The Ivy and the Rose

I took refuge in the garden of my youth, away from the raucous, garrulous humans, they seem to haunt me wherever I venture. I inserted the rusted iron key that hung on a nail beside the door into the ancient brass lock; I twisted the key clockwise one full turn and heard the brass bolt groan and creak as it was drawn into itself.

I put my shoulder against the old blacken door and pushed with all my might. The rusted iron hinges squealed in protest as the door opened. The door gave way opening enough for me to squeeze through the Ivy-encrusted opening. I struggled to free myself from the ensnaring ivy; brushing off those few strands that clung to me, I stood silent in the garden alone.

The garden, once a place of majesty was surrounded by thick alabaster walls and in the middle was an old wooden chair, where I spent many relaxing hours and seasons, watching the gardens renewal. The once withered flora would sprout anew, their shoots springing forth from the rich black earth their leaves turning to a luscious green, growing tall to meet the sun. Finally, in a concert of glorious color and conflagration they bloomed, the buds opened, revealing, their petals, and a sight to be envied by all who gazed upon those fragile flowers. Now it lay dead and silent.

The garden was unique, from the center, a path twisted its way around the pond, and then it diverges into four distinct paths. Those paths wound their way through the garden to each of the four corners.

These corners were special containing a small marble fountain and in its center was the statue of a Greek goddess each one different each one representing a different time of the year and each held a vase that spewed forth a stream of clear cold life giving water.

In the apex of each corner stood a portico whose red and blue streaked veined marble columns supporting a crystal dome surrounded by a web of gilded metal. In addition, in the center under the crystal dome, surrounded by the four columns was an intricately carved and adorned obsidian throne. Three ancient brass stools covered in a green patina sat at the feet of this throne as if they were humble servants to their queen.

The Giant centuries old, Thornberry trees towered skyward held in position by their massive paper barked trunks. The trees lofty spreading branches formed a great leafy green canopy shading the garden, from corner to corner and from wall to wall, from the bright sun. Beneath this great canopy of leaves, the Ivy covered the ground, twisting itself up the massive Thornberry trees and covering their trunks what could only be described as clothing. All around me the creepers stirred, driven by the wind the rustle of the dried Giant Thornberry Tree leaves were all that I could hear.

The Ivy, a rare and unique specimen with its variegated red and green leaves, its black creeping stems, and its fire red suckers could only be found under the century old Giant Thornberry trees. Nurtured by the rich black soil and fed by the never-ending supply of clear cold water this Passion Ivy grew only in my garden.

I walked down the path to the center of the garden and sat in an ancient wooden chair nestled beside the still waters of the pond, I lay back and gaze skyward at the luscious green canopy above me, I was at rest a deep peaceful rest and soon asleep.

Now as I slept in this most beautiful of gardens, dreaming of, all the things that is good in my life. The Ivy spread, creeping closer me from every direction, growing new leaves, and new suckers, ever nearer, closing the gap between us. I lay there my head back my arms resting on the armrests, my fingers dangling, when I first felt it. I felt its angry teeth; the Ivy had wrapped itself around my hand the suckers had buried themselves in my skin. I jerked my hand loose, tearing the ivy from my skin; I jumped up, and kicked loose the Ivy that had entangled my feet.

I ran to the pond across the Japanese style footbridge and stopping mid-span to get my bearings, all around me all I could see, everywhere I looked, was the Ivy and it looked back at me. The once beautiful coy pond that lay below my feet was now a killing pond. The Ivy strangled the coy sucking the life from them leaving only the bones and their scales floated on the surface of the water.

The Ivy climbed the bridge and dropped down from the Giant Thornberry trees their tendrils straining to catch me. I leapt from the bridge and raced to the door I had just entered. The old blacken door was now covered by the Ivy, and guarded by its tendrils and travelers, they lashed out at me like flicks from a whip, with each strike; stinging, slashing, cutting my skin, preventing me from leaving. My skin bled and each drop of blood that fell to the garden floor the Ivy pounced on it and ingested it in a maddening delight.

