Friday, April 18, 2008


Roget discovered the seed packet at the back of a dusty cupboard, covered with flaky old spiderwebs, criss-crossed with gossamer so efficiently it appeared to be wrapped in film. Holding the packet up to his ear, shaking it, he heard clearly the life-rattle of small botanical lives.

He poured the seeds onto his desk, placing a strong lamp near them so that he could see them better under a magnifying glass. The packet itself held little clues, having long ago faded to that strangely ebullient yellow all paper eventually becomes. The seeds themselves were kidney-shaped, brown at one end and black at the other, nearly fifty of them in total.

Roget imagined his grandmother choosing the seeds from some West Malvern trader, having them poured into the packet with a copper scoop. Why she had left these particular seeds were as much a mystery as why he was so intrigued by them now. Pressing his finger down upon his desk, he brought up three seeds, temporarily embedded in his skin, up to his face. Sniffing them, he detected little scent. He gingerly placed them on his tongue, meaning only to search for any recognisable taste. When none was found, Roget found himself placing the seeds, with his tongue, beneath his molars. He ground them down, searching for some time before he felt the gritty crunch of a captured husk.

It would have made far more sense simply to cut one of the seeds open with a razor, but blades held painful memories for Roget, too keen an instrument in endings to be any use in exploring beginnings. And what did he taste? What Roget found, as his teeth broke the hard shellac of a pre-germinate kernel, was life.

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