In the Garden, Creative Essay Example
Words: 3099Creative Essay
Daisy is my name, a name of innocence and simple goodness. It is a name that was my life, as well. I grew up with thirty girls for six years, devoting myself to nothing but remaining worthy of the honors class. Boys simply did not exist. There were teachers who were men, as there was my father, but they ruled over a world of girls. It was not until high school that this protected garden opened up, for then boys – incredibly, to me – were suddenly everywhere. With this new breed of being came all the newness of how the normal world goes on, and all of it was alien to me. I was the classic country girl, thrown into the big city. It was then that I first heard the “F” word, on television. It was then that I heard the same word yelled out in my school. Somehow, though, I remained the Daisy I had been. I studied hard and minded my own business, and the other boys and girls admired me, even as they pitied me a little. The naïve, innocent girl, the one with her nose always in the books; is she frightened of living? If she was, life was to force her into facing realities beyond any garden wall.
On a winter evening during my second semester, rain had given way to a blue-black, early nightfall. I was making my way home as usual, after lessons with my tutor. In my memory now, there was something in the air then, a suspended kind of calm, or tension. The wet pavements shimmered, as though the ground beneath me was shifting with every step. Then I turned my head to follow an odd sound, and knew that an actual fight was happening in a nearby alley. I had never witnessed anything like this, or even been near to one. There were no street lights, making the moment more fearful and less real, like stumbling blindly through a nightmare. People, I saw, were gathering around a body lying at the entrance to the alley; beyond this point, the fight raged on. I did not think. I simply reached for my Girl Scout whistle. I remember that my fingers were trembling as they gripped the warm metal. I remember a fluid movement of my hand raising the whistle to my lips, even as I reflexively cried out, “The police are coming!” In the darkness of the alley, someone cursed angrily, and ran away. A moment later, and the entire scene was deserted. I slowly moved into the alley, my eyes squinting to see what I could see. Puddles from the rain became clearer. Then I saw how blood had polluted them. I turned to leave, when a groan seemed to arise from the ground itself, as though the earth had been wounded. I turned again and saw the victim of the attack. I believed I saw his groan hanging in the air around him like a mist, so painfully a part of him it took on a form of agony above him.
Months passed, and the bizarre evening receded in my mind. Life went on exactly as it always did. One day, a crowd of people lingered outside the classroom. It was strange; only the oddness of this suddenly reminded me of that night in the alley. Jenny, a friend, educated me as to what was going on. “I heard Silas just got out of the hospital,” she whispered. “He’s coming to our class to thank someone.”
“Who is Silas?” I asked, not yet putting the pieces together.
Jenny gaped at my ignorance. “Silas. The head of senior class. And so hot!” I was, still, Daisy. I was not interested, and I had to study for the math quiz. I took out my textbook, then noticed a man in a senior’s uniform at the door of my classroom. His face was bruised, his left arm was in a cast, and he slowly made his way in, walking directly to me. All around me, even as I could not turn away from this face nearing me, I felt the silence and the stares of everyone there circling us.
“Daisy. I owe you my life.” He did not lower his voice to say this. Carefully using his injured arm and hand, he removed his necklace and slipped it over my head. Only when the chain touched my skin was I aware that my heart was racing. The moment was suspended in the cool air of the room, just as time had ceased in that alleyway. Somewhere in the back of mind mind, a question stirred: when he and I are together, does time stop?
“Silas Walker! What the hell are you doing here?” The discipline master’s voice shattered the spell.
“Sir, I was just being thankful. Isn’t that what you taught me to be?” He smiled disdainfully, turned around, and walked out the classroom. The entire class then rushed around me. “Daisy! You saved the boss!” “Daisy! How did it happen?” “Oh, God, Daisy, is he your man?” The questions danced around me, shrill and insistent, then flying off unanswered. I kept my head down in modesty. In doing so, my eyes fixed on the necklace.
Silas did not pursue me. Nonetheless, my status had changed. More months passed, but respect was still powerfully attached to me. Beneath all of this, and at odd moments in the most ordinary of days, I saw again in my mind that bruised face, approaching my own. I heard again the gratitude touched with tenderness. On the last day of the semester, a cohort surrounded me the moment I walked out into the campus. I was frightened. Was I, now, to become a victim as well?
“Daisy, boss wants to see you,” one of them said. I gathered what courage I had and asked who this boss was.
“Silas Walker, the head of the school.” My hand went to touch the necklace, even as the voice suddenly gave shape to my memories.
