We’d escape into the evening in just our pyjamas, climbing over the broken gate to the neighbours yard where she’d stand in her doorway clutching her tea. Our parents would wander out soon to investigate as we jumped through twilight skies to catch fireflies. They’d of course slip through our fingers and twirl away in the moonlight. In my mind they were tinkering a laugh and playing along with us. They were trickster fairies delighting in our young hearts. Maybe none of it was in my head. “Don’t hurt them, dance with them. Be friends.” She’d say, a kind smile on her aged face.
In the morning we’d stretch out bronzed limbs in the same garden, weeding flower beds and following her lead as she tells us to encourage the flowers to bloom with kind words and gentle hands. As a teenager she would stroll passed me in the square, my vulgar hands ripping at the leaves of a bush. “Remember kind words, encourage them to grow. No one likes a bully.” I smile and it isn’t taunting, it’s reminiscent of golden days and soft hours chasing magic in every corner of her yard. Now the summers are long and lonely, cinema dates with friends and afternoons with my head buried in books.
Today I pass a garden over run in natural bliss, somewhere in New Zealand, magic manifested in colours and blossoms that I can’t identify and I smile and whisper “You’re beautiful, keep blooming.” As I hurry on past. It’s spoken spontaneously, barely a thought before it’s a phrase but it loops around me for the rest of the day. If a kind word can encourage the plants to grow, imagine what it could do for a human.