The garden had become her refuge. It was the place she came to be filled and renewed. She’d never seen anything so beautiful. All of her favorites were there, though she knew the names of only a few. The peonies had been staked, probably by The Gardener. Their fragrant blossoms were intoxicating. It was the bed of carnations that she loved the most. Roses were most people’s flower of choice. Not hers. Carnations brought her back somewhere in her past. It was a good place, but she didn’t remember where. She just loved the way her head spun when she inhaled them deeply. Nothing else could do that to her.
Every day she’d come to the garden in the clearing at the end of a dirt road. She’d found it two years ago when she was wandering. There was a magic about the place, like it was created just for her. There were paths that meandered through and around the plantings that had been lovingly cultivated by the master Gardener. She wondered if anyone else had ever discovered this place and secretly hoped that nobody would, even though that thought carried a twinge of selfishness with it. She spent hours soaking in the beauty of the place and always went home happier and refreshed.
“Didn’t you see the sign?” he asked tenderly, startling her from her imaginings. “Can’t you read?” he asked a bit abruptly.
“I saw it, but the gate was open. I, I don’t understand…,” she stammered.
“The sign says, ‘Private Property, No Trespassing’. That means you have to leave, and I’ll need my key back.”
Reluctantly she stood, taking in last breaths of her favorite place in the world, asking herself simultaneously how she’d cope without it. She dropped the key into is outstretched hand with a sigh and turned to walk away.
“Wait,” The Gardener said as he walked to the shed. Within minutes he approached her sadness with a potted peony that he’d just dug up. He caught her eyes as he passed it to her. She found hope in them. Hope for what? She didn’t know.
She heard the gate close behind her, and the lock clicked.
And she was gone.
The Gardener turned to his sanctuary and smiled as he contemplated her surprise when she found the key to the gate tucked in the side of the pot.