“Daisy…” The voice was so familiar, far more familiar than it should have been. “Yes. It’s me,” he said gently. “Let me take you home.” I rode on the back of his motorcycle. I know I let myself dare to imagine being cared for, like an ordinary girl in dream she knows is a dream.
I also let myself into a world with rules and ideas I could not understand at all. Word went around, everywhere, that I was Silas’s woman, yet nothing passed between us but warm silences. I found myself needing to lie to my parents, even as my conduct remained innocent. I was the good girl, with fine grades and a perfect reputation; Silas was the classic bad boy, the punk, the outlaw headed for trouble. Yet Silas respected me because I was Daisy, the girl from the sheltered garden. It became bitterly ironic that he seemed to care for what I was wishing to discard. Even so, I would not date him. Silas would wait for me a few blocks from my house, even as his friends stood by for him, even further away. When I asked him why, he said that he never wanted to be the cause of my getting into trouble. We would ride away, the friends keeping a respectful distance behind, almost like a protective escort.
He lightly brushed my hair with his fingertips. I do not know where we were, except that it was safe. “Go out with me?” I shook my head, sadly. He gently lifted my chin with his hand, raising my face to his.
“Please, Daisy? It’s my birthday.” The boyishness of this – so like my own innocence! – nearly broke my heart.
“My father…my parents. They’ll never permit it.”
In a flash, he jumped onto his bike. “I’ll go talk to them,” he said. I grabbed at his t-shirt, telling him he was insane to think of such a thing. My fear stopped him. Still, in the same, steady, touching way, he said, “Have dinner with me.” Somewhere in my mind just then, I understood how girls fall in love with the wrong boys. They do not let go until you belong to them, and maybe only a girl can know what that means.
What happened at home, I know now, had to happen.
“Sweetie, get over here.” Father was waiting, and he called to me as soon as I walked in the door. “You are very…close with a gangster lately, aren’t you?”
Something in me erupted violently. Something in me heard the gentle voice of Silas again, and then heard my own father as a liar. I protested, defending Silas. There could be no good from it. My father’s even tone changed.
“Let me tell you something. From now on, you do not go out, and I will take you to school and pick you up after.” He paused, and the effect was not lost on me. “You will stay away from that punk.” The entire house was hushed in an awful silence. I broke it, screaming my hatred at my father, screaming the same anger at my mother. I think I cried for hours after, in my locked room.
Silas knew something had happened, of course, when he and I had a chance to be alone on the campus. We sat in a secluded nook, and I would not at first answer his searching questions. There was little point, anyway. He knew what had happened.
“Did he hit you?” The question nearly made me cry. I raised my face for the first time to his, shaking my head, stunned by this care. In the corner of my eye, I saw us being seen. I then followed that witness with my own eyes, defiantly offering proof of whatever would be reported. Part of me wanted to jump up and shout, and throw my arms around Silas in front of the world. I wanted everyone to see me not being perfect Daisy. I wanted, more than anything, to be allowed to be human and weak.
We then talked, Silas and I, but very little was said. It was another suspension of time and space, the two of us caring for each other in a world apart from the real one.
I felt like my soul was being torn in two. Just being with him was wonderful and safe, yet I was desperate for a recklessness at that moment he was not prepared to offer. I felt that, if what we had was undefined, my father had drawn the lines around it. He had made it easier for us, in a strange way, to be closer. In fighting us, my father had made us one.
I felt his hand lightly touch my hair again, and I looked up to meet his eyes. He was not looking at me, though, but to a distance I could not see. I remember thinking that he had never seemed so handsome, almost like a painting of an ancient warrior, but there was something in his face that frightened me as well.
“I’m taking you home,” he said.
“No!” My reaction was violent and immediate. It was also, I think, calculated. We had been seen. I wanted time, time for word to get out, time for my father to believe I had run away, and given myself completely to the boy he despised. I wanted a scandal and shame because that would man I had left myself behind, a good girl in a garden whose time had passed. For that, I think I would have done anything. “Silas,” I said, “you’ve said I’m yours. You can’t hand me back now.”
He smiled in a sad and strange way, but his words were true. I know they were true, and deeply meant. “I don’t want to, Daisy.” Then he gently brushed his lips on my cheek. It was that moment, I think, that decided me.
