Life was peaceful in the valley, between two mountains. So peaceful in fact, that not even the wind blew there. This of course led to really hot days and cool nights. Almost like a hot house, so it was perfect for Lily who was a green-thumbed gardener extraordinaire.
Outside her little house, Lily had rows upon rows of flowers, vegetables and fruit trees planted. It took her a full day to water, weed and spray them all, but she loved the sense of accomplishment that came with reaping the rewards of the harvest. She had so many flowers and fresh produce, that a few months prior, she started a little floral business on the side, and sold her fruits and vegetables at the local market.
Her new addition to the garden was a few bee boxes that would help pollinate her garden. And don’t forget the honey! Sweet, golden, sticky honey. Lily licked her lips just at the thought of this delectable treat and her homemade Honey Cake!
Now, Lily hadn’t always lived in the valley, nor had she always gardened. This is the story of how it came to pass.
“Lily darling, you really do need to need to decide on a career. It’s been a year since you left school. I hate to see you being left behind while all your friends move on with life.” Said Rosemary, Lily’s mother.
“I know, Mother. I’m just undecided as to what to do.” She sighed. “I’ll stop by the city college and grab some course material in the morning. Maybe something will inspire me.”
The following morning, Lily made her way to the college, picked up some information brochures as promised, and, being such a beautiful day, started her walk back home.
As she passed the Botanical Gardens entrance, she decided on a spur-of-the-moment whim, to go in. A group of school children had just arrived for a tour and Botany lesson, so she tagged along at the back like some of the Moms, hoping no one would notice and ask her to leave.
She’s always loved being in the garden and tending to the few flowers and herbs her mother had growing there. From a young age, they would plant the seedlings, water, weed and tend the garden. The best part was when her mom asked her to run outside and grab a handful of parsley or pick a tomato, for their supper.
That might have been the single most life-defining moment that Lily had. That tour through the gardens brought her to the realisation that this was something she was very interested in. Splicing different plants together to create a new breed. Studying the healing components, if any, of various plants. Like the Aloe. The possibilities were endless.
She looked down at the brochures in her hand. None of them had any information on Botany as a career. She’d always been great at biology and research while at school. She had the skills.
Lily’s first day at Britechester University arrived. It was also the day after her mother had received her cancer diagnosis.
Suddenly, going off to school wasn’t a great idea, but Rosemary insisted that she go so that she could at least be in peace knowing Lily could look after herself.
Being on campus, meeting new people and only going home between semesters, made Lily feel very guilty. Getting regular updates from her mother’s doctors also helped. Being a fact and science-orientated person, knowledge gave her peace of mind.
Living in the city was harming her mother more, with the smog and car fumes. The next time she was home she planned to have a serious discussion about moving.
The semesters passed quickly in a blur of classes, study groups and late nights, either at the library or the town pub. Before long, Lily was on her way home, feeling really proud of her A’s! She couldn’t wait to tell her mom!
“Mom, I’m home!” she said, walking in the door and plopping her bags down at the entrance.
The house smelled like freshly baked bread. Her favorite and mom’s speciality. She could taste it already!
As she rounded the corner to the kitchen, her mom was coming towards her and they collided in happy hugs and laughter. Happy to be spending the next 4 weeks together.
After a much-needed catchup about University, and amidst mouthfuls of warm buttered bread and hot tea, Lily finally sat back and looked at her mom. Really looked at her. She was thinner. And pale.
“Mom? Are you feeling alright? You don’t look well?” Lily asked with concern.
“I’m fine, sweetheart. Just tired. They said this would happen. I just need to rest a lot more these days.” Rosemary replied.
“I think we need to consider moving to the country, Mom. I found the perfect place! There’s a small house in a valley that my friend told me is on the market. Her Dad is a realtor. It’s inexpensive for what and where it is, mostly because it’s a little isolated, and it has a huge plot of land which no-one wants to be bothered to look after, but I think will be perfect for me to put my degree in Botany to use and grow our own fruits and vegetables!” Her words tumbled from her lips, not giving her mom a chance to protest.
“I told her we’d meet her and her Dad there tomorrow.” Lily looked at her Mom with a big smile as she said that, knowing her Mom would feel obligated to go now.
“Lily….” Rosemary paused. “What about school? And what will you do for work? I can’t be out there alone. Not with my health deteriorating.”
Lilly hugged her mom tight, “Don’t worry, Mommy. I have it all worked out.”
This is where you can take control of the story. Is Lily alone in the valley? Where is Rosemary?
This is part one of the new format for the Simlit Short Story Challenge, keep reading to hear what the challenge will be for these characters in the coming challenges.