An Open Letter to a Dandelion Seed

4 min
Image of 2018
Image of Short Story
You are dead already. Do not let this fact scare you. Embrace it.
Soon, summer will sweep you away, and you will be at the mercy of the wind. You will float along highways, maybe across a car or two, and delight in how they can never seem to hit you. You will skim ponds, buildings without windows, buildings with too many windows. You will meet children who tromp just under you, laughing and screaming. You will meet people who sit on porches with bottles of Budweiser, following you only with their eyes. Be wary of people who promise you water, the deepest, darkest, muskiest soil, if they could just hold you for five minutes. Do, however, rest on the roofs of houses, in the branches of trees, away from their eyes.
When you find yourself sinking, land quietly. Bury yourself just deep enough in the soil to disappear. Melt into the dirt and cut your glossy white hair. The strands twirl to the soil. Sleep, or count raindrops hitting the dirt.
It will overtake you before you register it happening. First, droplets of moisture seep through your skin. A chilly fullness grips your body. Something presses against your chest, bursting outwards. You stretch limbs you never knew you had, furled and dormant.
Before long, it will happen again. What was pinched shut now strains towards the sun. It’s loose and breathless, the way you have turned yourself inside-out, how you sway drunkenly back and forth. You wonder how many more layers you have left.
Your beauty will attract many a creature. Be a gracious host, and welcome each with open arms. Beware the insects who tip their heads at the door but are the last to leave. Hold your breath on hot days. Enjoy the cool ones. Count each day you spend untouched.
One day, you count your sepals in a panic as they crumple and tumble to the ground. Remember how not long ago you fell from the sky. Something shuffles inside your stem, and you tell yourself it’s the bugs, that they’ve finally gotten to you. Frantically recount each one that came, and each one that left. Do bugs lay eggs? You’re not sure.
Days later you hear voices, strangely like your own. They seep in like little tongues, flick back and forth, at each other, against the walls of the flower. A feathery arm brushes past. You see the white hair you lost so long ago floating towards you, and you understand. You gingerly unfurl the last layer you have left to give.
The seedlings atop your head murmur and hush each other as you relax your grip on them. It hurts. You imagine it was this way before you left. One by one, release your paper-thin grip on each seed as the wind picks up, and remember how not long ago you took to the sky. Send each one away with a smile. Wonder where they’ll land.
Winter, summer, winter, summer. Sprinkle your petals on the earth like pennies, knowing new ones will replace them. Keep an open line with the others. One day, they may bobble and smile from across the lawn. The next, there may be only a stump.
Each year the sight of your children flying away becomes cloudier and cloudier. One day you may cling to the last seed before he departs. Let me fly with you, you say. He’ll give you a forlorn look and tug himself free with a coming draft. Perhaps he won’t land at all. Perhaps he’ll just keep flying, up and up into space. You resign yourself to spreading your leaves and feeling them parachute against the breeze.
Spring, autumn, spring, autumn. You have watched yourself and those around you lay to rest beneath the snow time and time again, secretly hoping one year after the other that some of them will not wake up. But they do. And your lives crawl on.
Release wave after wave of seeds. Decide life isn’t so bad after all.
Winter, fall, winter, fall. Another day, you may try to walk like the animals do. You struggle until something beneath you pops and come to the frosty realization that maybe you are stuck here forever. You slept while you sank lower and lower into the ground, until what keeps you alive becomes what’s killing you from the ground up.
When the sun finally picks through the slate clouds, someone comes splashing through the swimming grass. They crouch by your side, a strand of hair like a crack on their waxy face, whispering to themselves, and in that moment, you feel beautiful, more than you ever have. Then they pinch your throat shut and pull.
Spend the next months in agony, trying in vain to grow back what you’ve lost. More people walk by. They scoff at the headless weed on the lawn. They don’t bother uprooting you.
Count raindrops. You will write a poem in the mud. The rain drowns my blood, yet I can always tell which is which. You stretch tender buds to the drizzle, but it doesn’t feel quite the same as it did. The fascination has melted away with the snow.
You overhear someone wish to be a flower, to become young every spring. You crane your neck—reminded of your immobility—but you can’t see them, can only hear their footsteps in the mulchy grass.
One day in ten feels like your birthday, but honestly, you’ve lost count.
Your seeds will drown in thunderstorms. A spring freeze will claim your leaves. Yet, whether you want to or not, you will grow them back, offering them up to the sky to destroy again like a chlorophyll insult.
Imagine where you children are growing. There’s a trace of you in each of them. In each of their own children. The thought makes you shudder.
Someone will pick you up. But not in the way they did when you were just a seed. They will grip you around the waist. They will tear your delicate stems, your leaves, your roots from the ground with a crackle, and you will be free. If you fight, they will use a weeding fork. Perhaps they will drizzle something sweet over you. It tastes like sunlight, and the next thing you know, your head bows and the world swells. Then, with your broken body in their hands, they will lay you to rest in a green bin, hazy with the smell of decay, and close the lid. They will dump you on the shoulder somewhere along a highway. You will sink, molecule by molecule, into the earth.
You are dead already.
Soon, summer will sweep your ashes away, and the wind and the world will at last be at your mercy.

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