Garden Refuge by Melissa Ann Long
We met in the garden. It was one of those lazy summer days where the heat gives way to a quick shower and rain sprays over your skin. I was sitting in the cove of a willow tree, protected by its sloping limbs when he came up behind me.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Startled, the charcoal stick in my hand snapped and pieces scattered over the page in my favorite sketch book.
“What are you doing?” he asked again.
I quickly grabbed my bag, collecting my things before standing. “I’m sorry,” I started, the words barely leaving my lips before his hand wrapped around mine, pulling me back towards him. “I was just leaving,” I mumbled.
It was a lie. I wasn’t sure why I bothered. He didn’t believe a word of it.
“Sit with me?” he asked.
Reluctantly, I let him pull me back towards the ground; let him maneuver his body so that my head rested against his shoulder and his arm draped across my back. It was heaven there, in the comfort of his world, with the smell of his cologne lacing each breath. I wanted it to last forever.
But nothing ever does.
I could hear my name off in the distance. Someone calling me, demanding I return to a world, a life, I hated. I tightened my grip on his shirt, refusing to let go. It was no use. His image began to blur as the world around me melted away. I felt a single tear trail along my face. It wasn’t enough time, never enough time.
I woke up with a start in the darkened room, mother banging on the locked door, threatening to remove it from the hinges if I didn’t show any sign of life. I groaned and reached for the light switch as something fell from the blankets tangled around my body. In a moment of confusion I stared down at the flower, a virgin white lily, resting on the floor. Then a rush of warmth took my breath away. Fingers shaking I lifted the flower and inhaled.
It was the first of many bedside gifts from my garden refuge.