I ran along the wall, the wall, the alabaster wall so smooth and cool I reached out feeling it, it almost seemed to be alive, I sprung upon it and searched in vain for a foothold or a handhold, somewhere to grab, but all I seemed to accomplish was allowing the Ivy to come nearer to me.

The Ivy tried to climb the wall, but it too failed, it like me fell to the garden floor in a heap. Even the Ivy’s relentless strangle hold on everything in the garden couldn’t attach itself to the alabaster walls.

I ran back toward the door determined to pull the Ivy from it. The Ivy grabbed me ripped my clothes and tearing at my flesh. I pulled away from the Ivy, stumbled, the waiting Ivy swarmed over me covering me; I fought it and pulled myself free. The thought occurred to me would I be as strong enough to pull away from the ivy the next time I fell.

I ran along the wall and ran straight into the corner of the garden; right into the open arms of the Ivy covering the portico the gilded metal and crystal dome the magnificent craved and adorned throne and the fountain where the Greek goddess held the vase spewing the cold clear water, the lifeblood of the garden. My sixth sense took over “go around, do not enter” I stood frozen in place until it touched my ear, I swatted it away, looked up, above me in the lofty canopy or the Giant Thornberry trees hung the Ivy waiting for me to fall. I ran the tentacles ripping at my flesh and my soul.

I ran around the trap and was stopped again by the alabaster wall, I ran, I ran the only way left for me to run. The walls grew in height, their color changed, becoming lighter and smoother to the touch, and it drew me on, the wall the touch, beckoned me on, I broke through the Ivy and fell head first into a clearing, where the sun was shining, and I thought for a second, I heard a bird singing its song. The Ivy stopped moving, it dared not trespass into the clearing, and it just waited for me to come to it. I was cornered, trapped.

I turned around, surveyed, my surroundings; the two alabaster columns, neatly tucked into the corner, between them vertical cleft, and at the top of the cleft was a tangled mass of thorny canes. Maybe this was a place where I could hide from the Ivy or even climb out of this horrible garden of death.

I walked to the columns and touched the cool smooth alabaster surfaces, and then I slowly pushed my hand into the cleft, strangely, the inner space was warm, and damp even in the midday heat of the sun, the cleft should have been dry. Something I would have never imagined warmth and dampness from such a cold thing.

I climbed into the cleft and bean to climb wedging myself between the columns and slowly, painfully, inching my way up toward the thorny canes and freedom. I climbed away from the Ivy and surely from the death that waited on me below. I reached out and took hold of the first piece of thorny cane being careful not to impale myself with the needle sharp thorns. I pushed away other canes and picked my way through the tangled mass and my spirit soared high as the sky above. Then I was bathed in the warmth of the sunlight from above.

I reached out, took hold of the cane, and pulled myself out of the columns and in front of me was a beautiful rose bud. The bud, colored, deep red with little black tips on the ends of the petals, the rose quivered and moved, the more I pulled myself out of the canes the more the bud stirred. The bud unfolded its petals to reveal its inner most secrets, then without warning, the petals wrapped themselves around my body to my spine. A pain more unbearable than any, pain I have ever felt came over me. I began to pound on my captor, the bud, and its petals, never loosened they only tightened themselves tighter around me, and the more I struggled to free myself, the more intense the pain became. I threw my head back and screamed, my primal scream of death,

When I looked down at my chest, I saw the rose had buried its head into my chest, and now its stamens were caressing my heart, gently wringing all the life from my body. I tried again to fight it, and again, I tried in vain to fight back; but the pain was greater with each try and finally without hope I allowed this beautiful thing to kill me.

As I was dying I turned my head and looked about the ivy was gone, it no longer waited at the foot of the alabaster walls, it no longer hung from the canopy of the Giant Thornberry trees or clothed their trunks. It was gone from the Chinese footbridge and from the Coy that swan in the pond. The Ivy was meant there as a trap it wasn’t there to harm me. The Ivy had the cunning and craftiness to guide me on that fateful journey, and I allowed it to guide me, to steer me, in the direction, it wanted me to go, and I without a clue wandered deeper and deeper into its clutches.

However, I am the only one who died, in that garden of death, although the flesh did not die— my soul did that fateful day in May.

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