It’s the height of summer. Clouds blanket the sky and thunder rumbles on the horizon. Bees are hurrying, working hard, preparing for the coming rain. The air is warm and still, smelling like grass and dirt and clouds about to burst.
The day is speaking, gentle and firm, in a language that gardens love.
I live here in the forgotten garden, surrounded by tall stone walls and an iron gate, covered over time in clinging vines and moss. The people who made this place loved it, that much I know, but what happened to them is left to speculation. People haven’t seen this place for a long time since.
Green leaves turn up to the sky, some folding in on themselves in anticipation of rain, as they continue producing oxygen and releasing it to the air. Such a normal behavior, and yet, different than the leaves outside these walls. Different, in that here is the only place I can breathe.
This garden does more than grow. It reaches out with thin stems and trembling leaves. Its roots pull in what it needs and then a little extra to pass along. It makes the kind of air that has been lost to the world, and gives it to any creature that happens by, such as myself.
A dying nymph, lost without her forest.
I cannot leave this garden without losing the air that keeps me alive. These walls hold me in as much as keep others out. I find it to be a rather pleasant fate; if I cannot have my forest, then give me a garden such as this and I will be happy.
It is beautiful here, and I work hard to keep it that way.
Rows of lavender crowd the winding paths on either side, clusters of tiny purple flowers hugging their pin-straight stems, smelling like lazy evenings and soft smiles. I like to weave them into my hair.
There is an arbor tunnel made of something lasting, but what exactly I cannot tell, as it is completely covered in dripping vines of honeysuckle. The entangled honeysuckle shades the path beneath it while smelling like sugar and mischief. Its vines like to play a game with me, where they wander off and try to take over the rest of the garden, and I stop them from growing anywhere that isn’t their arbor. There is no winner to the game, for they were made to grow and I was made to tend and neither of us wish to deny our nature.
Near the center of the garden is a small fish pond with a cascading fountain, the stones surrounding it concealed by a deep, soft carpet of moss. The fish swim in flashes of bright reds and yellows and blues. I’ve given each one a name in the language of the forest, and I think they’ve named me in the language of the river. If I ever see a river nymph again, I will ask to know what they have named me.
Trees are scattered throughout the garden, and I love each one as dearly as if they had grown in my own forest. There’s a weeping willow near the fish pond, large and old and gentle, with swaying branches that brush the ground.
There are several dogwoods that stopped growing when they were not much taller than me, their slender branches stretching out like the arms of a ballerina, and they burst with creamy four-petaled flowers every spring.
The crabapple is a gnarly old tree nearest to the iron gate, and its deeply pink blossoms fill each crook and knot of its branches, giving it a strange, wild sort of beauty. It told me its name once, a name too difficult to pronounce even in the language of the forest, and I think if it had a human form it would be smirking at me.
Two snowbell trees stand together by an old stone bench, their branches spread wide and tangling with each other, their white clusters of flowers looking wintery and calm. I like to sit on that bench when they are in full bloom, letting the white petals fall onto my hair and shoulders.
Thunder rolls quietly through the air, closer than ever, the clouds overhead heavy with anticipation. I am waiting to see a lightning flash, because that is what nymphs wish upon, and I have a wish for the stormy sky today.
I wish for a gentle, curious soul to wander across the iron gate and climb it. I wish for them to fall in love with this garden as I have. I wish for their company, for their wonder, for their hand in mine as I show them around.
Electricity pricks at my skin, and a raindrop hits my cheek. A lost forest nymph, rescued by a forgotten garden, wishing on the first lightning flash of a midsummer storm.
It is beautiful here.
I wish with all my might that I could share it.