VI. That’s One Way to Remember You’re Alive

by Jennifer Weatherly
[this is the sixth in the six part series–
read Nature Always Finds a Way Through from the beginning, here]

Here’s one lesson I’ve learned, with more heft than nearly anything else: Now means a great deal, but only if you believe that that’s true. Try believing in before or tomorrow, and you’ll see things differently. Here’s another one: Nobody knows anything, but they’ll pretend they do just to get by.

Sometimes you only realize how little you know about the world when you get thrown into one of its quieter corners.

Because, sure, most people will tell you you’re bound to get wise from stumbling through city streets and noise, from shoving your way into late-night whispered conversations, from grinding out hours upon hours of work. That’s one of those things they pretend is true. Me, I thought they were right. That’s why I moved here. But the last lesson I learned is this one: They’re only a little bit right, the people who spout those ideas. They’re missing, if I had to assign numbers to it, about sixty, sixty-five percent of what matters.

And I’m not prone to digging into those pockets myself, not at all someone you’d call earthy. I do clerical work; I don’t like getting shit in my fingernails. So when she invited me home after we’d gone for drinks, and home turned out to be a garden, I was almost speechless. Almost.

You’ve got to be kidding me, I laughed. So no house? Not even a hothouse. Just plants?

She smiled, and it was irritatingly coy. Yeah, she said. You’ll see.

What do you mean, I’ll see?

Her answer was a flicker of a kiss on the mouth, one that made its way down my neck. Then she started unbuttoning my shirt. Already she was moving so fast, like a high school girl on a second date who’d been kept under her parents’ thumb too long. But I didn’t stop her. She was rapturous, I was getting hard, and I didn’t want to stop her.

But by the time we both were naked and down on the ground, in the grass and the dirt, I just about wished I had. I could feel the earth between my toes and hear its gentle thrum beneath my head. And it said—well. I couldn’t really tell you what it said. That’s the point, I guess. But it was so damned loud. It’s so loud, and we never really listen, we don’t hear it at all.

Then we finished and I gasped, rolling over onto my back. She turned herself onto one side, facing me. I craned my neck and saw that she was smiling again, but widely now, beatific. The full moon lit up her eyes and I wondered how I’d failed to notice them at all. They were amber, iridescent.

Thank you, she sighed.

No one ever says thank you afterward, at least no one I know, so I just stared at her. Until I saw it. The reason why. Her hand closest to me was sealing itself to the earth, or really, into it; it was flattening, turning pale, then pale green.

The aroma of tomato vines had never nauseated me before.

What’s happening? I asked, but I didn’t need to, because that was when her eyes lost their pupils. Her face started changing. Her body was falling away from me, twisting upward into ropy strands that spiraled around one another. More vines. She was covered in tiny white flowers, and suddenly I realized she had stopped looking like she. It must have happened when the fruit replaced her eyes.

Then I was alone, undressed, on the ground, in a garden I’d never been to before and didn’t ever want to see again. That’s what I meant before, I guess. There’s only so much you can gather from being around everybody else. They all follow the same rules. Except one. They forget that when you leave your cells behind, they have a mind of their own, and grow into something else whether you like it or not.


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