By Mary Crowley
I stood gazing at the overgrown greenery, which once constituted a well-maintained colourful garden. Speculating, how somewhere could transform, from being my paradise. A place I referred to, as a little piece of heaven, to the living hell it had become, now desolate and chilling to look at. Depicting a sadness of unfulfilled dreams, and memories lost in the battle which caused its decay.
Stepping down the path, pushing through the dense English laurel hedging, its presence previously perceiving an air of mystery, and providing privacy. Now overgrown, shadowing the formerly picturesque area below. Entering the bottom of the garden, now overrun with rubbish, and broken garden debris. I glance around, the once beautifully designed area of this much loved garden. Having accommodated a water feature, surrounded by pebbles, to enhance the sound of the running water, as it splashed on top of them. Shimmering nuggets strewn among the stones, incorporated to reflect, in the light of the evening sun. Small maple trees had been carefully planted, to add visually to the tranquil ambience. Bamboo rustling in the gentle breeze. Beyond it lay a seating area, a tranquil space to sit and unwind.
Reminiscing bygone days, when I had sat there, admiring the various colours radiating from the carefully selected planting, chosen to maximise beauty, and scent. The honeysuckle winding its way up the trellising, behind the seating area, providing an enchanting backdrop, contrasting the bright pink of the clematis beside it. Closing my eyes, inhaling deeply recollecting its sweet scent, emanating especially in the evenings.
What remains is an overgrown shambles. Plants smothered by weeds, comparable to a poisonous venom. Extricating life from the plants, invading their beauty, leaving behind a dull colourless desolation. I had once loved this garden, my own little piece of heaven, a place to unwind on a summers evening, after a long day in work. What happens when heaven becomes hell, when your tranquil life is disrupted? Thrown into turmoil, pushing you to a point where you never thought you’d reach.
The sad reality is life changes, nothing stays the way we would wish for. The day, I spied a glance at the new neighbours, pulling up outside, gave me a bad feeling. Still I extended my courtesy, by bringing them tea, and biscuits as they were moving in. Stating how hard it would be for them, to find everything straight away. Even at that moment, as I offered the kind gesture, a hostility from them became apparent. He never spoke the whole time, I was there. Just stood staring at me, sending an unnerving shimmer down my spine. She spoke of her desire to party and enjoy her life. Asking me where the nearest club was, as she eyed my causal jeans, and top. A stark comparison to her tight mini skirt, and low cut top revealing a large proportion of her amble bosom. They had five children, of varying ages between age five and seventeen. Making polite excuses, I left swiftly. I could feel his eyes penetrating me, as I walked down their hallway towards the front door. The door of the living room ajar, I noticed the two younger of the children engrossed in a violent looking PlayStation game. My heart beating rapidly, desolate at the scene around me I walked out into the street. A chill crossed my back, my heart sank deeply, a moment when I decided to be polite, but keep my distance. There would be no running in for a morning coffee, and chat with this lot like I had with my previous neighbour, and it saddened me.
Within a couple of weeks, the real trouble began. It started with being woken, in the early hours of the morning, by loud music, and banging one night. This continued for the next three nights. Most days, my husband would go to work, having only managed, to get two or three hours sleep. Over a matter of weeks it began to take its toll, on the whole family. Exasperated one night, unable to hear our television, for the loud music pounding through the walls. We decided to knock on the neighbour’s door, requesting politely, for the music to be turned down. This was to become, the most fatal mistake of our lives.
A chilling breeze whipped through the air, urging me to pull my cardigan tighter around my shoulders. It was time to leave, for the very last time. Relief washes through my every pore, no longer will I endure, the pain and fear. It did not matter now, this place emanating bad memories. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, a time when I will smile, I have escaped, I am happy, I am free to live again.