The cherry blossom garden smelled heavenly and felt warm and springy under her feet. Aizumi took a deep breath and gazed up at the sky where the clouds were floating by.
Tilting her scarlet umbrella back and taking in the full exuberance of the sun, she closed her eyes and smiled. The feeling of the breeze brushing past her hair and tickling her skin reminded her of the joys of the moment.
Yes, she was home here. The young woman could feel it in every fibre of her being that this was where she belonged – this was her place in the world. This was where she would stay until—
Aizumi shook, feeling cold suddenly, as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice water over her head. Her heart pounded in her chest and she whimpered, trying to take deep breaths and calm down but failing to do so.
This was not right.
It did not take long for her to realize what had happened. Her spirit of confidence had been stolen, grabbed from its chain, leaving a shell of Aizumi behind. She felt tears well up in her eyes. With the spirit gone, she was out of balance with the garden.
She felt empty, alone, and frightened.
“Where could it have gone?” She pondered. “What could have taken it?”
Aizumi sobbed and pushed herself up with her hands, standing up on shaking legs again. She staggered through the garden, willing herself to find her way out of this nightmare. Even if she could not find her spirit of confidence, she had to get back her strength somehow – back to the time where it was glorious and warm.
Aizumi stepped in front of a tree that looked identical to the four others behind her. She could see leaves growing out of its branches, covering most parts of the trunk in green. A shadow dancing playfully with the passing sun behind them. Then it hit her–
“Shadow, why have you taken my spirit?” She demanded.
The shadow danced closer until it formed a humanoid shape. Aizumi took a step back, afraid of the being before her. “You won’t have me!” She shouted, squaring up with the figure.
“It was not I who wished to take you,” the voice echoed out from the figure, “It was I who saved you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your spirit of confidence left with your shadow,” the figure explained, walking closer to Aizumi. She felt it reach out and touch her chest. “You wanted the light but never the darkness. This was not good for the balance, and thus, the conflict has come out of you for you to find yourself.”
“I-I don’t understand,” she stuttered.
“You have ignored the darkness, never wanting to look at who you truly are – hiding from the essence of your shadow and you ran away from it.” The voice said.
Aizumi nodded, “But how do I find myself?”
“You must accept your shadow for what it is,” the figure explained. “For you to stand strong in your confidence.”
“I must have the spirit with the shadow.” She thought.
She always avoided the darkness, and kept within the light, a blissful existence is all she knew and wanted. And all she thought she needed to know. Her shadow never cast, not like the cherry blossom trees or anything else of the garden.
“The Trees!” She realized and sensed the balance of their being, one part light, and one part darkness. Their essence had truly encapsulated the magical garden.
“I know what I must do.” She accepted.
“We are glad.” The shadow replied, dancing independently of the moving light. It held Aizumi’s hand and merged with her. She felt her spirit of confidence again, and the darkness in harmony with it.
She closed her eyes and breathed in all she could of it.
She formed a familiar smile as she felt a light entering her soul. She finally was becoming one with the garden, too.
This story, Aizumi and the Garden Spirits, serves as a reminder not just about how important our spirits of confidence are, but also how they will always be there for us, even if we cannot accept them at first glance. They come in many forms and help us grow. Let this serve as an inspiration to never give up on yourself or your dreams!
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