The Boy and the Garden
Once upon a time there was a garden. It was filled with buds and near-blooms and branches laden with leaves about to burst. A thick ancient wall encircled the garden, one that had no door. And so it had remained, wild and empty, for century upon century. So it was that one day a little boy, born under the boughs of a hemlock tree in the middle of winter where he was all that survived the night, found the stone wall before him. Forced to wander for bread, he had travelled far and wide. And when he came upon the ancient barrier, he circled round only to find he had come completely around without sight of door, nor crease, nor crack—nothing to tell him what it was that lay inside. Such was his intent study of the wall that the sound of a cough caused him to jump and swing about in a sudden, startled motion. His gaze fell upon a woman bent under the weight of years, her withered, spotted arm upon a staff, her eyes a sharp, twinkling blue.