Chapter 7:

SEVEN – The Secret Garden.

The Girl With A Secret

The snow had melted, and the sun was shining a warm light on the town. The girl sat down next to her mother and listened closely. The belly had grown in size. Her younger brother would soon be born. The girl was very excited about it. The town had gone through a rough past year and everyone was praying that the upcoming year would bring good fortune and prosperity. Their harvest was running low and the town’s people were dying from an unknown illness. It had been a forsaken town. Their only bliss was the girl who would go around town, handing out pretty flowers to everyone. Her smile never faded. She was a ray of hope, making the town’s people think that the future might not look that bleak. The girl asked her mother if she could go out and play. Her younger sister refused to leave the house and always stayed close to their mother. The girl’s father told her to be back before the sun hides behind the mountains. The days were short.

The girl had a drawing pad and a pencil in her hand. She wanted to become an arts and music teacher when she grew up. Teaching sounded fun to her. She walked through the alleyways and up some stairs. The town was behind her. The place she was going to was hidden away from peeping eyes. It was a place where the snowdrops, bluebells and wild daffodils bloomed. The girl’s mother had warned her to be careful, but she knew that no harm could be done to her when she was at her secret garden. It was yet too early for the flowers to bloom but it was still her favourite place to go to. The sky was grey and the wind cold. The girl hid half of her face in the scarf her mother had knitted for her. She made it to her destination but was surprised to see that someone had gotten to the place before her. He was occupying the rock the girl liked to sit on. The boy was older than her. The drawing pad and the pencil fell to the ground. The girl rushed over to him. The boy’s breathing was shallow. The small fog that was escaping his mouth, disappeared into the air. The boy was shaking. The girl took of his scarf and wrapped it around the boy. She helped him stand up and supported him while they walked back to her town.

“Is there some place I could stay overnight? A place where there are no people around? Away from stranger’s eyes?”

The boy coughed up some blood. The girl meant to take him over to her house but decided to enter a small cottage just outside of her town. It was abandoned. She laid him down on the wooden floor and took of her jacket to cover him with it. The boy asked the girl not to mention him to anyone. The girl promised and left to get some fresh water, food and some bandages. She rushed back to her house and gathered what she needed. Her parents questioned why she was leaving again. Without saying anything she ran back to where the boy was. The girl gathered some sticks and leaves to get the fireplace started. She rolled the boy closer to the fire to warm up his cold body. The porridge was cooking in the kitchen. The girl placed a pillow under his head and a blanket on top of him. They were hers. She lifted his head to make him drink some water. The porridge was ready. The girl blew on every bite to make sure the boy did not get burnt while she was feeding him slowly. The boy’s clothes were dirty and after taking them off, the girl noticed that some of his skin was peeling off of his arms and legs. And a distinct mark was engraved on his chest. The girl cleaned his body and wounds with some water and a cloth. The clear water turned dark red. It was as if the boy was rotting away. She bandaged him up and placed a cold wet cloth on his forehead to reduce his fever.

Several days passed away. The girl stayed next to the boy during day and night. She had convinced her parents to let her stay over at a friend’s house who was not feeling very well. The girl would occasionally go back to her home to get some advice from her mother or to get some more food and water. The boy’s fever had gone down. He kept mumbling something in his sleep. Nightmares were haunting him. The girl would sleep next to him to make sure he was okay and not alone. She was worried and scared; unsure of what to do to make the boy feel better. The kettle in the kitchen whistled. The water had been boiled. She made herself some tea and sat down next to the fireplace. Her eyes watching over the boy. Her heart wishing that the boy would wake up one day. That he would survive. Morning came and the girl left to go to the place where the snowdrops, bluebells and wild daffodils bloomed. Her heart felt heavy. A nice surprise was waiting for her. It was too early for the flowers to be in full bloom, but they were. The field was covered in white, blue and yellow. She picked some and made a nice bouquet to show the boy. If and when he would wake up.

“That is a very pretty bouquet you have there, Hana.”

It was an elderly woman called Grandmother Eleanor. The girl gave her one of the flowers. It made the elderly woman very happy. Her husband had recently passed away. The girl would often visit her to make her feel less lonely and bring her some pastries the girl’s mother had baked. The girl walked back to the cottage. The door was open. She hurried inside, fearing that the boy had disappeared. But he was standing in the kitchen. He was drinking water. The girl had tears in her eyes. She was relieved to see the boy standing and in good health.

“Thank you for taking care of me.”

The girl told the boy to lay down again. She started preparing a meal for both of them. The boy quietly watched her run around. The food warmed the insides of both of them. The girl insisted for the boy to rest. He fell asleep while staring at the flowers the girl had brought in. She had placed them in a vase and above the fireplace. The boy was greeted by the girl’s face after waking up. She was laying down next to him on the floor. The night had come. The moon had a pale glow to it. It was shining down on them through the crack in the roof. The boy got ready to leave the place. The rustling and moving sounds woke the girl up.

“Wait. You can’t leave. You are still ill. Your wounds haven’t fully healed yet.”

“I have to go. I can’t stay here any longer. Thank you for everything you have done for me.”

The girl grabbed the boy by his arm.

“Is something bothering or hurting you? Is there anything I can do for you?”

The boy was taken aback. It was the very first time someone had asked that question to him since he had started his lonely and painful journey.

“You have already done enough. I am fine now.”

The boy smiled.

“You are clearly not fine. I promise I won’t tell anyone. I just want to help. You are badly injured. You won’t survive if you carry on like this.”

The boy chuckled. It was a pleasant surprise; someone caring about him.

“It’s okay. I’ll be okay. It is too dangerous to get you involved.”

The boy tried to pull the girl’s hand off of his arm, but she refused to let go.

“I’m stronger than I look. My heart is really strong too. At least that’s what my mother said. So, it’s okay. You can tell me. I will listen. I won’t let go until you tell me.”

The boy lightly squeezed her hand and made her sit down. The girl and the boy were facing each other. He hesitantly started telling her his story. The story of how he had to leave the people he loved behind. And how he was trying his best to survive to fulfil his fate of destroying a magical stone that makes wishes and miracles come true. The boy told her about everything. His heart becoming lighter and lighter with every word that he uttered. Tears ran down his face. The girl waited for him to finish to then embrace him. She could feel his pain and loneliness. Her heart was saddened.

“Give me the magical gem. I will take care of it for you. And I promise to never use it.”

“No. I would never pass this agonizing burden onto someone else. It is only mine to carry.”

The girl grabbed the boy’s hands and looked him into his eyes.

“Then let’s make a deal. Let me borrow it from you. You can have it back after you get better.”

The boy was shocked. How could the girl possibly say that whilst knowing what would await her if she would hold the gem? He refused her offer, but the girl insisted.

“I can’t. I just can’t.”

“I promise to protect the gem and to keep it a secret from everyone; my family, the town’s people and the world.”

The girl’s kindness was overwhelming to the boy.

“Fine. Then I will promise to always protect you until I am ready to take the gem back.”

And so, the girl and the boy had made promises to each other and carried a secret in their hearts. The boy made the gem appear and placed it within the girl. The night came to end. The girl woke up alone. The boy was gone. The warm sunrays bathed the room in an orange colour. The girl was confused and went home. Her steps echoed through the silent town. She was lost in thought. Her heart felt light and content. The girl was happy. Time went on and seasons went by. The girl lived her life while carrying a secret. A secret she had long forgotten. But she still remembered a promise she made to someone. An important promise she had to keep. The boy kept a watchful eye on the girl with the forgotten secret. Every year, around spring he would visit her and observe her from a distance. It was at the place where the snowdrops, bluebells and wild daffodils bloomed.