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The Gardener

Kneeling in the centre of the flower bed, Amanda tore open the seed packet to reveal a single, small misshapen brown sphere. Turning the packet over, over she read the hand written instructions on the back: "Plant deep. Water well."

Amanda dug a hole into the soft spongy soil with her hands and gently dropped the seed in. She then covered the hole with dirt and drizzled it with water from an old tea cup.

She crossed her legs and, leaning forward with her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees, looked down at the ground that she'd just watered.

"Ready when you are," she said to the damp patch of soil.

The damp patch of soil popped and gurgled as the water soaked in.

Amanda smiled. "I'll come back tomorrow," she whispered.

* * *

The next day was even sunnier and warmer than the last, and Amanda found herself once again sitting cross-legged in front of where she'd planted the little seed.

"Still not ready, eh?" she said nodding, "That's ok. No rush. You can stay in there for as long as you like." For a long time she sat, absently pulling on stray strands of grass poking out the flower bed.

After some thought, Amanda glanced around. She was indeed alone.

"My name is Amanda," she said in an excited breathy whisper, as if about to reveal a waterfall of secrets, "I live in that small house, there. I own it. I bought it because I thought it would be a good investment. And it is... a good investment. I'm just... I'm the only one who lives there, so it sometimes gets little," she paused, trying to think of the right word, "...quiet. No roommates, no family. I used to have a cat, but he left and moved in with a neighbor. So now I have the whole place pretty much all to myself."

Amanda looked at her watch.

"Oh. I guess I'd better get back to the kitchen. My dinner's cooking. Well, it's just a microwave dinner, but you know how it is. You don't want to let those things cook too long. But, I'll come back tomorrow, maybe you'll even have grown a little by then," she said, before walking back into her little house.

* * *

The following day was wet and dark. Amanda came out in a big green coat and crouched down next to the seed.

"Still not out yet, hey? That's ok. How was your day? Right. Mine was the same-old same-old too. Office work, you know. Nothing really changes there. I don't really... I find I don't talk to many people there..."

Amanda stopped and wrapped her raincoat tighter, as if deciding whether or not to go on. The rain tapped heavily against the hood of her coat.

"...well I except today. Today was a little different. A new person joined the team. He works in the cubicle opposite mine. He wears a suit, but it doesn't fit him properly. His name is Martin. He said hello to me in the morning but I wasn't sure he was talking to me so I pretended I didn't hear. I really wanted to say hello back, but I couldn't. It was like there was a brick wall between my brain and mouth. It's always there. I can never say what I want to."

Amanda blinked some of the stinging rain out of her eyes and stared at the empty patch of ground where the seed lay. "Right. Stupid, I know. Well I'm heading inside. I'll be back tomorrow."

* * *

With the following day the rain had subsided, but the ground was still muddy. Amanda was once again crouching next to the seed, however this time she was considerably more animated.

"...so Martin then said that HE had braces as a kid too, and knew exactly what I was talking about! And I said that was great, because I didn't know anyone who'd had to wear braces before. And then I thought to myself, 'you're teeth look nice'. BUT THEN, and this is the bit that surprised me, but then I actually said that out loud: 'you have really nice teeth,' I said. The words just popped out, I hadn't meant them too.

"And anyway, he smiled kind of awkwardly, and I wasn't sure if he was embarrassed because I'd brought up his teeth, but then, he said 'I think you have nice teeth too'.

"And I really didn't know what to say to that, so I just smiled back."

Amanda stopped for air. She was lost in her recollection.

"I think I'm going to ask him if he want's to go for lunch tomorrow," she said, making up her mind. She gently patted the muddy soil above the seed and walked back into the house.

* * *

The next day came and went, but for the first time Amanda didn't stop by and talk to the seed after work. Another day passed, and again the seed didn't have company.

Then, several days later, in the late summer dusk, two people entered the back yard.

"So this is your house? Nice garden," said Martin, looking around.

"I've never really been good at growing things" said Amanda.

Martin suddenly stopped walking. "Oh wow," he said, crouching down. "Look at that!"

Down at their feet was a tiny but brilliantly colored little red flower. Even in her own wildest expectations, Amanda had never expected the little seed to blossom so beatifully. Neither Amanda nor Martin said anything for a long time as they kneeled beside it.

"I think I'm ready for that coffee," said Amanda, breaking the silence.

And with that, she took Martin by the hand and led him into her little house.