January 24: "Write about a summer garden"

- The Guardian Giant -

The grass was spongy and soft as it slipped between his toes. It had an immaculate emerald shade since his father spent most of his Saturdays fertilizing, watering, and trimming the lawn. The calming, crisp property was the man's pride and joy. Billy suspected even he didn't match up with the manicured perfection his father spent his Saturdays maintaining.

That wasn't why the boy was running around barefoot, though. Sure, most of their neighbors did see their quarter-acre as sincerely being the greener side of the fence. The envy of the street. For Billy, however, it was just a cooling carpet that led him to the real jewel of their yard: his mother's garden that lined the back of their property.

He was seven now, and his mother had promised that he could help. Two months ago they went to the nursery together and he sprinted from shelf to shelf picking out what he wanted to add. Sunshining daisies to smile at them as they approached the garden. A rainbow of geraniums to bring magic to their work. Red, leafy coral bells for bugs to hide in. Tall lilac bushes to attract butterflies.

Then there were the stones. Large painted stones with inspirational phrases to scatter throughout. Small, smooth stones to line the garden and separate it from his father's grass. A small boulder that their brown cat Tibtib could perch on as he sunbathed or hunted rodents that dared to enter their paradise.

Billy's mom reminded him that magical kingdoms needed subjects, so he picked out a couple of goofy looking frogs to place along the base of the lilacs, as if they were trying to eat the butterflies that would visit. Then Billy found a small army of serious looking gnomes to help keep guard. His mom allowed him to pick out two, and then she found a fairy lounging on a mushroom. She suggested that the fairy be the princess of their garden.

Playing in the dirt was fun. Getting filthy was always a blast, and seeing as much dirt on his mother's face and in her hair as he had made him giggle. His favorite part was picking out where everything went. The daisies were just inside the rock fence, cheering everyone up as they approached. The thick leaves of the coral bells grew along the sides of the garden, creating a thick wall to shield the magical kingdom inside. The geraniums were arched as if they really were a rainbow, and Her Royal Highness Princess Silverwings sat on her toadstool in the center of the rainbow. The back of the garden, climbing up the fence, were their lilacs with their pale purple blossom beads.

Billy had placed Yogi, a frog in a pretzel of a yoga pose, at the base of one bush, as if Yogi were stretching to make the five-foot leap up to his butterfly dinner. The other frog, Kermit, laid on his stomach and kicked his legs behind him as he looked longingly up at the second bush. As if he was just waiting for his dinner to come down to him. Morgan the gruff-looking gnome in a green hat and brown shirt leaned against his shovel like a guard at attention. He was at the center of the daisies, keeping watch of all who dared to enter the garden. The other gnome was sweeter looking, but just as serious with his duties. He held out a lantern to help keep watch. His red hat and blue shirt reminded Billy's mom of an old cartoon, so they named him David. He was at the base of Tibtib's resting boulder.

The garden looked so good after hours of playing with the soil patch. Then came the weeding. Billy hated weeding. It was fun at first, digging into the dirt with his bare fingers and ripping clover out of his garden. It got old fast, though. He had to be out there every Sunday after church. That way he was out of his father's way while he rested up, and Billy couldn't weed on Saturdays while his dad was outside, because he could ruin the lawn manicuring ritual. His mother told him it wasn't safe with the fertilizer spray and the mower running, but Billy knew it was because his father wanted to be alone with his lawn.

The other thing Billy hated about weeding was that the garden was huge. It would take the young boy hours to pull the weeds out. His mother told him to pretend that he was a guardian giant plucking an enemy out of a battle for the magical kingdom; he was protecting their garden. It helped, but it still took too long. His mother typically let him stop after ninety-minutes or so as she finished. She would tell him how she appreciated his effort and send him on his way.

Once Billy saw the flowers flourish, though, he was overwhelmed with joy. The geraniums filled the gaps between them to make the rainbow look like a continuous ribbon of petals. Butterflies did come to the lilacs. The centers of the daisies were as yellow as lemons. Rabbits would rustle under the coral bells before Tibtib would chase them off.

Billy's cheeks hurt from smiling as he pointed it all out to his mother, who smiled and held him close, telling him how proud she was at how well he took care of his magical kingdom. It was hard to keep the child out of his garden after that. He pulled weeds as soon as he saw them instead of waiting for Sundays. He splashed water all over himself as he ran over with his mother's watering can to pour a drink across his patch of land. His first stop after school every day was his garden to smell each individual flower as he munched away at his after school snack.

In the warmth of July, he had nothing keeping him from his jewel of the yard. He and Tibtib would race to the line of daisies. Tibtib would slink over to his boulder and soak up the sun as Billy greeted his subjects. Hello, Yogi, how's the yoga going? Hello, Kermit, any treats come down to meet your tongue? Hello, David, scared away any monsters last night? Hello, Morgan, stomp any weeds back into the ground? And hello, M'lady Silverwings, everyone serving you well? He'd then fetch everyone water before smelling his flowers and laying beside his garden, snuggled on top of his father's lawn.

Billy understood being proud of something you helped grow. He never understood why his father chose the grass over the garden, though. Grass was soft and comfy, but it was boring. Gardens were pretty, and unique, and they smelled good. Gardens had bugs and playing in dirt. Gardens had wars with weeds and needed the help of Guardian Giants. Gardens could be made with many people all laughing together. Gardens were jewels. Gardens were magical. Gardens were kingdoms.

**A/N: A simple little story that I wrote on my front porch. I had no clue where to go with this, and I had no clue how to really polish this up. This is pretty close to my first draft. Just a fun little writing practice while enjoying the warming weather outside.**