Once, long before the air was breathed and the stars’ light was new, there was a vast, dark field; barren and cold. It was overseen by an ancient being who watched and loved and waited and watched. One particular night, three extraordinary seeds were called into its outstretched palm. They laid there, expectant and held their breath.
In the morning, the ancient pushed each seed into the field, one by one. Its strong, fat forefinger drove them deep into the ground, where it left them to brush and cover them with the earth. There they lay, silent and still.
A million moons floated by before the being returned. It carried an enormous, dripping watering can, heavy and light as a cloud, which twisted slowly around its hand and clung and swirled up its arm. It stopped where the seeds were and rained its water onto the earth, and the water seeped down until it reached the seeds.
Deep within their case, they felt the words of the ancient. “It’s time. Crack open!”
“What?” the first seed said. “You must be joking! There is no way I will break and let the outside dark in.” And he curled uptight and small. The other two seeds felt the words and slowly swelled until – ‘split‘ – ‘pop‘ – their seed cases broke open. It hurt – just for a second. It ached as they crawled and broke through the surface. But then it felt good to stretch out.
The being left, and a million moons floated by.
Ages later, the ancient returned. This time with a can the size of a sun, bright and hot and baking. It was held over the seeds and the being ,wordless, spoke: “It’s time. Reach.”
The first seed did nothing. Its case had thickened and hardened too much to hear. The others listened to the call from deep within and the second seed thought, “This is too hard. I’ve ached enough!” It tried and could, but content with a little, popped out only one small leaf. The third seed reached and groaned with effort and by the end of that day had grown several substantial inches and leaves. Both seedlings felt a quickening. The second, a little – the third much more – as the chlorophyll did its job and nourished. The second had barely enough whilst the third, was sated.
The ancient left and moons floated by.
Yet again, some time had passed, and the being returned. This time, it came with an iridescent hose and spouted an arched rainbow over the place of the seeds calling, “It’s time. Stretch up and Out.” The first seed did not hear, for it had been eaten by a rat who thought itself lucky to come across it. With its one leaf, the second did not have the energy for it. But the third held its breath and heaved and stretched and stretched and heaved.
The effort was almost too much. But slowly and magnificently, a beautiful sunflower head, the size of a planet, unfurled, tingled and quivered in the fresh air. It felt glorious as its face shone and reflected the sun.
The ancient left never to return to that place, and moons floated by.
The plants waited together for a long time. Soon enough, the second began to droop, unable to sustain itself. It withered and died slowly and surely, leaving the sunflower alone in the field.
Moons floated by.
The sun began to set at the dawn of a new day. The glorious sunflower, too, at last, began to wither and droop. It was so tired and full. Just as its heavy head could hold up no longer, it heard a call of love and felt the touch of a palm that it remembered from a long time ago.
And a million seeds burst forth from its face to fill every inch and every corner of that once dark field.
And in the near distance, the ancient being watched with love and waited and watched.