The Garden of Friendship (Friday Fictioneers, September 2012)

This week’s photo prompt from Madison Wood’s Friday Fictioneers is one that I took a couple of years ago when we were visiting Sydney, Australia.  It’s from the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour.

The gateway hadn’t been there previously, he was sure of it.

But that morning, as the tendrils of mist coiled dreamily across the hillside, it shimmered into view, the archway gleaming in the morning sun.

A sign stood beside the ivy-clad entrance:

‘The pure in heart may enter.’

 He reflected a while.  He’d been a lot of things in his seventy years, wild, proud, conscientious, loyal, cantankerous.  But pure?  He didn’t think so.

The leaves whispered as he turned to descend the steps again, and he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder, drawing him back.

‘We also value honesty.’

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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75 Responses to The Garden of Friendship (Friday Fictioneers, September 2012)

  1. That’s a beautiful thought. 🙂


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  3. boomiebol says:

    I love the ending so much. Very well done, and thanks for sharing this photo


  4. Andrew says:

    Very lovely Sandra. A lesson for us all.


  5. Sandra, I love the photo (thanks for saying where you took it) and I love your story!!


  6. Lovely, tender story. Thank you Sandra for this photo and the explanation.


  7. vbholmes says:

    Very nice message, Sandra–and a well-written piece. Lovely photo of a serene spot and a good prompt. Thanks for identifying it–means so much more when you know where the subject is located.


  8. rgayer55 says:

    Beautiful photo, Sandra. For reason I couldn’t get to upload into my post.

    I really loved the line, “tendrils of mist coiled dreamily across the hillside.” We all value honesty and integrity. Very well written – and thanks for letting us enjoy for photo.


  9. Hi Sandra,
    First of all, thanks for a beautiful, if challenging photo prompt. I had to do some research to get myself in the mood, and found that purification was an important function of these shrines. I’m assuming that the hand on his shoulder were divine, right? Ron


  10. Loved this! So pure. A good soul valued.


  11. Jan Brown says:

    A beautiful story, and a beautiful photo!


  12. I love it. Big smile on my face at the ending. Still feeling as i write it. That’s the way i feel about life. I value honesty so much more than virtuousness. The latter is so difficult to attain. Randy


  13. Carrie says:

    what a considerate archway. Nice job 🙂


  14. How lovely the photo and the story!


  15. rich says:

    that was nice. suggestion – i’m not sure if he would “descend the steps again,” because i don’t think he descended them already. you could probably cut the word “again.”


  16. I love the mysticism of this… but more importantly, the beauty of acceptance that it entails. Not all are this wise.


  17. Beautiful photo, Sandra and a well written story to go with it.


  18. writeondude says:

    Excellent. Really liked it.


  19. unspywriter says:

    Very nice. Mine is of a similar vein but less, ah, gentle. Beautiful photo.


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  21. Jan Morrill says:

    “…as the tendrils of mist coiled dreamily across the hillside…” I LOVE this! The photo is beautiful also!



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  24. elmowrites says:

    Great ending, Sandra, and a lovely picture too.


  25. EmmaMc says:

    You never, ever disappoint Sandra. Great ending… and didn’t realise this was in Darling Harbour! We had a stroll around and missed the gardens but we did go to China Town, which if my memory serves me correctly is nearby.

    Back to the story though, thoroughly enjoyed this and left me feeling happy and optimistic


    • Sandra says:

      Yes, we passed it several times on our walks, and eventually went in. It’s lovely, but in an antiseptic, contrived kind of way. Or maybe that’s just because of the backdrop of skyscrapers and apartment buildings. 😦


  26. John Hardy Bell says:

    Nice, tender story with a great ending. Then again, you are known for great endings!!


  27. kdmccrite2 says:

    Beautifully written!


  28. Anne Orchard says:

    What a lovely story, Sandra, will definitely stay with me. And thanks for the great photo too. Don’t remember seeing that when we were in Sydney – will have to go back and check 🙂


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  30. Oh, I like this a lot. I like the mystery of the unknown presence. Well done! It’s a beautiful photo. Thanks for providing it.


  31. Brian Benoit says:

    Great job with this Sandra (especially that second paragraph, which is about as perfect as paragraphs get). The fact that all we get is “leaves whispering” before he feels the touch on the shoulder is also really intriguing. Great job!


  32. Paul says:

    Boy, you’re on a roll. This and Alchemy are very special. Two great spiritual messages. I can’t decide which I prefer!


  33. Sandra says:

    Thank you Paul. I must have been in a funny mood this week. I struggled through tears to write Alchemy but that’s probably because of my boating background.


  34. Tom Poet says:

    “But that morning, as the tendrils of mist coiled dreamily across the hillside, it shimmered into view, the archway gleaming in the morning sun” Love the image. A fine piece of writing.


  35. dmmacilroy says:

    Oh, Sandra,

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. So close to home and so endearing the way he turned to walk back down the steps. I have walked a mile in his shoes. Lovely, lovely, lovely writing.

    I should have read your story before I asked you where the photo was from. Thanks for that info. now perhaps I’ll be able to decipher the characters that were the genesis for my story.




  36. billgncs says:

    That was great. I felt like I wanted to jump up with happiness at the last line.


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