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“The Legend of Sia” – Chapter 6 – “The Garden of Collaboration”

September 6, 2010

We’d intended to get our final chapter out on the blog on Friday, but the small thing of planning for WestFest got in the way! Now all six chapters are online, read and enjoy the wonderful tale of our beautiful West Didsbury community, as seen by Rowena Forbes…

Sia - The Spirit of Independence & Adventure

Sia - The Spirit of Independence & Adventure

Sia was walking once more. But, unlike in the City of Bureaucracy, she didn’t have the strength or the inclination to go far.

At the end of the street, she looked round. The Demon of Solitude was lumbering behind her at a distance. Screwing up her eyes, Sia could also make out a tiny red dot floating next to Solitude. Pride. Clearly, the Twin Demons hadn’t finished with her yet.

“Time out!” she whispered to herself, tiredly. “Where can I go to escape all this?”

She turned the corner.

And there, barely 50 yards from her home, was a little café with a sign outside that read:

Thyme Out.

Without questioning its fortuitous location – for she was getting used to serendipity by now – Sia limped to the café door and practically fell inside.

“You’re up bright and early,” commented the waitress. “If you don’t mind me saying, though, you look a little under the weather. Would you like a refreshing cup of Green Tea?”

“Er… Yes please,” said Sia, with no notion of what Green Tea was. She glanced back at the door nervously, wondering if the Twin Demons had seen her come in.

“It’s a lovely morning,” said the waitress, following her gaze. “How about taking your tea in our garden? It’s really quite pretty. Plus, you’re our first customer, so it’ll be nice and quiet.”

“That sounds perfect,” said Sia, gratefully.

She followed the waitress to the rear of the café and through the back door. As she stepped outside, Sia looked up and saw a scarlet trellis draped over the arched entrance to the garden. The vines had been carefully trained to form words, which proclaimed proudly:

The Garden of Collaboration.

Collapsing onto the nearest wooden bench with relief, Sia sighed deeply. The waitress popped a mug of steaming tea in front of her.

“Now, you stay there as long as you like,” she said, kindly. “You won’t be disturbed. Well, except perhaps by the chickens.”

“The chickens?” queried Sia. But the waitress had gone.

Sia picked up the hot mug and lifted it towards her lips – and then stopped, leaving the cup hanging in mid-air as her eyes focused for the first time on her surroundings. She caught her breath in awe.

For the garden wasn’t merely ‘pretty’. It was, quite simply, the most magical, wondrous place that Sia had ever seen.

A kaleidoscopic profusion of colour filled her vision. Flowers and plants of all descriptions comfortably embraced, nodding happily in the breeze; their fragrant aromas mingled to form a warm, multilayered scent that would stir envy in the heart of France’s most talented parfumeur.

Various forms of bountiful produce waved merrily to each other, from the juicy stalks of giant green and purple Rhubarb rooted in the earth, to voluptuous Silver Apples swaying heavily in the sky.

And, as she drank in her surroundings along with her tea, Sia noticed other, more unexpected items inhabiting the undergrowth.

Sparkling cobalt-blue bangles and sultry amber rings sprang from the blossoms of an emerald bush, whose tiny gold-edged leaves chimed like tiny bells in the breeze.

Baby shoes embroidered with dinosaurs danced at the base of a tree whose branches were draped with long, floating wedding veils, which shimmered in the crisp rays of the morning sun.

Patchwork ducks in designer sunglasses lounged on red leather sofas next to a sparkling fountain, whose curvaceous water droplets changed colour every few seconds, like solar-powered disco lights.

So far, so very beautiful. But there was an even more magical aspect to this garden.

For, as Sia rose to her feet, tiredness forgotten in her desire to explore, she became aware of soothing murmurings, which filled the garden with gentle, harmonious music. Cupping her ears to discover the source, Sia realised what was happening.

The flowers were talking to one another.

As they conversed, tiny luminous sparks crackled between the petals, electrifying the air. Sia bent towards them, feeling contagious pinpricks of excitement tickling the back of her neck in response. She watched in fascination as a few tiny seeds dropped from an amethyst bloom onto the ground below where, Sia noticed, new seedlings were already beginning to sprout.

“They’re collaborating,” squawked a voice at her feet.

Sia looked down. Three white china chickens were pecking the ground next to her purple pumps. Each had a name painted in swirling silver letters on its chest:


“What’s collaborating?” asked Sia in curiosity.

David stopped pecking and looked up, eyeing her beadily.

“You know. Talking. Sharing. Helping,” he cackled. “Conceiving and creating.”

“Everything here comes from people with Unique Talents,” cooed Gavin. “They bring them to this garden to put down roots in a nurturing, supportive environment, where fruitful discussion sprouts creative ideas that help everyone to grow.”

“Plus, it’s a great place to showcase your work,” clucked Cachumba. “Having lots of Unique Talents all in one place attracts a lot more visitors than one Unique Talent would do. That’s just good business sense.”

Sia imagined the jade tears of joy that her crystal puppies would shed if allowed to scamper freely in this garden.

“Could I… bring my Unique Talent here?” she asked, shyly.

“Of course!” crowed Gavin. “There’s room for everyone here. We’re very sociable.”

Sia beamed, then frowned slightly as she glanced back to the garden’s entrance, where a now-shrunken Demon of Solitude hovered dolefully next to Pride. “What about them?”

“Oh, you’ll still need them from time to time,” croaked David. “Just avoid over-feeding them from now on. Everything in moderation.”

Sia closed her eyes in relief, letting the sun’s rays warm her smiling face.

“It’s perfect here,” she whispered.

Cachumba scowled and pecked Sia’s shoe, making her squeal and open her eyes.

“Don’t go making that mistake,” she squawked. “Nothing’s ever perfect. We have the Storms of Recession to contend with. And of course the Evil Weeds of Rent Rises raise their heads from time to time, threatening to strangle some of our prize plants.”

“The truth is that Life can’t promise you a happy-ever-after ending,” cooed Gavin. “But over the years we’ve found that…”

“You’ve found that you’re stronger together, as united independents cooperating with each other, than you are apart,” said Sia, slowly.

The chickens crowed in unison.

“By George, I think she’s got it,” squawked Cachumba in glee.

“Who’s George?” clucked David. Cachumba pecked him in disgust.

And, as the first few members of the village’s Folk entered the garden, ready for their morning Eggs Benedict, greeting the newcomer in their midst with surprise and delight, Sia finally understood the truth behind the starry skies that she had grown to love so much.

For each star, when closely observed, has its own unique qualities, which lend it a clearly identifiable personality as it shines brightly and proudly throughout its lifetime.

But a star also has its own place amongst a constellation of stars. And a constellation, when viewed on a crisp, clear night, has more meaning, brilliance and beauty than a single star can achieve on its own: enough to make the world gasp, wonder and dream as it gazes in awe from below.

The end.

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