I remember the first time that my parents let me come with them to work. Most kids might have been stuck in a bland office on bring-your-kids-to-work day. Not me. My parents worked out in the sun, surrounded by nature, hunting down ancient artefacts.
My parents had never looked cooler. To my seven-year-old self, their lives were straight out of an action-adventure movie. They were my real-life Indinna Jonesies. We had wandered up the side of a mountain in search of an ancient scroll. It was perfect. They had even packed a picnic.
At the top, where the canopy thinned enough to create a natural lookout, we ate whilst drinking in the surrounding treescape. Melbourne had been a tiny speck in the distance, glistening towers tiny sparkles on a horizon that stretched for infinity.
I had taken over the family business of investigating the paranormal when I turned eighteen. Today, the people in town would know me as an arborist. I had managed to sneak my way into an inner-city grove that was said to house some of the most beautiful ornamental trees in the world, with the promise I would survey the ‘health’ of the trees.
There were rumours in town that the root systems burrowed under the houses, wrapping around drainage pipes and – this was the part that brought me there – pulsed with a sweet song in the dead of night.
The grove had become overgrown with time, making my journey difficult. Under the bushes and leaves, there were hints of dozens of cut down trees. Whilst I saw signs of stump removal near me, it looked like the once-maintained paradise had slowly lost funding over the years.
It did not affect the beauty of the place. The garden had an ethereal presence that pushed me further into the thicket. Eventually, the small underbrush transformed into a grove of fruit trees. The towering skyscrapers above me became obscured by the thick canopy. I had found the heart of the garden.
Glancing at my watch, I knew it would be dark soon. The song would begin.