"Fourheads, it's nice to see you. Why don't you take a seat over there by Sparrowmint near the orchids. We'll be getting started in a moment."
The beast with four heads slithers over next to an overgrown bird, fat with recently caught worms. He's never understood these guys with wings. "Don't they get tired," he thinks to himself. "With all that flitting around, I can't imagine how they can even think!" He keeps one head trained on the bird, and uses the other three to scan the room. Some of them, like the two Whirlms making out in the back row, are familiar faces. But there are a lot of new folks here, including a very hot looking Twingersnap drinking straight from the tap of the watercooler.
"OK, folks, let's take our seats." Leaving two heads trained on the hottie, he takes one last head to look at the meeting coordinator. He's human, and Nessie thinks he might be the son of the crazy guy with the wheelchair who keeps throwing shovels all over the place.
"Now, I know this the first time for several of you. What we like to do is have one of our more seasoned pinatas do a little sharing first, and then we'll go around and introduce ourselves. Mkay?" The room mumbles it's assent.
A mockery of mickey mouse bounces to the front of the room.
"Hi, my names MouseMallow, and I live in a garden."
On cue, the room shouts out a jolly "Hi MouseMallow!"
"It all started so innocently. I was wandering around, just enjoying a light spring rain. Eating the occasional dead moth. But then I smelled it." His eyes go glassy. "Turnips. Oh my goodness, it had just been SO long since I'd had turnips. So I wandered over."
MouseMallow grows quiet, closes his eyes. When they reopen, they're nothing but hot coals of rage. "But of course, by then it was too late. I ate that turnip. I admit it, I ate it and I enjoyed it. And then that bastard. That disembodied shovel, well he just wanders over and POOF. All of the sudden I'm freakin' purple and I can ... never ... LEAVE."
MouseMallow cleans his claws, trying to calm down.
"I, I know it's my own fault. I know that the turnips made me do it. I know that I am powerless over my own life, and that I need a higher power's help. But ... but then I see the ghost again. I'll be sitting over by the Turnip patch, and I'll see that shovel working on the Syrupent house."
All the purple drains from his face, leaving him white.
"And I know it's just a matter of time before he feeds me to one of THEM!" Thrusting his undersized arm out, he points to a small snake-like creature, curled up around the base of the apple tree. The accused raises his head, as if to say "who, me?"
The meeting coordinator walks up behind the frightened rodent, and bends over to pat him gently on the back. "It's OK. I know you've all been there. Haven't you folks?" Reluctantly, they all nod there heads.
"I can tell we're all feeling a little stressed out today. It's probably the unexpected arrival of our new fourheaded friend, Nessie."
Nessie starts at the sound of his name, all four heads turning to face the dry spot between the trees that serves as stage for today's "Garden Twelve Step: acceptance and reconciliation" meeting.
"Uh, Hi..." he says, uncomfortably aware that he's now the center of attention.
"Why don't you come up and tell us your story?"
Nessie slithers to the front. He's feeling less afraid then he did at first -- he's bigger than anyone else in the garden. "Uh.. well. I was just sitting around in this other really nice garden, and this guy shows up and shoves me in a crate. It all kind of went black for a while. Then I felt like I was sliding through some tubes or pipes or something, and then BAM I'm here."
The audience stares.
The Sparrowmint next to him speaks first.
"There are other gardens? Were you trapped there too?"
Nessie nods. Four times. "Yeah, it was pretty much the same. A little more organized, and we had some of the bigger guys, but yeah, same idea."
Up in the tree, the high pitched sound of weeping came through the gentle buzzing of the Buzzlegum swarm. Silence washes over the group.
The coordinator steps in. "Anyone else?" The silence deepens, grows awkward. "Well. I guess we'll make this a short meeting. Let's all say the serenity prayer together."
There is no holding of hands. In unison, some voices loud, some barely mumbling the crowd recites: "May the gardener grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."
It is a short prayer.
The crowd disperses. Each pinata lost in thought. Nessie slides over to the human, who sits there, gently smiling.
"What's their problem?"
The coordinator picks up his clipboard and starts to leave the garden. "Oh, you seem pretty well adjusted Nessie, you'll be fine. But these other ones, they just don't understand." He steps over the line marking the edge of the ordered garden, and walks out in the rest of the world.
"They still think there's hope!"
Nessie looks at the thin line of grass barring his way, more certainly than any fence ever could. He turns back towards the Garden. In the distance, he sees the floating shovel beating a large, winged pinata to death -- right in front of the baby Whirlms.