The Royal Garden

My submission for the May 2011 meeting. The homework was to describe a walk somewhere to an imaginary friend.

Passing through the glittering marble white gates beneath hanging ivy whose veins shine with light into the gardens where the tortoiseshell pathway ends and the soft mossy grasses begin. I find myself met with the impossible site of the palace sitting high above the gardens on a platform that appears to be an enormous gilled fungus. The palace gardens are lit by the bioluminescent fauna that cast such an eerie glow upon the land that I am unsure as whether I should stand in wonder or run in fear. There are a myriad of toadstools and mushrooms of such varying size and colour that I do not know where to look. A cluster to my left is as tall as my knees and appears to be raining golden dust from under it cups. There are insects, fat butterflies with tiny horns fluttering around tall stemmed flowers whose bell shaped petals pulse like a swimming jellyfish; they too give off a strange turquoise light. The butterflies leave a cascade of stardust in their wake as they dance like porpoising dolphins around the flower heads.

The grass here is ankle deep, course, stiff, standing to attention like minute palace guards of which I have seen none. The air is still, very still, silent as mourners at a graveside. There are pools of water everywhere some as small as washing bowls others are more like ornamental garden ponds. The earth around them is softer than normal and at the water’s edge you can see the sponge-like structure that feels like one of those old orange post office sponges that the cashiers use to moisten their finger tips.

There is a frog, of sorts, peering up at me out of the tepid water. Its huge yellow eyes follow me as I move along as though it is considering me for its lunch. As I look around me I am surprised to see that I leave no imprints upon the grass, the blades are as erect as ever, as though no one has ever trespassed here.

One of the bell shaped flowers has turned itself inside out revealing the most marvellous stamen. Inside it is like an illuminated dandelion clock within which there are hundreds of tiny golden particles all twinkling softly. The petals, I can clearly see now are azure blue, spotted with lilac. One of those fat butterflies is fluttering around it drawn, I dare say, by a sickly aroma of rose and decay. The stamen is erupting, the tiny dandelion seeds spreading out on golden gossamer threads snaring the inquisitive Lepidoptera in their asphyxiating bonds.  A moment later the petals have closed and the flower begins its rhythmic pulse as it consumes its prey.

There is Isabella, the pig-like creature, running over to greet me; I can see the sad longing in her bright blue eyes. It is said that she was once a handmaiden to the Queen and that she was turned into a pig for making improper advances toward a guest. Her purple skin feels soft, almost human, sighing she runs away throwing herself into one of the pools of water scattering the fireflies that were hiding in grass.

Stepping onto a large, low circular mound I am taken up higher and higher toward the ceiling of the cavern. The mound is strangely soft yet firm, tan coloured, rubbery to the touch.  My fingers drag across it with a squeak of rubber on glass. There is a pale white glow around my feet like headlights peering through mist. I can see the huge gills radiating out from the distant stem around which are dotted windows connected by staircases cut into the thick fleshy trunk. The platform slows as I near the top.

Stepping out onto the deep violet scales that cover the cap I am greeted by a solitary guard. The guard’s black uniform is made from leather straps that a wrapped tightly all over his lean muscular body. He watches me through his white pupil less eyes that shine like the full moon at midnight. Ahead the Royal Palace beckons…


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