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SNEAK PREVIEW! For Finn, the garden was a place to hide...

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

For Finn, the garden was a place to hide, a refuge, the towering sunflowers forming a wall around his broken heart.

They stood in a chamber of yellow light. Penny gasped as her head turned upwards towards the cathedral ceiling of interlaced sunflowers, their stems fifteen meters high, each blossom more than a meter across.

“Finn!” she exclaimed. “How did you ever...” She reached out and touched one of the sunflower stems. She could not reach both her hands around it.

Delight beamed through Finn’s face. “There’s more,” he whispered. “You go ahead.” He gestured down the path. “I’ll be right behind you.”

The path veered to the right, and the sunflowers over head shifted color through burgundy and russet. As the path looped back towards the left, the sunflowers gave way to a checkerboard of beanstalks growing around tall, twisting towers. Honey bees hummed and flew heavily between cascades of white and peach blossoms. The air shuffled between red and green leafy walls, pierced by dappled patches of evening sky.

Finn stepped up next to her as the path opened up and the beanstalk towers fell away into a circular opening. Before them grew the pumpkin patch; leaves as big as umbrellas flopping over glowing orange pumpkins the size of a Fiat 500. Goldfinches dove over the pumpkin vines from the nearby tops of bean trellises, feasting on the insects that turned in small clouds, clicking their wings.

“Cinderella’s fairy godmother orders a few up from me every year for turning into coaches and such,” he joked.

The path dipped downward towards the stream. An arching stone bridge crossed the water amidst a copse ferns beneath an overstory of fuchsias, thick with bumblebees. Penny stopped midway over the stream, resting her hands on the stone walls of the bridge.

Hand in hand, they walked silently through daisies the size of dinner plates, a wet meadow thick with rainbows of irises.

“Take a deep breath,” Finn said. “We’re coming up on the moon garden. And just at the perfect time.”

The air became lighter, cooler, roofed now with the sky, a dusky purple heading into darkness. Scent filled the night like ripples spreading in a pond: rose, jasmine, honeysuckle, lily of the valley. Finn felt the pull on his hand as Penny stopped walking, leaned her head back, closed her eyes and breathed deeply.

Penny lowered her head to the blanket. Fireflies circled around her flame-red curls.

“The sky,” she whispered. “Listen.” Finn looked up. Fireflies blended with stars, swirling across the velvet sky. Far off, the Northern Channel lapped at the singing sands of Whitepark Bay.

The stars seemed to be getting closer. Penny flung her arms over her head, trying to touch them. She felt her shoulder blades stretch, crackling.

“Wings,” she whispered. “Oh Finn.”

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