Word Count: 1125 Average Read Time: 5:38 Time Completed: 4th Day Evening Sprints
The soil seemed to rise to meet Flaffin’s feet, clinging to their soles with each passing step.
At first, Flaffin dismissed it. It had begun before, only to cease with the coming of thw next sunrise, or even the sunrise after. Part of the body’s preparation for blooming, their relatives all said. It happened to many young Atenpla as they neared the middle of their lives; it was no surprise to any of them that it should be happening now to Flaffin.
But this was the third day. Should it continue much longer, it would no longer be a simple sign of times to come: Those times might be here, and it might be time for Flaffin to seed. The thought terrified Flaffin as they brought water to their parent’s resting place.
The Atenpla had struggled some sense of normalcy and predictability in their lives, since the uplifting, when they rose from their humble beginnings as flowers and sprouts to stand amongst the “Soft Ones”. This resulted in them taking a great interest in a few very specific things, and rejecting that which did not make sense to them.
For instance, it was rare for an Atenpla to wear any kind of clothing. After all, they grew foliage on themselves to cover up their softer, most vital parts… and oftentimes, it was this very foliage that the Soft Ones would harvest from the plants they grew to cover themselves.
So, while they would (only sometimes) cover themselves with other’s dead foliage to walk amongst particularly particular communities, when they were amongst themselves there was never a notion of clothing being needed.
However, as for the cycles of their lives, each part of the cycle was well documented and well defined. From their parent’s Seeding, there would be a period where the child was along, and grew in the ground. During this time, it would need to have water, sunlight, and good, strong soil…
But for most parents, this was left to the ground upon which their seed fell. It was only on the Harvest, once the sprout was firm and strong, that parents would come to begin to care for the newborn. And, it was only then that it was considered to truly be alive.
Once Harvested, the child would grow fairly quickly: foliage would cover those parts once hidden from the light, height and width would come, and the roots on their hands and feet would shrink, allowing them to walk and grasp without setting down and staying. This period would last about one quarter of the young Atenpla’s life, and would be one filled with easy sun, easy water, and easy rules.
Then, adulthood would set in. This was the time when You helped the community, helped the young, and helped Your parents as they approached the soil once again.
After seeding a few times, the Atenpla would begin to wilt, and eventually would take root somewhere, to spend the rest of their days quietly observing the world around them. And, once taken to the soil again, elder Atenpla could sense things no other creature could: minor vibrations in the soil were weather changes and children growing; silent breezes carried stories from far off, telling of what was happening in the world neighboring the Field.
Flaffin had had both parents take the soil since the last great cold, and had been visiting them daily, to converse and water them, and see to anything they might need. It brought all involved much joy, and Flaffin much wisdom otherwise lost to the silent leaves.
Should Flaffin reach the end of Adulthood, however, it would mean other young Atenpla would take his place, and he would begin to Seed.
For the Atenpla, this was a momentous occasion… a once in a lifetime occurrence that was not to be taken lightly. There was usually a great celebration, and the chance to receive the pollen of many of those he knew, that the next generation might be strong and resilient upon their growth. For Flaffin to have that honor would be a great joy, but now it only brought nervous thoughts.
For, when the Atenpla had seeded for the very first time, they must “Take to the Wind”.
The Atenpla, uniquely, would only Seed a few times in their lives. The first was done as a celebration, where the community would strengthen its bonds by seeding amongst itself. This was fine for Flaffin, it meant staying for a bit longer.
Afterwards, Flaffin would be expected to leave the Field until their next Seeding, or longer.
“Taking to the Wind,” as they called it, was meant to serve three functions: First, it would bring diversity to the field upon Flaffin’s return. The idea was originally taken from the flowering plants they held as ancestors, with seeds carried upon the wind to new places, and thus crossing with new, differing species. This was a good thing, though it did frighten Flaffin, who had never really seen a Soft One before.
Second, it would let Flaffin see the world, and learn from the Soft Ones. This was the best part, to Flaffin, for it meant discovering new ideas, thoughts, concepts, and stories.
But the Third function was the issue: They were to give back to the Soft Ones in any way they could, as they would represent the Atenpla to the world. There were a great many creatures in the world, and many had bad reputations. If a Seeder was bad, they would be blocked from entering the Field upon return, until the damage had been repaired…
This meant life, possibly the rest of life, outside and away from those who knew Flaffin, or who could relate to them in any way.
And the only way to avoid it was to guess how best to help those with no roots, no leaves, no Seeding, no Sprouts, no Soil… And to do nothing was impermissable, as well, for that would always end in a bad word for a creature so radically noticeable to the Soft Ones as the Atenpla. Besides, missing all of the potential stories and lessons just to cheat themselves back into the Field was not something Flaffin was willing to do.
There they were: a beautiful set of Yellow Dandelions, as tall as a fence or a sapling, facing the rest of the field, and thus, Flaffin. Facing the other side, the river they’d chosen as their resting place, were the contented faces of the people who had cared for Flaffin since he was in the same soil they currently rested in. They looked at Flaffin, and spoke a single sentence which caused Flaffin’s petals to fill with electric shocks.
“So, it is finally time for You to Seed.”