To Live, to Perish, and to Grow Again
The Neogarden has begun to grow again, though I don't know
how. It doesn't seem to have changed anything - it might as well still be dead,
since no one stops to look at it. Everyone seemed to have forgotten how beautiful
the Neogarden had once been, except for me, and even now that it was returning
to what it once was, no one noticed. No matter what happened, I could never forget,
even after what happened in the end.
I always went past that particular Neohome on
my way to school, just to see the Neogarden and the Ixi who lived there. Anyone
who went past couldn't help but stop to look at it and admire her handiwork.
There was always someone watching the Ixi as she tended her Neogarden, but she
hardly ever looked up, except when I was there.
I don't think anyone noticed that the Ixi only
looked up for a young Shoyru. They were probably too busy gaping at the beauty
of the Neogarden. Even the Glass Roses looked like real ones when she touched
them, as if her presence could make them come alive. Her Neogarden was the most
spectacular in all of Neopia. As the days passed, the Neogarden and the Ixi
became reliable; I knew they would always be there. Sometimes the Ixi went inside
the Neohome, of course, but that wasn't often. Rain or shine, she was usually
out there, tending her masterpiece.
Most of the Neogarden was made up of flowers,
but there were lots of trees, thin ones with light green leaves, apart from
the enormous one that took up a quarter of the Neogarden. I noticed there was
a vegetable patch near the house, with so many different varieties it might
have taken a long time to count them all. The flowers were the most impressive,
however. So many different colours, so many different kinds, and they were grouped
together in such a way that the effect was captivating.
We had a connection, the Ixi and I. I don't think
a word was ever exchanged between us, but a picture can say a thousand words,
and the looks we gave each other were worth far more than that. I tried it out
on my friends and family, but it wasn't the same - I could never tell what it
was they were thinking just by looking at their faces.
She gave me something to eat from time to time,
usually freshly cooked bread or cake, better than anything you could buy in
the Bakery. I never said 'Thankyou' and if I had she wouldn't have said 'You're
welcome'. Because a Neogarden doesn't talk, even if potatoes have eyes and corn
has ears, no plant has a mouth, and it never felt right to disturb the stillness.
It went on for years, the routine. I was there
twice a day, every day - morning and evening. Gradually, she knew when to expect
me. Once I was too ill to walk past her Neohome and the next day when I went
back, she was sitting there with a worried look on her face. Clearly, the Ixi
had been unnerved by the break in routine. I liked knowing that she and her
Neogarden would always be there, no matter what, until something happened one
day that changed everything.
I think she received terrible news, news so terrible
that she almost forgot about her Neogarden. To this day I've never found out.
One day I walked past, just like I always had, and there she was, sitting amongst
what was left of her Neogarden. She had obviously torn it apart, pulled out
all the flowers and chopped the trees to bits and ripped out the vegetable garden.
In the midst of the ruins sat the Ixi.
She ignored it for days. I never saw her go into
the house, not once. I thought she might even have died, because she would sit
for hours without moving at all. But every so often she would get up and move
into a different spot, one that had not yet been overrun by weeds.
Then the gates went up - big, tall black gates
that were menacing and ominous. The only way to see the Ixi and her neglected
Neogarden was to march right up and stick your eyes between the spikes. Fewer
and fewer people visited the Neogarden, until I was the only one who ever stopped
to watch her. But even she no longer recognised me, as if it had been the Neogarden
that gave us the connection. Sometimes I wondered if it could be possible -
a connection through a Neogarden. On that day when I came back from my illness,
when I walked past her Neogarden, I noticed that it looked slightly lifeless,
as if... my disappearance had caused it to stop growing for a moment. It never
happened again, as long as I returned every day.
The Ixi never went into the house after she had
smashed her Neogarden and put up the gates. Those big, black, imposing fences
looked horribly out of place. They belonged somewhere that kept people out,
and that Neohome, and that Neogarden, drew everyone from everywhere to it. Even
though the Neogarden was destroyed, I could still sense life in it, waiting
to grow again. It only takes one seed to create something a million times as
big... and I was sure there were still roots trapped underneath the ground.
I longed to rush in there and start trying to revive it, even though deep down
I knew that the Ixi alone could control it.
She didn't take care of herself, either. In the
days when the Neogarden was at its full glory, her hair had been glossy and
healthy, and she had always looked happy and strong. Now, behind the gates,
I could see the Ixi getting thinner and thinner, dirtier and dirtier. The only
thing with a splash of colour in the whole place was the red ribbon she wore
around her neck. I worried about her, thinking she must surely have gone mad.
She drank water from the hose, and ate what was left of her vegetable patch,
until one day she disappeared completely.
I looked everywhere in the Neogarden for her,
but I could not catch even the tiniest glimpse of the Ixi. There was nowhere
to hide in that Neogarden, and even if she did manage to conceal herself, I
could always find her somewhere in her beloved home. Then I noticed something
very odd. The entire Neogarden was almost dead, apart from one tall, thin tree.
I couldn't recall ever seeing it before, as it was different to every single
tree in the Neogarden. Then I caught a glimpse of something bright - a red ribbon
fluttering on the branches.
I don't know where she went. No one has ever
seen the Ixi since. Some say she moved. Some say she's become a hermit, living
in the Neohome. Only neither of those theories makes any sense at all, because
I know that whatever might have happened, she would never leave her Neogarden.
It started to grow again after she left, with the same splendor as before, so
she must still be in there somewhere, utterly absorbed in the beauty of her