It wasn’t just the war, no certainly not. There had been wars and rumors of wars for as long as anyone could remember. Some places for thousands of years. This time however, the devastation was complete. The land didn’t have the resiliency it once did due to decades of environmental indifference, and the radioactive particles from each new explosion seeped deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. Uncontaminated water sources once tapped were contaminated within days. The small skirmishes that broke over this precious resource, eventually stopped, because, really, what was the point? Anymore.
The once abundant land that produced seed that could then reproduce itself in the beautiful, intricate cycle of life had been stilted by food producers. It was a gross oversight, for how could food be regrown if the factories making the annual harvest seeds were damaged beyond capacity and the scientists who developed the process killed? In fact, this problem was quite extensive in that the genetic code making life-forms sterile spread into many other plant species. Every living thing on earth, to even the most casual observer, was on its last leg. Humans could still reproduce but eventually stopped too, because, again, what was the point? Anymore.
What do you do when you hoarded and fought so much over things meant for sharing that finally, there was nothing left of it to fight for?
The father knew his son didn’t have a future, but still he pretended. They played chess and tag and hide ‘n seek. He told his son stories; great, epic narratives of a time long since passed about heroes who could and would feed the hungry, house the foreigner, and give more than they had, and then somehow end up with even more. Sometimes too his friend, the old man, would stop by and he would crack open the dwindling supply of his most precious resource. A bottle of beer. They would drink it together, raising it to their friends long past, their homelands, the forests, the sun. The boy, feeling slightly dizzy, would remember the smell of the rain, and his mother, holding him close.
One day, however, the father found an old flower pot in his basement. There was still some dirt, and digging around, some seeds! He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but still, he had hope. Him and his son went out back, and almost shaking, held the seeds in a tight fist hovering over the hole they just dug.
“Do you think it will grow?” the boy asked.
“Only one way to find out…” said the father, but right as he was about to open his palm, the boy stopped him.
“Wait, maybe we should do something? I mean….what happened…you know…back before there was stuff growing? Like my science book talks about, before, you know…life?”
“I’m not really sure. I don’t think anyone knows…” the father’s voice trailed off, deep in thought.
The boy shrugged, “Maybe I could blow on it?’
The father, taken aback, looked at him quizzically. “What good would that do?”
“I don’t know. It makes as much sense as anything else,” said the boy, his eyes glittering softly, inspired.
The father chuckled, “Ah my boy, you have faith that can move mountains!”
He opened his palm and the boy blew ever so softly on the seed. The father, just as softly, dropped the precious cargo into the waiting earth.
Sometime later, after the father had gotten very sick, on the day he was sure would be his last, he looked out the window and saw a single shoot sprouting from the mound where they had planted the seed.