Submitted by acmfox on Mon, 04/24/2017 - 8:50pm

This is a continuation of the saga about Miss Porter's Magic Summer Camp for Girls. In it we learn just how mysterious the Meditation Garden is. So this isn't a mystery in the 'murder mystery' sort of sense, but the best I could do with limited brain cells devoted to the project:

The Meditation Garden, part 3

After visiting the meditation garden fifty times or so, I began noticing subtle differences—not with the gazebos, but with the paths connecting them. For a while, I tested whether there was only one, or perhaps a few gazebos and an elaborate illusion connecting them. I brought a stack of colored index cards and a marker. In each gazebo I visited, I left a numbered card. The gazebo at the entrance to the garden, I left with the number, “1,” the next one I visited, “2,” and so on. After leaving sixty or so cards on identical marble benches, I had to conclude that no matter how many cards I had, I could continue to find new places for my cards. My previously placed cards remained where I put them—when I retraced my steps, the cards were exactly where I expected them to be.

I met a couple of others walking the garden. When they noticed my cards with their neat numerals inscribed, they smiled and moved on. They understood something I had yet to grasp.

The fact that it seemed there were an infinite number of gazebos in this garden was disappointing. How was one to explore all of its secrets when there was no limit to the size or range of the place? I picked up the yellow card numbered, “57,” folded it into a butterfly and let it flutter down the corridor ahead of me. From the corner of my eye, I saw an identical paper butterfly loose in the corridor to my left. I knew that if I followed the corridor ahead, I’d find a card in it marked, “59.” If I followed the corridor to my left, “58” would be waiting for me.

Just to be sure I ran each route, passing the paper butterfly about a third of the way along, now resting on the ground. I tried moving the butterfly. The position it had in one corridor was identical to the other. So although the gazebos were different, the corridors were the same. I had a mystery here: how could a single path lead to more than one destination?

It took the rest of the summer to discover nine distinct paths through the entire garden. I suspected that it would take the rest of my life to visit every place that those marble courses led.

Miss Porter would often find me in the garden and ask how many paths I’d identified. She seemed very pleased when I found the ninth path. She never would say how many paths there were. She told me that each unique path had a name, but those names would be hidden from me for a while longer.