When you’re born, a thick layer of soil is spread on the ground. It stretches endlessly to the far reaches of the horizon, disappearing far from sight. You pinch lightly at the soil and rub it between your fingers. Bits of decayed roots and rotten leaves brush the pores on your finger. It has potential. But it’s by no means ready.
You work day and night. Sometimes, as you plow through the soil, the sunlight brings out small blades of fresh grass from within the dirt. But the soil is not ready, and the grass is too weak. Within a few minutes, they turn yellow and shrivel back beneath the surface. You feel the earth is filling with nutrients each passing day. Drops of sweat and blood, mixed with water, baptize the soil, and the grass lasts a little longer. All your hard work is paying off.
Days turn into weeks, weeks drag into months. In a blink of an eye, a year has passed.
You till the soil, making it softer and healthier. Sometimes, the steady rhythm of the falling rain accompanies you. Sometimes, it is your shadow cast by the warm sun. Sometimes, you sleep all through the day. Sometimes, your aching back and blistered hands keep you up all night.
One day, you finally see the fruits of your labor; a seed has grown into a sapling bigger than anything you’ve ever witnessed before. It’s your first memory. You smile as you pat the soil firmly around the plant, hoping that it will never submit to the gusts of time. Grass is popping up more frequently now, along with some pesky weeds. They scar your flowerbed. Just when you think you’ve gotten rid of them, they come back and haunt you. You wonder if you’ll be able to keep up.
You are proud of your handiwork. Once in a while, you come back to take care of your first sapling, but as more saplings pop up from the rich soil, you soon forget about it. The sapling crumbles, and the wind blows it away to a fine dust that scatters into the night. It’s gone.
Sometimes, another figure helps you with your endeavors. She helps you tend to the soil and adds her own seeds to your collection. She offers you a drink when you’re tired, a towel when you’re sweating, a tissue when you’re crying. She gives you motherly love and cheers for your every endeavor. Sometimes, there are other figures that enter your ever-growing garden. Some offer support and seeds. Many throw down weeds, and you watch them, helpless. The weeds keep you up all night. You try to hide them among a pile of soil and smother their disgusting sprouts. But they always pop out and come back to plague you.
6 years have passed, and the once barren land is becoming a blooming sanctuary of plants. Some of them are bright and beautiful, while others are bland and colorless. With the limited amount of time you have, you naturally tend the bright ones. The number of visitors in your garden has spiked, along with the plants they have gifted. And yet again, not all of them have been beautiful. Among the worst are the eye-catching weeds that stick ever so tightly into the soil. You try to cast them into the shadows, but whenever you look to appreciate your garden, it’s always there, popping out hideously.
For the bulk of your life, it’s a cycle. New people come into your garden and plant seeds. You tend your garden, sleep, repeat. Sometimes, you just stare up at the sky, other times you prune and admire your amazing achievements.
One day, as you’re trimming your magnificent bush, a woman comes up to you. She hands you a seed, the most beautiful one you’ve ever seen. You immediately cup your hands around it, and find the most beautiful place for it. There, you plant the seed. It immediately sprouts into a purple lilac. The woman catches up with you, and watches curiously as you tend to your newfound treasure. The two of you spend the rest of the day laughing, strolling around, and fantasizing about your hopes and dreams. When she leaves for the night, you realize that the purple lilac you planted had already given birth to a plethora of others.
Day after day, she comes to visit you. Sometimes, you sit with her near your fabulously sculpted bushes. Other times, you show her the fields of sunflowers. But at the end of the day, you always show her your collection of lilacs. Their soft scent warms up your heart. You lace your fingers with hers, and new flowers bloom around the flowerbed euphorically.
Then, one day, as you lie in the bed of lilacs, waiting for her to come, dark clouds shadow the skies. Thunder booms overhead, lightning screams with an evil cackle. A torrent beats down mightily. Where is she?
You trudge through your garden in despair as many of the plants are uprooted and flooded by the storm. You keep searching.
Until you see a purple petal. And then another. And another. You follow the trail in a frantic sprint, before coming to a grinding halt.
There she is.
Hands on her chest, eyes closed, mouth slightly curved upwards. You drop to your knees and cling tightly to her. You try to shield her from the monstrous storm, the howling wind, but it’s no use. Her body fades into petals and blows violently away in the wind. You try to snatch the last of her remains, the kind words, the smoothness of her hands, the sweetness of her lips. But it’s all in vain, she’s gone. She’s gone. Forever, in the winds of time.
What happened? You are still in a daze. There’s nothing you wish more than to live all your moments with her again. Where did it go wrong?
Your mind is still blank even after the church bells ring. Your whole body is numb with agony and you’re paralyzed inside. You try to think of her soft smile, her gentle touch and her kind words. Nothing comes up, your mind is still in a daze. You wish nothing more than to go with her. You wish you could go to heaven and snatch her back. But you’re powerless. There’s nothing you can do.
The storm calms only after many agonizing months. The place where she remained has given birth to the ugliest abomination since, and yet you can’t help but come back to this spot. You wander between the lilac field and the ugly plant, and your days become a blur.
Many years later, you realize that you’ve gotten old. You can no longer plant as many flowers, no longer care for as many plants. One by one, the weakest ones crumple into dust and float away. Your first job. Your last day of high school. Then, even the stronger ones began to shrivel. The horizon falls apart in front of your eyes, but you are in no shape to resist. Becoming the mentee of someone you’ve idolized for years. Raising your cat since it was a little kitten, then holding a silent funeral when it passes away. Laughing and crying with your parents…
Everything starts to fade. The world is boundless, and you are just a passenger.
Finally, the lilacs. Your first love. Your last love. Your true love. The times you spent together are ones that you’ll forever cherish. Tears well up in your eyes just from the thought. The sweet scent brings overwhelming nostalgia, and your tears accumulate into uncontrollable sobbing.
The ground starts sliding very slowly, tilting onto its side. You grab onto something, anything to keep you from falling. Your hands snag onto the lilacs, a particular bundle that is rooted deeply into the ground. The soil continues to tilt, until the ground is near vertical. Everything is spinning; everything is waning. For a couple of days, you hang there, braving the chilling wind. At last, however, both of your grips become weak. You can’t hold on. With a final jerk, you close your eyes and pull the lilacs out from the ground, hugging them close to your chest.
The sweet scent of the lilacs close to your face is sudden and overwhelming, knocking your eyes open. It’s her. Radiant, smiling, just like how you first met her. You’ll never forget her smile, the smile that sparked the first lilac bloom. Silently, she pinches off one of the lilac flowers and sticks it gently into your hair.
“May you never forget this moment,” she whispers, as she pulls you into a warm embrace. Tears stream down your eyes, which turns into uncontrollable weeping.
“I’ve missed you so much. So so much.”
And you fall into the abyss with the scent of sweet lilacs, the last of your garden of memories.
Photo: Yoksel Zok on Pixabay.com