Class Assignment: Abernethy Garden

As Sam stood in the doorway, hints of lavender and mint wafted past his nose. Springtime in Scotland was, in his opinion, the best time of year. For the past eight years, every morning, Sam woke up at exactly 5:42 to ensure that he would have time before his day started to do what he loved best: sit in his garden and sip his Earl Grey tea. Not long ago, Sam and his wife, Martha, put the final touches on the garden of their dreams. Within a circle of knobby trees grew a lush tangle of ivy and wisteria, bordered by baby-pink rose bushes and a rainbow of towering lupine. On a damp morning like this, the rich scent of the life-sized bouquet was almost overwhelming, and nothing satisfied Sam more. His most treasured piece in the garden was the stone wall that Martha built just weeks before she died. Her fingerprints were still visible in the mortar; muddy proof that she really had lived and loved him. He wanted nothing more than to spend his time here.

Sam gazed past the willow toward the pond where a lone doe savored her cool, morning drink. “Briiiing-briiiiing!”  The rhapsodic noise wailed from the kitchen, piercing the tranquility like a jagged knife. He startled, spilling his tea. Muttering frustrations, Sam shuffled down the cobblestone walkway, back to his cottage. 

“Good morning, yes, is this Sam Abernethy?” said a concerned voice. 


“Yes, good morning. Doctor Nelson here, calling from University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am calling to regretfully inform you that I’ve spoken with Dr. Greene from Royal Edinburgh Hospital and he has reported to me your condition. The growth that was found on your lung is filled with a lethal fluid and at its current growth rate, we estimate that it will burst before this time tomorrow.” 

Taking in this barrage of information, Sam felt faint. He grabbed onto the counter while the voice rattled off instructions. 

“I recommend that you pack a bag, catch the next plane to the US and expect not to return home for the next six months, maybe more. The treatment for your condition can only be performed by our specialist here in Salt Lake City.” 

Sam hung up and replayed the options in his head. He knew, without a second thought that he would not be leaving his Scottish home. 

He lurched to his closet and dressed in his finest suit. He packed a blanket out to the garden. There, on a bed of clover next to the urn that held his wife’s ashes, he made a pallet where he lay for the rest of the day and into the night. Sam knew he would rather die next to the one he loved than to live alone in a place where he would never be able to sit in his garden with Martha again.

One thought on “Class Assignment: Abernethy Garden

  1. I loved this visual …. “Her fingerprints were still visible in the mortar” … I felt the garden air in your words … There was comfort in his choice, soon to be with Martha again, in the garden of their life. ❤


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