The God and the Gardener

Submitted into Contest #87 in response to: Write about a mischievous pixie or trickster god.... view prompt


Fantasy Fiction Speculative

“The thing people don’t get is that being God gets exhausting. Humans seem to want nothing more than to be near God, maybe even be God, but I don’t even want to be God.”

The gardener furrowed his brows in response to the man in the ash tunic with a beard that looked like it housed bees. Who was this man, not only claiming to be God but complaining about it? All he wanted was to water the timid petunias peeking their heads into the world. They were his babies, along with the wistful anemones, flirty freesias and enigmatic hyacinths that graced the gardens, each a careful rolodex of his days. Others counted their time in hours, he counted them by stalks and buds.

“Do you want to be God?” the man claiming to be God enquired.

“I-I don’t know, sir,” he stammered,” I don’t think of these things. I am just a gardener tending to the palace grounds.”

God, since he didn’t give another name, tilted his head quizzically, as if confounded by the gardener’s  response.

“You don’t think about God at all? Are you not a religious man?”

The gardener paused to consider the question. “I am a man of faith. I believe in things I can nurture and bring to life, things of beauty that are good and kind, and harmless. Things that ask for very little more than air and water and sunlight. I believe in caring for those things, giving them life, and in death, giving them dignity.”

The man who fancied himself God smiled, his lips radiating delight into his eyes and arms.

“Then,” he said gleefully, “your job is not that different from mine.”

The gardener was starting to get agitated. The bronze evening light was dusting his lawn where his petunias were still awaiting their bath, and this man showed no signs of dropping his act. The gardener masterfully avoided talking to people by scurrying amongst flowers and hunching his back away from the world, but this man didn’t seem to be deterred.

“Sir, I don’t understand what I can do for you. If you are here to meet the King, you will want to go talk to the Palace Guards. I can’t help you. Sir, I am just here to take care of the flowers.”

“The King and I are old friends,” God’s namesake conceded,” I am not here to see him. I am here to find a successor. I am tired, old chap. I want to rest, find someone else to take over at the helm. The business of tending to humans is exhausting, and I am ready for an extended vacation. But the problem is everyone wants to be God too much. They think playing God is just that, playing. They want to orchestrate how the world works, and how humans work. But they don’t understand that it’s my job to - well like you said - bring to life, water, care for, give dignity to. But you can’t control what humans do, and trying is futile. All you can do is arrange the cosmos so humans face the consequences of their actions and watch life come full circle.

The moon took up the spot it had exchanged with the sun up above. Minus its dark spots, it reminded the gardener of the color of his dahlias. For a blink of a bloom the gardener contemplated the idea of being God. He thought of a different life for himself. Perhaps, finally he could get the things he had forfeited. Marry and have a family because he had something to his name. Talk to people who would listen like his flowers did, care for his opinion.

He thought of all the things he wanted of this world.  If he was God, he would turn the world into a garden, stop humans from destroying the gentle, life-giving beings that they loved to replace with forts and roads. He would stop humans from wasting so much; the mounds of fruits and vegetables and animal parts that were thrown out each day from the palace both astounded and saddened him. He would find a way to end wars that raged endlessly; his king’s ego seemed very fragile and there seemed to be no end to the ways and means to exact his revenge. Maybe, he would finally make a better world for everyone to live in, the gardener thought.

But here was this man, who allegedly performed God-like duties, that insisted humans couldn’t be diverted away from wasteful or harmful choices. Then what even was the point of being God?

He decided to ask.

The old man with the knitted weave of hair framing his chin looked up at the pearly moon as he answered. “The thing old chap,” he said pausing after every word to give it weight, “is that the thing that I know, what humans don’t understand, is that nothing on earth and in life compares to the afterlife. There, humans strip the ways of the world, the swords, the bombs, the hatred and live the life they never could on earth. Life begins with the afterlife, and there, there as God you get to mingle with humans as one. You get to visit the God in all humans and you never feel alone. Being God can be lonely you know, but in the afterlife, you find community.

The gardener looked out at his carpet of primroses retiring for the night. That’s the thing about flowers; once they were withered and done with the world, he lost them forever. He could plant one in place, but the bond he created with any one of his babies only lasted as long as he continued to care and put his all into it. In that way he felt lonely, in how flowers self-destructed leaving no trace of themselves behind, other than his memory of them.

Maybe God wasn’t such a fool for basking in an eternal bond with humans.

“What would it take for me to be God,” he found himself asking, startling himself at the idea.

“Ahh that old chap is an occasion as magnificent as the birth of a child. I need to perform the ceremony where we invoke the holy spirits of my predecessors to get their consensus for me to pass the baton to you. In order to do this, we need to surround ourselves with the most enigmatic of all things: the exquisite emerald that sits in your king’s vault, the one obtained from the cave of treasures. That thing so rare and beguiling, that it would entice all the Gods to earth to see it. Old chap, if you are able to get that regal gem, I think we might be able to make you God after all.”

The gardener watched the dusk settle on the garden like a blanket.  The idea that anything in the world could surpass the beauty of the flowers he was surrounded by bewildered him. He hadn’t even heard of this emerald, much less coveted it. Maybe that’s what being God was about, to yearn for a beauty that doesn't exist, ignoring the beauty in front. Maybe God’s obsession with connecting with humans was misplaced. Flowers, while fragile and transient, never hold back their gifts for an afterlife, they live their exuberance through every moment.

His petunias needed him more than humans did, he thought as he picked up his watering can.

April 01, 2021 02:25

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