, waterlilies (in a small pond in my garden), jasmine, and, most recently, frangipani flowers. Frangipani are native to Hawaii, and they are very beautiful. I think they are the most recent because my most recent memories are beautiful. This has certainly been some of the best times of my life.
Amara’s strategy has worked, and I find myself thinking about my tree and my flowers the rest of the day. I promised to Amara vaguely that I would try to ignore the weeds for a while, but I wasn’t really listening to her.
The rest of the day passes quickly, and I can’t wait to get home.
As soon as I’m in the driveway, I turn off my car and run inside.
“Hi, Mrs. Violet! I’ll be in my room! Homework!” I call to her as I hurry past her.
She says nothing, just stares past me suspiciously, most likely wondering why I’m so eager to do my homework.
As soon as I reach my room, I lay down on the bed and try to fall asleep. Over the years, I’ve developed the talent to fall asleep at will. I quickly fall asleep.
I open my eyes to see my tree before me. It’s even more breath-taking tonight than it was yesterday. The leaves are lime green, the flowers red and orange. I sigh, thinking that royal poincianas truly are the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen.
I breathe deeply, inhaling the fresh scent of my garden. Hmm, what time in my life should I visit today? Perhaps my childhood, where the simplest flowers grow. The daisies. Yes, I’m in the mood for some simple, happy memories.
I walk on the mosaic, stone path towards the daisy patch. I decide to go visit my golden flower in that time period. In each time period, there is one golden flower, each a gold version of the original flower. That flower holds my most important memory from that time.
I can see the yellow daisy from several feet away, because it is the only one in a sea of white daisies, and I walk towards it eagerly. I know what memory this holds, it’s one of my favorites.
I brush up against a few flowers on my way past, and I’m flooded with memories. Unlike the weeds, several memories at once are not overwhelming to me. These memories are soft and wonderful, they wait for one another, gently tugging me into the past. I see flashes of a puppy, a carnival, my tiny hand reaching out to pick up a shell on a beach. I smile. These memories bring me such happiness.
I finally reach my golden daisy. I don’t brush up against it, but I hold onto the stem lightly. Golden memories are the easiest to recall, they are remarkably clear. I feel the gentle tug of the golden flower, and I don’t resist in the slightest as I am, yet again, returning to the past.
80’s music plays through the air while ten-year-old me is sitting on one of the high chairs in the kitchen. Mrs. Violet is dancing around, singing, and cleaning the kitchen. Mrs. Violet has a surprisingly good voice. Nowadays, she only uses it in church. This is my favorite memory of Mrs. Violet. I actually felt like I had a real mother.
I stay there for a moment longer, listening to the music. But then the memory changes.
“You aren’t worthy of this love,” a voice whispers in my ear. “You will never have a real family. You aren’t good enough for it.”
My memory turns from golden to a dark hue. It fades, pushing me out of the past. I struggle to hold on to the flower stem, but an irresistible force pushes me away.
I open my eyes, gasping, and look around wildly. I dark green vine is curled around my ankle. The whispered thoughts keep invading my mind as I struggle to throw off the vine. The more I touch it, the louder the whispers get until their ringing voices is all I can hear.
The vine finally lets go of me, and I scramble away from it. I don’t even know where I’m running to until I get to my tree, which I can barely see through my blurry tears. I sit at the base and put my head in my hands.
“You are a wretched person,” a voice whispers, growing louder by the second. “You have fooled everyone into thinking you are a person you are not.”
I whip my head up and look around me. Vines are coming at me from every direction, moving faster than is natural. I try to scramble away, but they hold me to my spot. I hear bits and pieces of accusations.
“You should die….”
“Your mother and father would be so disappointed….”
“You don’t deserve to live….”
I look around at my tree, and agony comes upon me. My beautiful tree has been almost completely surrounded by vines. The flowers have all fallen on the ground and wilted, the leaves have turned an ugly brown. The trunk of my beloved tree is completely encircled with vines.
The whispers have become shouts.
“You aren’t doing any good here….”
“You are insane….”
“Your death would help more people than your life….”
Every depressing thought I’ve ever had comes crashing down upon me. I take one last look up at my precious tree. Goodbye, I think.
I always knew the weeds would kill me someday.
One month later….
I haven’t been the same since Miora died. I’ve always been so happy that her foster parents decided to take her in, considering she was all the way from Madagascar. People asked me why I hung out with her, because most of the thought she was weird. But Miora was one of my favorite people.
Though I wondered what Miora was really talking about when she talked about her “garden”, I was fascinated. She told me that her bad thoughts and memories were the weeds, good thoughts and memories were the flowers. She told me that her tree was the main thing in her garden, the thing that kept her tied together. She didn’t talk much about the weeds, but I guess I wouldn’t want to, either. She told me briefly about her mother and father, but I could tell she didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
About a week after she died, I remembered what she had told me once.
“Amara, I’ve seen some vines in my garden. I think it’s depression. When I touch them, I hear the whispers, thoughts that I’ve been thinking forever. They keep telling me I’m not good enough….”
I was sympathetic, but I told her not to worry. I didn’t really believe her at that point, so I just said that it would all be okay in the end. I noticed that she had been looking kind of hopeless for a while, she’d been a little too quick to assure me that she was okay. But what did I do?
The police said that she died in her sleep, but they couldn’t find the cause. There was no physical trauma, no sign of a heart attack, no digestion of pills, no injections in her bloodstream, nothing. I haven’t told the police what she told me about her garden. I know that they wouldn’t believe me.
Like I said, I haven’t been the same since then. I haven’t been eating very well, I just can’t choke down anymore casserole. People everywhere have been giving me sympathetic glances, and it’s driving me mad.
As I lay down to sleep, I’m still thinking about Miora, about how sorry I am.
My eyes shut, but then they open again.
I am breathing in the scent of a hundred kinds of flowers. I look all around me. There are roses, daisies, and many others that I don’t recognize. Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention, and I whirl to face it.
A gorgeous tree with red flowers and bright green leaves is looming in front of me. It’s trunk twists and turns, somehow making the whole garden look even more beautiful. I recognize it instantly because of all the times Miora told me about it. It is her royal poinciana, and I am in her garden.