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Prologue

“Go, Tina!” “Kick it, Teddy!” The kids called out to each other, cheering each other on in the game of Simball in the hard dirt yard behind the orphanage. Young Flora stood uncertainly by the back steps, wanting to play but not knowing how. She was building up the nerve to ask someone how to play when two bigger kids ran out the door behind her and jostled her as they sped by.

“Maybe tomorrow. It’s only my first day here.” Flora thought to herself as she slowly made her way around the edge of the yard to the trees beyond. She had been in the hospital so long it seemed like forever since she’d touched a tree, felt the roughness of its bark, or enjoyed the dappled sunshine on her face as she looked up through the leaves.

As she stepped in the little copse of trees, she felt a sense of peace surround her – peace that she hadn’t known since before the accident that took her parents from her and almost took her life, too. She had very few memories of her life before, but she remembered her mother’s hands guiding hers with the watering can as she learned how to take care of the flowers, and she remembered the crisp taste of the first apple that her father plucked from the tree and handed to her.

Flora knelt on the grass in the cool of the forest and found herself next to a wild grapevine. She admired its spunk to grow there unassisted, and she spoke to it as she pulled a weed that was trying to invade its space. “One day I’m going to have a big garden where I can help plants like you grow. And I’m going to raise a family of my own, too, in a beautiful green place. One day I’ll be big enough to leave this place and start a wonderful new life.”

Years later, Flora would do just that.

Chapter One

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