The Seed

by Mark Granger

There’s something in my shoe.

A stone maybe, I don’t know, but it’s digging in my heel. I was going to get it out on the walk home from work, but there were too many people. I didn’t want to look stupid.

As I enter my flat, I can barely put my foot to the floor. I slam the door behind me and hop through to the living room and let myself fall onto the sofa. I pull my trainer off, expecting some relief, but none comes. I feel inside; it’s empty.

I peel off my sock, quick, pain tearing through my heel as I do. I don’t want to look.

But I do.

Sticking out of my heel, stretching towards the one window in the room, thirsty for light, is a rose. At least I think it is. I’ve never seen one this small. It’s about half an inch tall with yellow petals. I can even see tiny thorns.

I take hold of the stem, carefully, near the bottom where it disappears into my heel, and pull hard.

There is pain, but not that much. I look at the rose clasped between my thumb and forefinger. The stem has snapped.

I look at the crack in my heel where the rose had sprouted. The end of the stem is still in there.

I remember I bought some weed killer when there was moss growing on the outside of my window. I think it’s still under the sink.

I go to the kitchen, and the weed killer is there between the ant poison and the wasp spray. I don’t even check to see if it is safe to use on human skin. I want this thing gone.

The weed killer is in a green spray bottle. A yellow label boasts that it “kills weeds to their roots so they don’t come back.” That’s what I want. I spray it liberally on my heel, ramming the nozzle against the crack in the skin. It stings to merry hell, and the weed killer drips onto the floor, but I carry on until the bottle is empty.

I put my foot down.

My foot is wet. So is the floor.

The floor is smooth.

I slip.

I fall.

I hit my head on the cupboard.

I pass out.

It’s the pain that wakes me up. It’s in both feet now and it has spread to my legs. I open my eyes and look.

Roses have wound their way up my legs, sprouting from my feet all the way up to my waist. I grab at them, but they have torn their way through my trousers and embedded themselves in my skin, like ivy on an old building. I notice they’re still growing. They have gone past my waist and now a thorn scrapes against my belly button.

I have to find something to cut them off me. Scissors. A knife. I can’t stand because the vines have bound my legs together. They are growing faster now; my entire torso is covered and one of my arms is bound to my side. As I reach for the cutlery drawer, they snake around my other arm. I manage to grab the handle, pain ripping through me as thorns scrape and roots tear at my flesh. I pull the drawer as hard as I can, and the cutlery rattles but nothing shakes free.

Fire. I need fire. I need to burn this stuff off me.

The vines are wrapping around my head, snaking up my nose, into my ears. A thorn pierces my eye.

I use every ounce of my energy to pull myself towards the oven. I pull open the door, my hand the only part of me not bound by vines. I yank out the shelves and shuffle forward so my head is inside. The vines try to stop me, but I push through the pain.

I turn the gas nob.

I press the ignition.




Fire explodes from the oven, the fumes from the weed killer igniting.

And I burn.

My body turns to ashes in the kitchen, but I am still here.

Now I am vine and flower.

I lie there for days, rotting, until I am just a seed.

On the twelfth day, someone comes in.

They speak words I no longer understand.

As they walk through the flat, they stand on me.

I cling on to the shoe.

And I wait.

Eventually that foot will be bare.

Skin exposed.

So, I wait.

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