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The Boring Seed

by Kat Beyer

My uncle gave me a thunderstorm seed for my 14th birthday. I had just unwrapped three PS games (none of the cool ones, Mom didn't want the violence to rot my moral fiber, whatever) and a Judy Blume book from my misguided Aunt Cheryl (hello, I'm a boy! What was she thinking?!). I picked up a tiny box next, and when I read Uncle Tom's name in the card, I felt a jolt of disappointment: this was the uncle who had given me a power drill the year before, and frankly I was expecting something, well, bigger.

But I smiled my fake polite smile, which I have had plenty of chance to practice with six aunts and uncles and not enough kids to dilute their attention, and unwrapped the box.

At the exact moment that I opened the lid and saw the plain gray seed, about the same size as a cherry pit, my uncle said, "I know it looks kind of boring."

"Yeah," I said, relieved.

"Well, don't be fooled when something comes in a boring package. Don't touch it!"

I pulled my finger back.

"What is it?" I asked, automatically putting the box in Aunt Cheryl's hand when she reached for it.

Each aunt examined it, nodding solemnly before she passed it to the next, and I could tell everyone else knew it was.

"Something for the future," he said mysteriously. "Plant it when you want something exciting to happen, but only when you're really serious, not when you just feel bored. Plant it before a hot date," he smiled.

"Tom," said Aunt Cheryl in a scolding voice, but I saw her cheek twitch before she could hide her smile. He ignored her the same way I ignore my sister sometimes.

"Don't you think he's a little young...?" My mother asked him in the kitchen later, when she thought I was outside playing with my youngest uncle.

"Oh, I don't know. You guys have already got him thinking about Yale," he said, laughing.

I forgot about the thunderstorm seed until the night before my junior prom. I had a special date for the prom: a girl I hadn't noticed at the start of the year, mostly because she sat at the front of the class with the other brains. But one day in February, when school couldn't have been any grayer, she made a joke and I fell out of my seat laughing.

And so, in that spring when prom dresses and acceptance letters bloomed, on a nervous night after I had picked up my tuxedo, I planted the seed.

All I can say is, bless Uncle Tom. He never told me where he got it from.

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