Seeds Grow in the Dark
Though Yuri was a groundskeeper, his son Grig didn’t yet understand the mechanics of growing. At six years old, he was a strange boy. He listened to the radio to know what to be scared of: polio, flash floods, the atom bomb. All these maladies – especially polio – made him snake his hands up his sleeves.
Yuri worked at the municipal graveyard and Grig liked playing there, under the apricot trees where his schoolmates were buried. These trees were heavy with stone fruit that splattered onto the graves (more cleaning work for Yuri). The boy liked collecting things he found: pinecones, helicopter seeds, apricot pits, dandelions. He lined his pockets with seeds that spilled out when he retrieved his bus fare.
One day, Yuri noticed Grig taking apricot pits and planting them around the apartment. The boy didn’t yet know that seeds couldn’t grow in sofas, under pillows or inside kitchen pots. Yuri nearly told him that growing doesn’t work that way – that water, sun and earth were necessary – but he hesitated.
“Wait,” he told his son, “first take the seed from the stone.” With soil-stamped hands, Yuri picked up a pit, cracked it open and revealed the seed inside. Grig went back through the rooms and split the stone fruit one by one.
“Now what?” he asked.
“Now we must put out the lights,” Yuri said, “for seeds grow in the dark.” Grig teetered on tiptoes and scratched down the switch. They waited together in the shadows.
Weeks passed in darkness and Yuri told himself to explain growing. He saw Grig peering into the hiding places in disappointment – and knew he had to act. He would buy infant apricot trees to switch them out. He would water them with the tea kettle, making the apartment stink of earth. And when his son came home from school, his hands would peek out from his sleeves. He would finger the leaves, certain now that things grew in unexpected places.
Nadia Born writes peculiar fiction, both literary and speculative. Her work is published or forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Water~Stone Review, SmokeLong Quarterly and elsewhere. She also has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best Microfiction. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University.
Art (modified): Antonio Filigno Pexels Free to use ALT A deep red peach stone, an orange peach, a vibrant green background, a collage of photograph and blocks of colour
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