The Accidental Garden
"Uhh... Sorry, the list is full," Jane said nervously. "Can't add any more people. My mom will kill me!"
"Your mom is Shenkuu right now!" Mara retorted angrily. "And you invited everyone in our class, except me. You even invited Roger!"
"Dad said it would be rude if I, uh-"
"I bet your Dad didn't even say anything!" Mara interrupted.
Then the bell rang, signifying the end of lunch.
"Whoops! There's the bell. Gotta go, bye!"
And without a second to lose, Jane was gone. Mara slumped into the bench. Everything was wrong. So wrong. She and Jane didn't even have anything against each other. Before the young yellow Xweetok could continue thinking, she suddenly realized the bench was falling backwards. She leaped off it on to another just as it crashed against the smooth granite floor. But it was not over.
The bench she leaped on tipped forward because of Mara's sudden pounce near the edge. Mara leaped off it just as it crashed against the floor.
Fortunately, Mara leaped on to the ground instead of another bench. She watched silently as the students of Brightvale's elementary school made their way back into their respective classrooms. They walked in groups of friends, chatting about whatever topics from the approach of the semestral break to the latest design trends. Mara sighed.
Truth be told, she had neither enemies nor friends. And she knew the reason why. Mara was nicknamed "The Living Accident" because Mara was very accident-prone. With four left feet, clumsy strides and unawareness of her surroundings, the least amount of accidents she ever had in a day were seven. And she slept in that day.
Great, she thought sarcastically. Now I destroyed two benches. Woohoo.
She trotted back to her classroom, carefully watching her paws, unaware of her tail getting caught between the display of metal ropes, bent and shaped into the King of Brightvale. When she realized it, she carefully tugged her tail, hoping that the structure didn't collapse.
Please, don't fall. Please. Please, she prayed in her mind.
The tail was about to come lose when her hind leg suddenly got caught in it. She stumbled forward, tumbling into the ground. She turned her head just in time to watch the structure tip forward. It wobbled and collapsed on to the ground, its metal ropes clinking and clanging against the granite floor. Its parts skittering across the ground. Mara sighed, her head low. Hopefully, the rest of the day will go undisturbed. She sighed.
Unfortunately, it did go disturbed. Three paws accidently stabbed with pens. Bags tumbling and falling of the floor. Trips, spills, steps and crunches. The blackboard getting deeply scratched. The monitor getting shorted out. And much, much more.
When she finally got home, Mara collapsed on to the plush couch, thought better, then sat on a cheap plastic stool. Why does this keep happening to me? she thought.
"Dinner!" her mother announced from the kitchen. Her mother. A lovely Xweetok with a beautiful brown pelt unlike Mara's plain yellow one. Her mother always looked out for her. Helping her with projects, assignments. Encouraging her. She had been the closest thing to a friend to Mara.
Mara padded carefully to their dining table. A small round wooden one. It was only she and her mother who lived here, so no need for a big one. Dinner was a nice warm pumpkin soup, leftover pizza, and for dessert, a classic vanilla and chocolate-flavored cupcake.
It was yummy, but Mara found it hard to take another helping. She just wanted to sit in her room, staring at the distance, and hope. Hope for change. Her accident-prone-ness was disadvantaging her so much. No one trusted her. She wasn't even invited to a party that everyone else was. Probably they thought she'd burn the place down. Which she might.
Seeing her troubled face, her mother asked her what was wrong.
"The usual. School. Friends."
"You know you can't let this... um... thing- ruin your life."
"It might as well."
"No one's perfect."
"I'm further from perfect than everyone else."
"You know that's not true. Tell me, if you weren't accident-prone, what would happen?"
"My life would be a hundred times better."
"See? That looks only like your only flaw. Come on, let's walk around the garden."
The garden. One place where the world seemed to vanish. All problems seem to disappear in the special place where she and her mother invested all their extra time on. It was a beautiful garden, vegetables and flowers growing under the moonlight. An orchard holding a variety of fruit trees stood proudly behind their rectangular pool. Sprinklers placed in even intervals gently turned. A small pond dotted with colorful fish sat in the center of a wide, blank lawn. Statues of Neopets of all variety; famous heroes, warriors and faeries, dotted the garden. So much hard work resulted into the work of art. Even more resulted into its non-destruction by Mara's clumsy paws.
They said nothing, walking silently around the garden, taking in its beauty. They walked around for hours, watching the variety of ferns, shrubs, flowers, trees, stems and trunks sway lightly on the light breeze. Finally, drowsiness began to set in. Mara went to her room, and settled into a dreamless sleep.
Mara's jaw dropped. What luck! Finally, a chance to prove herself!
The yellow Xweetok gazed wistfully at the contest poster, already picturing the trophy in her mother's special glass cabinet.
It was a simple yellow poster with details on the upcoming Brightvale Garden Competition. Mara couldn't believe it! She may be clumsy, but she was sure that her and her mother's garden, was the best in Brightvale.
"It's impossible we won't win," she said quietly. She signed her name on the registration board and skipped happily home, the memories of whatever disasters that had or might happen long behind her.
"Don't worry, sweetie. Mommy will just be out to fetch the gifts. You can do it," Mara's mother said encouragingly.
She bent down to touch Mara's nose with hers. "Goodbye!" Mara said.
And with that, Mother exited the house, leaving Mara alone.
Don't worry, she said to herself. You can do it. The judges will be here soon and just let the garden do the talking. It's beautiful, right?
