The Garden of Life

Submitted for Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about an unlikely friendship.... view prompt

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           The Petersons are an average family. There is nothing really special about them at all. Peter and Paula Peterson are the parents. They wake up every morning at 6:15 am, get dressed, and are ready to start their day. Paula prepares pancakes for their children, Paul and Petunia while they take turns in the bathroom. Peter works as a Postal Carrier in the town of Paradox Cove. Their pink house on Patterson Street is only a short ride to Peter’s work. Paula plans her day at home where she will put the kids on the bus to go to school and then works in her pretty garden filled with her purple Passion Flowers that she had entered into the County gardening contest every year, but had never won.. Today started off like any other day, but all of that would soon change.

           While Paula watered her flowers, she was startled by a voice shouting out “Hey!” from somewhere behind the Honeysuckle bush. Paula dropped her watering can and stepped back, staring at the garden with fright. The leaves on the bush began to rustle, and suddenly a garden gnome appeared. He stood no higher than her shin, had on a red cap that pulled off slightly as it hooked onto a branch as he walked revealing a balding head. His white beard was stained red from the berries that he was munching on and he walked with a waddle like a duck. Paula screamed at the sight of this unusual little man and he yelled back in response saying, “Stop your screaming lady! You are acting as if you’ve never seen a gnome before.”

           “I haven’t…I mean, I have…but never one that walked and talked,” Paula said. “I thought garden gnomes were just little statues that you put in your gardens or on your lawn for good luck and protection. I didn’t realize that you actually existed!”

           “You big people are all the same,” the gnome replied. “You don’t believe in what you don’t understand. The truth is, there are thousands of gnomes who have families to provide for. We just hide out in gardens when big people are around because you don’t normally pay attention. Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Pudgy Pintsize.”

           Paula introduced herself and then asked Pudgy more questions about his people. She was no longer frightened but instead was curious to hear more. It turned out the Pudgy was the oldest of 17 children. It was hard to tell the male gnomes from the female gnomes, however, because they all had beards from the time they turned 10-years-old. Pudgy also told Paula that most of his kind live underground, but some choose to live in the trees. Unfortunately, not many have the skill to climb a tree with short little arms and legs. They live on fruits and vegetables that they scavenge from local gardens and orchards.

           “Would you be interested in meeting my family, Pudgy?” Paula asked her new friend. “I’m positive that they would be pleased to meet you. Perhaps I could persuade you to stay for dinner tonight?”

           “That would be very pleasant,” Pudgy responded. “Would it be okay if I brought my wife, Patty, and my daughter, Penny along with me?”

“That would be perfect!” Paula said excitedly. “I will prepare a meal suitable for your family’s palate. Please be back here by 5 pm. That will allow time for our families to meet before we eat.”

           “We will be here. I am very punctual.” Pudgy said before dashing off across the yard; his legs moving fairly quickly considering how short they are.

           At 3:45 pm, the school bus arrived in front of the Peterson house. Paul and Petunia removed their packs from their backs and kicked off their shoes before pouncing on their mother who was now relaxing for a moment on the couch. She hugged them tightly and kissed them before telling them to go upstairs and get cleaned up. She told them that they had very special guests coming for dinner tonight and she wants them to look their best. The kids did as they were asked, and while they were upstairs, Peter arrived home from work. Peter barely had his shoes off when Paula told him to go get showered and put on something nice. Peter was going to question his wife’s request, but he knew better. Instead, he gave her a quick kiss and headed upstairs to shower.

           Once everyone was cleaned up and dressed nicely, Paula sat them down and explained that she invited some very special people to dinner. She told them about her encounter with Pudgy and the interesting stories that he told her. Just then, a light knock came from the back door so Paula went to answer it. Pudgy and his family stood at the entrance to their back door waving with huge grins on their faces. Pudgy’s wife, Patty looked very similar to him; the only difference being that her beard was shorter and darker. Penny, their daughter, had no beard, so she must be under the age of 10. Paula invited them in and brought them into the living room to introduce her family to them. When they entered the room, the Peterson children stood in amazement with their mouths hanging open. Peter stepped forward with his hand held out to shake their hands, however, he had to kneel onto the floor to reach their short little arms.

