Near my house, there is a large botanical garden. It doesn’t display flowers and trees in a showy way like other parks where some Instagrammers go. Plants are just there in the forest as they are in nature. The vast, calm beauty of nature, the pleasant sound made by nature and creatures, and the clean smell of the air and the sun always invite me to come to this place. Every time I take a breath, I taste the brisk air in my mouth and feel refreshed in my lungs though it can never have a taste or flavor. Each time I throw myself into this place, my brain gets clearer. All the thoughts, frustrations, and negative emotions are withdrawn from my head, and it gets prepared to receive all the gentle stimulation from nature to the most minor level.

My favorite place in this garden is what I call a “fairy forest.” It’s a grove covered with trees and grass, but not dark. The trees are so tall that I hardly see the top, have bright brown bark as if painted with an ocher-color crayon, and are shining by reflecting warm sunshine. The leaves with bright-green colors lift down to my height and make a mosaic pattern of shade on the ground. At the bottom, straight and strong grass is gathering, and the contrast between the grass’s dark green and the light green leaves is so fresh that I almost close my eyes to avoid strong stimulation.

One day, I was walking through the fairy forest, as usual, to escape from my busy reality. What was different was after hearing a tiny bell, I smelled an artificial sanitizer, which was definitely not suitable for the atmosphere. Looking around to find the source of the smell, I saw a girl standing on a road made of trees. At first, I thought, “I finally met a fairy in this fairy forest!” but she didn’t have elf-like sharp ears or wings, and she wasn’t tiny or transparent, either. Rather, she looked like just a normal teenage girl. She wore a vivid blue skirt that appeared to be brought from the deep ocean lighted by sunshine and a sheep-like jacket with the color of the tree’s bark. I couldn’t see her face clearly because of the casket and the mask she put on. On the bag she hung from her shoulder was the tiny bell, and as she moved, its gentle sound stroked my ears.

She didn’t seem to notice me. She crouched on the ground beside cosmos flowers that withered and almost touched the soil. That made me think that they hadn’t received a blessing shower from the sky recently. As she touched the flowers, warm light like sunshine gave off from her hands, and then the dying flowers at once became lively and recovered their beautiful vivid pink. Watching the scene, my eyes opened wide, which had been almost closed on the way to waking up completely.

“Did you just revive those flowers!?” The words came out of my mouth before I could stop. She picked her body up, and her big round eyes became bigger. They were the only part I saw on her face, but I could tell that she welcomed me as her eyes beamed softly.

“I didn’t expect any person would speak to me.”

To respond to her words, my brain tried to come up with several options; should I just say hi to her or introduce myself first? Or can I just ask her questions I have about who she is and what she just did? Yet, finally, no words came from my shy lips. Noticing it or not, she beckoned me by her hand and said,

“Come here. You’re interested in what I did, right? I will show you.”

As she said this, I took five steps with my stiff legs and crouched next to her cautiously. I smelled sanitizer more powerfully this time. Looking down, a dragonfly had one of its wings torn on the green grass under the tree. She held her hands on that dragonfly, then warm yellow light appeared again around her hands, and finally, it started flying into the blue sky. 

“Is it magic?” I asked.

She shrugged shoulders, “I’m afraid it’s not.”

Then she told me about the hidden system of this garden.

“This is how nature here charges its energy. Instead of working alone, all the plants and creatures in this garden help each other. When one is sick, others share a little of their energy with it, and vice versa. This garden is held up by the cooperation of everything around us. I just help that sharing process with my hands.”

For sure, it seemed to me that all the trees and grass around us were chuckling to see the dragonfly in the sky that had just regained its vitality.

While I was absorbed in trying to sense the invisible exchange of power between nature, I realized that the girl was sticking her eyes on me. She came closer and grasped my hands in front of her breast. I almost stepped backward at her sudden action. She was just as tall as my younger sister in high school, and her wrists, seen from the sleeves, were as thin as a carrot and as pale as a ghost’s. I also noticed that she wore like a hospital pajama under her jacket. Then the warm light flashed.

“What? I’m not injured or sick.”

“You are. You don’t realize it. Don’t hurt yourself. Don’t bear too much. If your heart is tired, ask others for help. Instead, when someone around you is in trouble, give them your hand. That’s how our world could work as well as this garden. That is how our world should work… Please take good care of yourself… since I failed to do it before collapsing.”

Contrary to the freshness of the fairy forest, her words were heavy and hit my heart like lead. Her beamed eyes and face behind the mask looked painful this time. Shadows veiled her figure as she disappeared into the depth of the woods. The sound of the tiny bell and the smell of sanitizer remained with me.

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