Tomato Seeds
JK Hannah Greenberg

On no occasion had I doubted the importance of teaching critical thinking, so I felt no exculpation when my school’s students survived the nuclear event. They’d learned to navigate disasters. 

Regardless, before the blight, we college administrators apprehended dogmatic rascals and segregated them from other pupils. Nowadays, we educators neither imprison nor ghettoize; ideological restrictions have become ill-afforded luxuries. 

Presently, we academics serve as horticulture mentors. Civilization’s continuation relies on plants. Windowsill beans, crucifers, even radishes, quickly grow into nutrients. Raised bed nasturtium, borage, and sage flowers are both food and medicine as are grow-anywhere “weeds” like dandelion, comfrey, and nettle.  I’ve became a community organizer. My campus, in turn, benefits from adequate gardens and peaceful coexistence. In my village of thousands of young and of hundreds of old people, however, we average only five births per year. Along with clear skies, reliable water, uncontaminated soil, and animal life, human reproductive prowess has become rare. Thus, when that strange, tomato seed-carrying madonna arrived, tension accompanied her. 

More exactly, when she trudged to our gates, Jeremy, Samson, and I were standing guard. Jeremey, a former co-ed, looked hungry. Samson, a former dean, appeared ravenous. 

The newbie seemed neither brilliant nor gorgeous. I gaged her as shrewd as she’d successfully gestated and then nurtured an infant in this clime. To wit, whereas only ninety or so of our precinct’s dwellers initially knew of her existence, two dozen men and three women already offered to share their quarters.  The woman discarded their proposals, choosing, instead, to bunk in the campus infirmary with me. As the school’s president, I was presumed to avoid liaisons.  Time passed. That gal slept with Jeremey, with Samson, and with a few dozen other men. She took drugs that warded against STDs, but not birth control. Nevertheless, she failed to conceive again. It’s not just females who have become impotent. 

In the interim, she raised tomatoes. Some members of our population believe tomato flesh kills microorganisms. Others believe digestive disorders can be quieted by the fruit’s lycopene. Still others crave tomatoes’ sweet/sour/savory taste. Neither the woman nor her daughter wanted for comestibles, blankets, secondhand clothing, or basins. 

Before she left my campus to seek and exploit fertile men, my roommate gifted me with a handful of nightshade seeds. She told me that her child’s father had been killed by jealous ronins and that her sampling of our colony had left her wanting. 

I frowned while examining her conferred riches. Yesteryear, such doctrinaire rhetoric would have been grounds for expulsion. Today, though, such words merely prognosticated hope. Because of that wanderer’s vision, my subordinates had regained interest in trysting. I counted among the pregnant.

First published: May 2018
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