           “It is a great pleasure to meet you and your family, Pudgy,” Peter exclaimed. “I apologize for the reaction of my children. They aren’t used to unusual things happening around here. Petunia, Paul, please come here and say hello.” The children did as they were told and eventually got over their shock.

Patty asked the Peterson kids what grades they were in. Paul said that he was in sixth grade and Petunia told Patty that she was in third grade. Then Patty mentioned that she was a teacher among their people and offered to help Petunia and Paul with help on any problems they might have with their school work if they needed it. Pudgy said that he was a gardener and offered to help Paula with her flowers. He said that with his help, she would win First Prize in this year’s County Fair gardening contest. Paula gladly accepted his assistance.

           After a delicious meal consisting of fruits, vegetables, salad, and homemade bread, the gnome family excused themselves stating that they had to get their little one home to bed, but Pudgy promised that he would return tomorrow and help Paula with her garden. Peter, Paula, Paul, and Petunia watched the Pintsize family disappear between the bushes and they went back inside to talk over the events of the evening.

           The next day, Pudgy returned as promised and was already at work in the garden when Paula entered the backyard. Using his tiny hands, he tilled the soil like a dog digging for a bone. Once the soil showing was fresh and dark, he reached into a satchel that he carried over his shoulder and pulled out tiny green and white seeds which he spread around the base of all of the Passion Flowers. He then lightly covered all of the seeds with loose dirt and asked Paula to water the flowers around the base of the stems, but not too much. “Just enough water to make the soil moist but not wet.” Paula did as he said. “I will be back in a couple of days to check on the progress,” he said.

           The next day, Paula went out to the garden to have a look, and to her amazement, her Passion Flowers seemed to be standing taller and the color was a brighter purple than before. She chose to leave them alone until Pudgy returned the following day, and by the time she came out into the garden the following day, her flowers had grown another 4 inches and the blooms were wide and beautiful. She thanked Pudgy profusely and immediately called the judges panel at the County Fair telling them that she would like to enter her Purple Passion Flowers into the contest. The judges arrived later that afternoon with a photographer to check out the last-minute entry and it went very well. The judges smiled and whispered in each other’s ears while nodding their heads in agreement. The photographer snapped several pictures of the flowers from different angles and then followed the judges as they shook Paula’s hand and said that they would be in touch.

           One week later, while Peter was delivering the mail, he came across a letter addressed to Paula from the Horticultural Society, so he immediately called Paula to tell her. She met him on his route and opened the letter in front of him. Her eyes lit up as read…

Dear Mrs. Peterson,

 

           I would like to congratulate you on successfully obtaining first prize in the County Fair Horticultural Contest. In addition to your prize money of $1,000 and the $500 in gardening supplies, pictures of your Purple Passion Flowers are going to be featured in next month’s issue of Glorious Gardens Magazine.

           Enclosed is a check for your prize money and a gift card that you can use towards your supplies. Once again, congratulations. We look forward to your future entries.

 

Sincerely,

Greta Greenthumb

 

           Peter gave his wife a big hug and congratulated her then continued with his deliveries. Paula headed home and went into the backyard calling out Pudgy’s name. After a few minutes, he emerged from under the fence crunching down on a red delicious apple that was almost the size of his tiny head.  

           I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for me, Pudgy. I won the contest like you said I would, and my flowers will be featured in a national magazine next month, but none of this would have been possible without your help. What was in those seeds that you planted?”

           “You did the hard part, all I did was give it a little boost. The seeds were a magical enhancer that only gnomes know of. I shared it with you because of the kindness that you and your family had shown my family and me. I hope we can continue to spend more time together in the future as well. We don’t often have an opportunity to associate with big people, so it would give us great joy to do so with you and your family.”

           “You and your family are always welcome here, Pudgy. Perhaps you can teach me more about gardening as well.”

           “Nothing would please me more,” Pudgy replied.

           Over the next several years, Pudgy’s family stopped by regularly for a visit with the Petersons. They became the best of friends. Patty helped the Peterson children raise their grades in school and young Penny grew to become one of Petunia’s closest friends, even after Penny’s beard started growing in.

 

The End.

 

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