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Bottom of the Garden

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When I was young, I lived in a large house out in the countryside with an impressive garden dating back many years. This garden was like a maze, especially to the inquisitive mind of a youngster. I'd spend many hours exploring the garden before being called in by my parents when it got too late.

I wasn't exactly the most sociable of children, and as such, I didn't make many friends. Even so, my parents were determined to keep me in public school so as not to isolate me from others.

I hated school. The other children seldom had much to do with me, and many of the staff either ignored me or found some trait of my personality to object to. Thus, when I returned home I often went to the garden to explore, and in the weekends or holidays, I would spend even more time there.

One day whilst exploring the garden, I came to the edge overlooking a nearby forest. I had never went this far down the garden before, usually only exploring the parts near the house.

To my surprise I found a small statue of a little girl holding a butterfly in her hands, standing alone at the bottom of the garden. Even though the sun was shining brightly and birds chirped in the trees, I felt somewhat disturbed by the statue and could actually feel my heart beating faster.

As you can imagine, I didn't stay long. I headed right back towards the house. I decided not to stray that far again. Yet what was to follow was a series of events that continue to horrify me long into my adult life. It began that night when I came home and got ready for bed. My parents were downstairs, and I could hear them arguing. This was unusual, as they were normally very good with each other. In fact, it was the first time I remembered hearing them argue and it scared me.

I considered going down to investigate when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. I jumped back as my door swung open to reveal my father, who was extremely drunk. This was startling, as he was strongly against drinking and had banned alcohol from the house for as long as I could remember.

Yet here he was, drunk and angry, staggering into my room and muttering something under his breath as he went into a cupboard and took out a few boxes. I tried to speak to him, but he ignored me and staggered back out of the room with boxes in tow.

At this point I was afraid and followed my father, my mother having arrived up the stairs. She yelled at my father as he spat back at her in a drunken manner. I watched as he threw the boxes on his bed and began taking clothing and items.

I asked my mother what was going on but she too ignored me as she continued yelling at my father, who clumsily finished packing the boxes before storming down the stairs. That was the last time I ever saw my father, and to this day I still don't know what happened. My mother refused to talk about it. In fact, following that night she barely said a word to me, and before long I found myself moving in with my aunt in the suburbs.

Eventually I spoke to my aunt about the statue in the garden of my parent's home, and she seemed a little disturbed. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me a story about the house that neither of my parents had ever talked about:

Around a hundred years ago, the house was inhabited by a wealthy man and his wife, who had a young daughter who often explored the garden day and night. One day the girl strayed too far from the house and wandered into the nearby forest where she became lost.

A search was conducted, but sadly by the time the girl was found she had already died, curled up by a tree in an effort to stay warm. Following the girl's death, her mother and father would argue continually, blaming each other for what happened.

The girl's father turned to drink and her mother became reclusive. Shortly after building a statue in memory of his daughter, the father committed suicide and was buried (as was his request) in the garden.

The girl's mother would continue to live on for several years before succumbing to old age but remained a recluse until her final days.

After hearing the story, I felt a little chill down my spine, but my aunt was quick to dismiss it as the past and assured me what happened then had nothing to do with my parents. Looking back as an adult, I suppose I should believe my aunt, yet there is still a part of me that looks back to that story and wonders if there wasn't something else at work.

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