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The girl who planted herself (a short, short story)

She knew that time was running out. By spring she would not blossom, or grow fat or freckly in next summer’s sun. So before the ground froze too hard she began to dig. In a sheltered spot beneath a sycamore tree she dug down, through leaf mould, through soggy earth, through crumbly loam. The wet smell of incubation. Past knotted roots, taking care not to snap the larger ones but tearing through the smaller. Like tearing sinew off bone. Past earthworms, lost treasures and long abandoned holes. Into the sticky, dark warmth. She sprinkled seeds all the way down, let Sycamore helicopters fall in. As the leaves turned golden she let them fall into her nest. Lining it with last summer’s sunshine. She searched through her wardrobes and gave away her summer clothes. Selected her favourite, a midnight blue evening dress, trimmed with black lace and jet beads and a slather of plummy lipstick. A soft brown jumper and a purple scarf. Woollen gloves and a sparkly beret completed the outfit. A flask of hot chocolate with brandy tucked under one arm she set off down the garden path. For a while she sat, as if on the edge of a pool, legs dangling into nothing, watching the crisp blue sky and the last swallows depart for other summer climes. As the light began to fade a crisp quality in the air tightened the world around her. Drawing into herself she slid gently onto a bed of golden leaves and the smell of last August, warm earth and things passing. The ground gently moulded to the curves of her body. As her weight was absorbed she became lighter, resting like a fallen flower petal. A gentle breeze ruffled her hair as she curled deeper down into the earth, which opened itself to embrace her. As darkness fell the walls of the hole began to slide and shift, folding over her to prevent the coming frost from puckering her fingers and nose. With one last sigh the girl’s breath moved the leaves and a new seed was planted. Everyone looked for the longest time. And then in the spring, bluebells under the sycamore tree. Indigo deep blue appeared as if from nowhere. The ground had not been disturbed but enriched. The girl had planted herself.

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