Things areN’T always what they seem
The Valley Called Tenang
I awoke in a place I’d never seen before. Then again, I remembered nothing of where I came from, so I could’ve been here a thousand times. I was surrounded by strange plants and oddities scattered with insects and doused with flowering buds. I grasped the damp grass in handfuls, and sat up to look around.
The place was quite obviously a garden, but it was so meticulously cared for. Who could it have belonged to?
Taking in my surroundings, I spotted a little orange sun hat poking just above a bush of swirly pink flowers. It moved slightly, and as I walked toward it, a soft, beautiful humming became audible of a tune I had never heard.
When I came upon the little gardener, I gave her an accidental fright. She startled and faced me. She had a cute, wet nose, as that of a dog. She was covered in bristly brown fur, and she smiled sweetly. Her dress had potting soil on the front where she’d brushed off her gloved paws while planting.
“Oh goodness!” She exclaimed. “I’m sorry, tall one, I didn’t know you had awoken.” She giggled softly at herself, and placed a picked flower behind my ear.
“Where exactly are we?” I asked as nicely as possible.
“Why, we’re in the Valley of Tenang, of course! A place of peace and solitude,” she replied, clapping her hands together happily.
“How did I get here? I don’t remember much of anything...” I explained, embarrassed.
“I brought you here. You seemed to be under a great amount of stress, and that simply isn’t right,” she said, returning her focus to the flower bush. I wasn’t sure what to say.
“What’s your name? And how did you find me?” I asked.
“My name is Edna, and it’s not difficult for a resident of the Valley of Tenang to find those who are in need of peace,” she didn’t pause to look up from the flowers.
“Oh,” was all I could say.
“What is your name, Tall One?” She asked.
“Truthfully, I’m not too sure, Ms. Edna,” I said, slightly embarrassed.
“Ah, I see. If that is so, then I shall call you...” she paused a moment. “Flora. Goddess of the flowers.” I nodded. That was quite flattering, and I blushed. More than I deserve, I thought. But how was I to be sure what I deserved?
“Flora, be a doll and hand me that watering can. It’s over there under the zimbara berry bush,” she instructed, pointing at the bush. It was speckled with small orange berries, and a stout teal watering can sat underneath it. It was Edna’s size. I quickly did as she said.
When I bent down to grab the can, something shiny caught my eye. Overstepping the fear of getting my jeans dirty, I got on my knees to examine it. It was a silver colored skeleton key. I picked it up in the opposite hand of the watering can, and returned to Edna.
Handing the water off to Edna, I asked, “Miss, what does this belong to?” I showed her the little key.
She looked at the key, puzzled. “I’m not sure, Flora. Perhaps the garden gate?” She said, rubbing her furry chin. “You can test it out, if you’d like.”
So I did. And it did not work. I returned to Edna once more.
“No luck? What a shame...” she said, frowning. “What a curious object.”
“Indeed, Miss Edna.”
“Go on then, Flora. Experience the tranquil state of the Valley of Tenang,” she gestured at the sky, and smiled a cute little smile. I nodded, and walked off on my own.
The garden seemed never ending. It was so large, it was hard to believe that Edna cared for it all on her own. It was beautiful. It was all beautiful, except for one patch.
There was a patch in one of the furthest corners that Edna had not mentioned. It was surrounded by a dark iron fence, and filled with strange plants. It was much more melancholy than all the beautiful bushes filled with flowers and berries and other strange bobbles. It was fenced off by a much taller fence made of pitch painted iron. It’s gate, too, was locked.
I felt for the key in my pocket. Pulling it out, I inserted it into the ancient lock. As I turned the key and the lock fell, I heard Edna shout, “No, Flower Child! Do not touch that!” She was running as fast as her stout, furry legs could carry her, keeping her skirt from dragging with her paws.
Before I could stop the following event, the gate creeked open and a plant from the middle of the little patch sprung to life. Edna came no closer, but shrieked.
The plant was not like any other plant I had ever seen, or so I thought. It was oh so tall, towering over everything. It had a mouth. It had a mouth full of teeth. It had a mouth full of sharp, sharp teeth that was wide, wide open. And that mouth was ready to gulp me right up with no hesitation, and in that moment I made a very strange choice. I didn’t move. I willingly let it eat me whole, and the last thing I heard was a shrieking “Flora, no!”
I awoke in a place I’d never seen before. Then again, I remembered nothing of where I came from, so I could’ve been here a thousand times.
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