[Short] Seedlings

Awareness dawns for the little seed as it sits in its cocoon. It doesn’t know it’s a seed. It just knows it has life, and it stretches as far as its pod allows. I want to grow, it says and feels and thinks. I want to grow. And so it stretches, and pulls and pushes, and wriggles but nothing happens. Wait, says the cocoon, the skein that wraps tightly around the seed. Wait, and see. 

The seed ignores the skein. It wriggles. It pushes. It is life, and it is full of life. Life can’t wait for a skein’s wisdom.

But it can wait for a gust of wind. The right gust, the right time, and with nary a pop, the seed is afloat. It can look through the skein, seeing a blur of bright lights and passing colours, but the sense of lightness is something it has never felt before. It wants to sing, but it has no voice, so it contents itself with the song in its head. The skein, with its wispy head that the seed will never see, floats, dances, spins, having the time of its life. 

But the wind settles, and with it, the seed drops gently to the ground. Unknown to it, many of its brethren are scattered around it, but it is the only one that lands in the little crack between two stone slabs. There is earth in the crack, and the skein’s last act is to angle itself straighter, dropping its bottom point and the bottom of the seed downwards as far as it can. The seed still lands on its side, but the job is done well enough. The seed pushes, and breaks through its skein, reaching, stretching out, towards the earth below it. It knows not how or why it does this, but it does, and when it stretches enough, it finds water. Not much. Just enough to moisten its lips, to draw that precious elixir up to itself. And as it does so, its roots start to spread and seek, more little lips looking for more water, and also exploring bits and pieces in the earth. Some bits are nicer than others, and whatever is nice is sucked by the root-lips, taken by the seed to nourish itself.

But the stone slabs are irritated. Stone has no room for plants, or roots, or irritating seeds that should not be there. Stone slabs are meant to be orderly, placed a certain way. Big noisy, smoky things will roll over them, and they have to work hard to maintain the weight of those noisy things. They are useful and good. Plants only weaken them, pushing them aside. Say no to plants, those beastly things. So they look with disdain on this little seed, wishing in their stony hearts that the seed will wilt and then vanish, like the many others that have been scattered on them. Go away, little plant. Go away and leave us be.

But the seed hears not, as the stone has not deemed it necessary to speak to the little seed that has no signs of life. Underground though, it lives, and thrives. It has found enough water, and nutrients. It is time. Time to… grow.

And so with a one, two, three, the seed pushes. Up this time. UP. We can do this!

It fails. The first time. The second. Stop, breathe, have a light snack and sip some of that wonderful water. A third time. A fourth. 

The stones watch in silent glee as nothing happens. Good. Let nothing happen. That is the way of the stone.

And then a little shoot pops its head out of the seed, and in a blink of a stone’s eye, in the breadth of a seed’s breath, two little leaves appear. The stones are irritated, but the seed cares not. It is now more than a seed, but it does not care. Life happens. It has to grow. 

The sun is bright, for a good time. The leaves dish up delicious and delectable drops of food for the seed-plant to eat, and with a song and a tilt of its body, it eats. And then the sun disappears, but it is no time to be sad. It is time to sleep while singing, and the seed-plant stretches still, up and down, and all around if it could. But leaves are harder to produce, so up and down it is. And a few small leaves here and there. 

Even as the darkness passes, little drops of dew appear under the seed-plant’s leaves. And it marvels at how its leaves hang under the weight, yet feel so cool and joyous as the drops of dew finally vanish with the coming of the sun. And more water has appeared in the earth – and so food starts to be made again, and it’s time to feast yet again.

But the stone hasn’t let up either. The slabs are angry, making noise, grating in their low, loud rumbles about useless plants and small leaves and little things that don’t know their place in the world. They want to beat down the little plant that dares to raise its head. They know that it is an anamoly, and anamolies must be destroyed. Life has always been a certain way, and these stupid little seeds don’t know better. They rage, and roil, and the seed-plant hears them.

Days pass, and the plant is now growing bigger. But as it grows, it realises that there isn’t enough earth for it, or enough water for it to grow any bigger. It looks all around, and the nearest other plants are so far away. It is striving, but totally alone. The stones smirk now, as it realises how far away it is from other like beings, and how lonesome it actually is. There is but the water at its feet, and the little crack is not widening. Its leaves look small and tiny next to the stone.

And one day as it dines on its meager fare, suddenly loud noises start to approach. The ground shakes, and the stone slabs shiver in anticipation, their voices adding to the cacophony shaking the plant’s very roots. And the plant quivers in fear, for the first time in its life. Its very roots seem about to be shaken loose, the leaves shivering and its thin stem barely able to hold up its form. A large black object passes barely next to the plant, and then the noises recede, but the smells in the air linger. And the plant knows, just knows, that this is possibly the worst place to try to grow.

Yet grow it must. It must do its best. Against the stone’s voices, against the wisdom of trying against a world where it must be rubbed out for being so small and tiny and miniscule, the plant has a purpose. And it must fulfill that purpose. 

So one day, even in its tiredness, with all its little might, the plant pushes forth a small bud. It knows not why or how. The bud appears, and then within a few deep breaths, the bud pops open. A scraggly little yellow flower sits at the end of a long stem now, peeking out shyly and impossibly from a thin crown of small leaves. And now the leaves work even harder to provide food – and the plant wants to weep for itself. 

Small. Alone. Meaningless. Pointless. Yet striving. Whatever for?

The stones laugh. The loud objects move. The ground shakes. And the plant weeps. 

But what is this? A looming presence that does not stink of the ground movers. A gentle cry. An exclamation. 

And the plant hears, as if in a dream.

“Little one… Thank you for living in the midst of the impossible. Thank you for your beauty in the midst of nowhere. Thank you for being you, for fighting to be you, for giving of yourself, even if you may not know why even now. But in your giving, in your living, in your being, you have given me hope in the midst of darkness. You are small, but here, where there is nothing but the emptiness of a carpark, you are a sign of life fighting to be, even where it should not be. Thank you. I’ll now take a picture of you, to help others to know that they can fight too. But you’ll always be special to me.”

Does the plant understand? Does it know where the voice came from? Whatever the case, it stands a little taller, and the little wilted flower perks up, and in a flurry of effort, joy, hope and life, it swells with pride and hope. And as its parent did once, in the long past that gave a little seed its life, a ball of seeds comes into being. Petals, wilted but with joy, flutter gently onto the grumbling stones. It will all be over soon, and the stones will be left alone again. Hopefully. Maybe.

But life still beats an irresistable rhythm, as the little plant prepares to release its children into the wide open world. 

And perhaps, small as it may be, it will bring hope to someone else, the hope that life will always win against the odds, that hope while unseen, unasked for, will always find a little crack to prevail in.

And thrive against all odds, bringing a smile among the darkness of the noise, and the rumblings of the stone.

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