“You don’t have to. I want to be yours, Silas. I’m sure of it.” He said nothing, but he sighed deeply. “If not today…all right. Take me home. But I’m ready, and I want you to know I’m not afraid.” We rode back in silence, my head resting on his shoulder, his boys following us from a respectful distance. It felt a little like a funeral procession, so I shut the thought out of my mind.
I walked a long block alone, Silas having stopped away from my home. As I walked, I felt his eyes on me, even as I saw the window blind open from the house. Every step felt exciting. Daisy? An object of stares from a love behind her and the frantic care before her, the center of a struggle? It was so unthinkable that this could be me, dizziness came over me. Still, I made my way assured and strong. I saw my own hand grip the door knob and turn it, and I felt powerful enough to have torn the door off and flung it aside. I stepped into the cool dark of the room, prepared for an assault on my being and on the man who would be my lover.
This was not to be. I was overwhelmed by the silence, and a sadness in the air I believed I could touch. My father – he looked so old, so suddenly – was sitting in his chair, not pretending to be occupied. There was no yelling, although he knew where I had been. His eyes, weighted by deep shadows, were fixed on me, but in a pleading kind of way that broke my heart.
“Daisy. Honey, maybe you should rest for a little while. Go on up to your room; I’ll call you for dinner, all right?” I understood the question below the spoken one. Will you forgive me? In my room, I stared at the ceiling, unable to fathom how worlds could turn around in the space of seconds, time and again. I realized that my mother had fought with him on my behalf, but I think I also knew his regret would have been there anyway. It was not fully real in a way I could understand, but I felt cheated. He had offered rage and resistance, and this had moved me nearer to Silas. He had no right to soften and take away this thing. My heart ached in wanting to thank him for this love breaking through his anger, yet I would not allow myself to feel this. I had made up my mind to give myself to Silas, however he wanted me. I could not let this weakness from my father alter the course. I saw in my mind a Daisy ahead, a very different girl, and I was not prepared to lose her so suddenly. Not even in the face of this ultimate proof of caring.
The next morning, I left the house early. School was not a concern. I simply walked, knowing that Silas would be nearby soon, circling for signs of me. I was right. He had come for me. All that was left was for me to honor my own decision. I moved to his motorcycle trembling, but certain.
We did not go far, only to a small grove where there was privacy. It was then that I knew. He had not taken me far from my home because he would not take me from it at all. As I had made my choice, he had made his. I stepped off the bike, and he reached out to take my hand and lead me to a spot below a large tree. I felt his hand tighten around mine. It was a clasp that is like a desperate hug, when someone says goodbye. We sat, and neither one of us said anything for a long time. I could not speak because I did not have the courage to hear what I knew his answer would be. I remember that, when I looked at his beautiful face, the sadness in it infuriated me. Then it passed, and the same sadness swallowed me up as well.
I am not sure, but I believe the last words Silas said to me were, “Daisy. I will not let you be hurt.” This was his goodbye, the unbearable hurt made to save me from another kind. He was going to save me. He was going to make sure my life would go on as it should, even as I would have run from it that very morning, forever, to be with him. In something like shock, I laughed a little. He stared, but I could not explain. I could not make him see the joke of it all, that my father was determined to protect me from the most noble man I would ever know, and that we were doomed because he respected me as my father would demand. I thought of trying to tell him that my father had softened, that maybe things could work out in a way for everybody. I was afraid to do this, too. Somehow, I sensed that Silas – who did indeed love me – needed to leave me behind. Somehow, I knew that, if I eased the burden of what was forcing him to be honorable, I would see something I did not want to see. I would see a limit to his love.
Today, as I recall all of it, I stop because I want a different ending. Then I accept the truth, strange and unfinished thing that it is. Time does heal, as they say it does, but it never erases possibilities that tease your mind and heart. Do I fool myself into seeing nobility in Silas, when he could have had me if he were willing to alter his life or defy my father? I like to think that he knew a truth beyond my knowledge, that he would never be accepted by my father, no matter the changes either made . I like to think that he suffered in giving me up, and that he did so out of a tragic certainty.
Still, I wonder. Was his caring limitless and knowing, or was it a little selfish? Yet I know it was real for him, even if it was flawed, even as I know that I might have resisted his life and love in time. Yes, I have had time to know this too. I was, after all, raised in a garden. In a sense, I live there still, the Daisy who is always good. She is not unhappy. She goes on with her life, attending properly to everything. She also touches, now and then, a necklace slipped over her head by a bruised warrior.
Time is precious
don’t waste it!