The Seedling by Laurie Cunningham

You were a tough little seedling. How could you have known what kind of world waited for you?

When you first poked your little shoot above the surface looking for the warm glow of the sun, I was terrified. I wanted to keep you a secret. You weren’t supposed to exist. But there you were all the same with your delicate little stem and fragile little leaves. Even though I was scared, as you grew, I couldn’t help but grow to love you.

When I finally told Mom and Dad you existed…

I’ve never seen Dad so mad. How could I be so stupid? How could I be so reckless? Was I trying to ruin my life? I remember putting my hands over you and trying to protect you from his words.

Mom… Mom didn’t say anything. She just stared at the floor and eventually left the room, leaving me with Dad’s anger.

Despite my pleas that I could be a good mom, my love for you wavered and doubt crept in. I was supposed to be ashamed of you. My parents definitely were. They were ashamed of both of us. How could I be so stupid? How could I be so reckless? I had ruined my life.

My decision weighed heavily on me as I stared at the sidewalk while Mom trailed behind me, more embarrassed of me than ever. I tried not to see the people across the street with signs telling me I’d burn in Hell for my choice. The dark grey carpet of the waiting room wasn’t any more welcoming. Neither was the sterile tiled floor of the long hallway I was forced to walk down.

The doctor said she was on my side, but she was there to take you away from me. Mom was supposed to have been on my side too, but she was the one who’d encouraged me to go to that terrible place.

I put my hands over you trying to protect you—I did that a lot. Maybe if I could hide you, the doctor wouldn’t find you.

Mom didn’t say anything to me on the long drive home. In fact, she never said anything about that day ever again. I had never felt so alone. I didn’t even have you anymore.

Dad yelled some more when we got home, but his words didn’t matter anymore. It was done. I was an empty shell. And nothing he could say would hurt more than knowing I had lost you. “Lost” you. Who was I kidding? I had thrown you away like you never meant anything to me.

Lying in the dark that night, knowing that I wouldn’t sleep, I put my hands over you trying to protect you, but you were already gone. How do you protect a memory?

Nine weeks old. No bigger than a marble. Frozen in time. You were a tough little seedling. How could you have known what kind of world waited for you?