The Gardener Part 3: The Final Obstacle

4 September 2015 Pojok Cerita   |    Vania Cheryl Antono

Freya sat slouching on the yellow plastic chair with her hands propped up against the strong wooden table to support her sleepy head. She had been studying and reading gardening books to pass the last round of the competition which is a test.

To be more precise, a real test made out of several sheets of question-filled paper clipped together by a stapler. ‘The horror...’ Freya thought before shuddering.

The only reason why Freya hated this round is because she had to pass the final round using a test. Freya had never been good at tests so this round really made her jittery and have butterflies in her stomach.

Just thinking about it made Freya shudder even more. But she had to stand strong as she vowed to herself that she will do her best and push her limit to win this last round.

After all, the Fleur gardeners hadn’t stop bragging that tests like these were their specialty and they will surely win this round. Freya wanted to prove them wrong so she focused on her book again.

Freya flipped the pages of the big brown book that she was reading and focused her eyes on the descriptions and uses of various plants. It would be easy for her mom and her aunt to take the test because they already have experience and knowledge in them, but as for Freya, she still had lots to learn.

The announcement of the final round of the competition was yesterday and Freya was astonished. That announcement meant that Freya had to force herself to study for a long, long time. The final round was next week so Freya really had to study well. After a loud yawn, Freya rubbed her eyes again and decided to go to bed in her guest room.

The next day, Freya was awoken by the ringing of the bell. Freya slowly opened her eyes, got out of bed and prepared to go to the dining table to have breakfast.

When Freya arrived at the dining table, Freya’s eyes widened to that of an owl’s and gasped. The Fleur and Gardiniere gardeners were there as usual but not only were they eating, they were also studying.

Mrs. Gardiniere and Aunt May was busy writing down notes to remember while Ms. Madeline Fleur was scrolling down some gardening articles from her phone.

Ms. Janet Fleur, Rachel’s and Lylia’s mother was eating her toasted bread with butter peacefully, and there were no notes or books to be seen near her.

"Since when is everyone doing this kind of studying?" Freya asked Clarissa who just passed by her.

Clarissa stopped and leaned towards Freya, whispering, "I have no idea. I just arrived and everything was already like this."

Freya watched Clarissa walk away before taking a few pieces of garlic bread and pancakes on her plate and deciding to go eat upstairs in her room.

Freya’s mother had once taught her that if she was given two tasks, she should do them one at a time and not both of them at the same time. It is because Freya won’t be able to contribute the best of her abilities in each task if it was done at the same time.

As Freya savoured the last crumbs of garlicky goodness off her fingers, Freya placed the plate away and started studying again. She had 15 thick books to read and she had just read 2 books so she needed to read 13 more thick books. Freya sighed and went back studying, like everyone else was doing.

The days went quick and fast until the day of the final round had come. Freya tied her hair into a neat bun to avoid getting distractions during the tests.

Since the final round was in chronological order in which the letter ‘F’ comes before ‘G’, the Fleur gardeners went first, one by one while the Gardiniere gardeners were told to wait in the waiting room.

Before Ms. Janet Fleur entered the test room, she smirked and sighed, "Too bad you won’t be winning this round."

Three hours passed and Aunt May entered the test room first, later on followed by Mrs. Susan Gardiniere, Freya’s mother. After 1 more hour, Freya’s name was called and Freya stood up from the chair she had sat on in the waiting room and headed towards the test room.

Before going, Freya looked back one more time to see Petra giving her an encouraging smile and Rosella showing a toothy grin and thumbs up. Freya smiled weakly and entered the test room.

The test room was very bright and had an invigilator waiting at the edge of the room. The wallpaper of the test room was yellow with white stripes and big fuschia dots here and there. The tiles of the test room made a clanking sound every time the heels in Freya’s boots touched the floor.

In the middle of the room, stood a rectangular table filled with pictures of plants with a number on each picture. A sheet of paper filled with numbers arranged in order was printed on the left side of the paper.

"Good afternoon. I am Ms. Aurelia and I will be your invigilator. For test paper 1, you need to identify the name of the plant in each picture. Once you already identified, write on the test paper the name of the plant beside the numbers that it the same as the one in the picture. If you have any more enquiries, do not hesitate to ask. Good luck!" Ms. Aurelia, the invigilator clarified.

"Hi. I’m Freya and thank you for the information." Freya acknowledged and smiled.

Freya took a seat and began the test. Freya took the first picture of the plant and took a quick look at it. The plant had a peach coloured shade with petite stiff flowers that has foliages like a dandelion.

Freya remembered that she had seen this plant in one of the books she’d read and it was called a ‘statice’. Freya immediately wrote down the name.

After a few more plant pictures that Freya managed to identify easily, Freya had finished the test. Smiling, Ms. Aurelia took the test paper 1 and gave Freya a test paper 2 for Freya to answer.

"In test paper 2, there will be multiple-choice questions so you have to answer 1, 2, 3 or 4. If you have any doubts, feel free to ask me. Good luck." Ms. Aurelia informed.

Freya nodded and focused on her test paper. Most of the questions were easy because it’s about the uses of plants which Freya knew very well, such as the use of a cattail plant which is to substitute flour or the use of a mullein plant which is to cure earaches and other remedies.

And again, Freya answered the paper with ease due to her massive studying these past few days. As Freya handed the paper to Ms. Aurelia, Freya let out a peaceful sigh. She had done the test and was hoping to get good marks.

Freya walked out the room and wished good luck to Petra and Rosella before going back to her room because it was against the rules to chat with other gardeners after answering the test to avoid leaking out the questions or answers.

A few days later, the results were announced. Ms. Janet Fleur was already confident that she could get a perfect mark. When Ms. Janet heard her score, however, her confidence faded. Ms. Janet didn’t get a perfect mark, instead, she got a score of 87 over 100 and Mrs. Gardiniere got a better mark than her.

The winner of the overall competition was announced shortly, which was the Gardiniere gardeners. All the Gardiniere gardeners beamed proudly and hugged each other in excitement.

However, Freya stood still to the ground. She knew that the Fleur Gardeners probably deserve losing because of their bragging and boasting these past few days but she felt bad for the Fleur gardeners, nonetheless. But what could she do? Then, an idea struck Freya’s head like a lightning.

Freya walked to Mr. Thom, the governor of the Nature Protection Department and began, "Mr. Thom? Hi, I’m Freya Gardiniere and I want to suggest an idea."

A few minutes after listening intently to Freya’s suggestion, Mr. Thom considered it for a while before taking the microphone and announcing, "Thanks to Freya’s suggestion, I have a fair idea to make the Fleur gardeners and Gardiniere gardeners work for us. For example, this month the Gardiniere gardeners will be working for us and the next month, it will be the Fleur gardeners. This idea will proceed if the Gardiniere gardeners as well as the Fleur gardeners agree. So, does everyone agree?"

The Fleur and Gardiniere gardeners agreed happily and they decided to bury the hatchet and forget their quarrels. And soon, these two families became very close gardener friends.