Earlier this afternoon, Mara and her mother were putting even more final touches on the garden. She was generally excited by the competition, but promised her friend that they would go gift-shopping a few days ago. So now, Mara would have to show the judges the garden herself. She got ready, slipping herself into a simple, elegant brown dress. Whispering to herself, "You can do this," she stepped into the garden.
It was even more beautiful than before, which was really saying something. Stone pillars were added. More plants were bought. Even more sat in black bags next to the door that led to the garden. Mara was to plant them before the judges arrive to retain their beauty.
Mara quickly clamped her jaw on to the paper bag holding all of them. Then, the frenzy began.
Looking straight with the bag below her, Mara didn't see the water hose lying astray on the field. Her paw got caught under it, and she lost her balance, tripping forward. "No!" Mara yowled as the bag flew into the air.
The bag cartwheeled, its contents spilling out and flying in every direction. The paper bag came crashing into a sprinkler. Based on the speed of its descent, Mara guessed there might be one pot still inside it. It hit the button and smashed onto the sprinkler, knocking its top off cleanly. Then, the water exploded.
The water burst like a waterfall crashing into a river, sending sprays of water across the garden powerfully. Mara tried to scurry forward, but the hose tangled between her feet. It suddenly detached, sending another stream of water of water out of the faucet it was connected to.
It sent a powerful blast of water into a statue. It toppled and fell backwards. Mara screamed. It exploded into rocky pieces flying across the garden. The other pots landed into various positions, some jamming between plants, others falling into the pool. Mara scrambled towards the hose faucet, forgetting about the still-exploding sprinkler. She slipped and tumbled into the plants, smashing them.
"No. No. No! This is not happening. This is NOT happening!"
She got to her feet, stumbled again, and pounced to the faucet. She placed her paws on the faucet, her fur and dress soaking wet because of its spray. The water moved and splurted in every direction. She saw a pot lying near by and quickly grabbed it and jammed it into the faucet. The sprinkler! she thought.
She galloped towards it, stumbling and tripping along the way. Her dress got caught with the grape vines, causing one of the legs of the trellis ripping into two, her dress getting torn along with it. She watched in dread as the trellis collapsed against a statue, sending it skittering across the soil. No time to worry about it now.
She stumbled and continued her pace to the sprinkler, her yellow-brown tail flying behind her. Plants were getting destroyed by it and the soil was starting to flood because of it. Unfortunately, she accidentally tumbled against another sprinkler, activating it. The blast sent her falling backwards into another statue. She gasped as it broke into large rough pieces.
She stood up, and pounced on to the sprinkler. It sent her flying on to a pillar, the sprinkler bending it towards a crazy angle. Her face painfully smashed against the pillar and she just made out the cracks against the pillar before she fainted.
"Hello," Mara heard. "Miss, are you ok?"
Mara stirred. She felt like she had been cut off from the entire world. What was happening again? Then, the flood of memories overwhelmed her.
She bolted upright, and came face to face with King Hagan. She gasped. He's the judge of the contest!
Oh no, no no, she thought. I ruined the garden. It must look like a wreckage site! My dress! Oh no! I ruined everything! Mara started whimpering, looking down on her furry wet legs where her torn brown dress clung to it like leaves. Tears gushed out of her eyes. "I blew it. I really blew it. I ruined everything. Again." She could not stop the tears that gushed out of her eyes like waterfalls. The place must look like a nightmare. "How long was I out? Three hours? Four? How much more damage ruined the place?"
"Miss," King Hagan said in a comforting voice. "Are you crying because you won?"
This shocked Mara back to her senses. Did he really just say that? she thought.
Mara shook her head and scrambled up. "Excuse me, sir?"
"You won. For the Garden Competition," he replied. "Your name is Mara, correct?"
The Xweetok nodded.
"Well, I thought you fell asleep because of the hard work you invested into this amazing garden."
Amazing? That's when Mara began to look at her surroundings. She stifled a gasp of disbelief.
This could NOT be the same place. Instead of the bright, beautiful garden that once stood before Mara's "accident", a mysterious, dense, tropical forest stood as their garden. The many pillars and statues made amazing monoliths of rocks, jutting out of the ground like ancient relics. The trees and plants somehow jumbled into a beautiful combination of jungle. The trees hung lowly, blocking sunlight and wind. The pool seemed to disappear; instead a swamp seemed to take its place. Mara guessed the soil must have flooded into it. Plants of exotic variety floated along the dark rivers, streams and miniature waterfalls, which must have formed through the rocks, plants and sprinklers. Beautiful, exotic flowers bloomed under the dense vegetation. Fruits of all variety hung low, looking like they were ready for eating.
Mara was shocked. Very shocked. This "accident" turned out to be the most brilliant display of a garden she had ever seen in her life. Still stunned, she turned her gaze to King Hagan.
"Every single garden I have been to has been beautiful. But boring. All flowers and bright leaves and what not. Yours is different and very unique. It is clear how much effort was placed into this beautiful garden. The positions, the arrangements, everything was placed very intelligently to make this beautiful effect. You must be very intelligent!"
Mara said nothing, shocked and amazed at what she had just heard. It was unbelievable how an accident somehow made something so perfect. That seemed extremely unlikely. Yet now here she was, taking an award for the best garden in all of Brightvale from the King himself.
"Th-th-thanks," she stammered. "I have to say, A LOT really went into this."