I never worried much about cutting myself. I was a practiced woodcarver my whole life, and the Blend wasn’t going to keep me from my passion. Besides, when you worried about the danger of a knife and act overcautious, that is usually when you mess up. But if you just relax and trust your muscles, nothing ever goes wrong.

 

Today I was working on a small toy rocking horse. The classics usually sold better, especially now since any profession involving a blade was a high-risk job. I had the image of the crazy horse in my mind and was still working on the general shape of the toy. This part of the cut was a no-brainer. I just carved off more and more wood until it fits snugly in my hand. Then I would work on the details.

 

I call it a crazy horse because what sane-minded horse would smile while its legs were fixed to a slab of wood, only able to rock towards its goal? I know, I know. It’s a toy. The pretend horse is pretending to gallop. But I could never think so abstractly for long. Perhaps that was why I was so good at creating realistic carvings. Once I had the image in my mind, nothing could stop me from realizing it.

 

Knock. Push. Brush. Knock. Cut. Blow. Over and over. I sank into the rhythm and found peace. I knew I was special to be able to calm myself so easily. So few people had any peace these days. What with the remains of World War III’s bloodshed which led to rebellions and government upheaval. Resource hoarding was probably the biggest concern of the everyday folk. Lack of food and gas was felt first by the people.

 

The only reason humanity hadn’t fallen into disrepair entirely was because of the Blend. While war was a horrible thing, I was always amazed at school how one fight could lead to so many good things. Surplus jobs, loyalty, a refocusing of priorities. War brought out the best and worst in people.

 

But we forgot the impact we had on the environment. The Blend gave us a common enemy and our wars ended quite abruptly. Oh, the anger and distrust were still there. But those plans were put on the back burner. Now all anyone thought about was how to survive the plants.

 

I put the almost horse down to give my full attention to my thoughts. I stared out the window and glared at the red grass. It had started in Istanbul. A particularly bloody day had changed the world. Some people said plants were conscious beings and had been fed up with humanity. Others said it was natural, like a rose changing color because green food coloring had been added to its water. Of course, others blamed radiation and who could blame them. Earth had become an apocalyptic nightmare.

 

Whatever the cause, the plants of the world had taken the blood from our fields and it had changed them. A single drop of blood would now draw them. The vines and roots of nearby foliage would come speedily growing, destroying everything in its path to consume the spilled blood and its source. I shivered as I remember the videos I used to watch. There were plenty of them. Fire only angered the plants and started new rampages. Forced droughts, shade, and withholding of nutrients was the only safe way to kill them.

 

But when we succeeded in killing all the plants, how would we or the animals of the Earth survive then? The life cycle started with simple plants, and perhaps it would end things as well.

 

I stood up and stretched from the prolonged brooding. I grabbed my keys and my watering can. It took me two minutes to reach my shed outside and ten to unbolt all of my locks. There was only one thing inside this shed, and I could not afford for it to get out.

 

I flipped the light switch and gazed at my single lily, finally blooming with red leaves, red roots, red stem, and red petals. But if you looked closer, you would find white lining the edges of the petals. It was a small thing, but I hoped that the little bit of white was proof that the plants could be nurtured back to how they used to be. I’m sure there were whole labs doing better studies than I of rehabilitating the plants of the world. But by raising my own flower, I found hope for the world once more.

 

I watered my lily and flipped through my botanist book once more to try and determine what kind of lily it was. I thought of carving a wooden lily, but knew it would never sell to my clientele. But perhaps, I could just keep that one for myself. I could keep it next to my deadly one in hopes the wooden one would inspire some friendly growth. I laughed at the thought. While laughing, I dropped the magazine and fumbled to grab it. I jabbed my elbow into the wall and grunted from the bruise.

 

I reminded myself to be more careful. I couldn’t afford to be a klutz living in the midst of so many dangerous plants. I was once more to be glad I was a man and didn’t have to go to ridiculous lengths to protect myself every month. But it wouldn’t matter if I stubbed myself on a nail. I steadied myself and carefully cleaned up. I noticed the floor getting a bit scratchy and determined it needed to be sanded soon. I also needed more corner paddings for the outside steps. Baby proofing products were also in high demand.

 

I began to carefully re-lock my shed up tight and slipped on the very last one. I felt a slight pain on my finger and felt like a fool. I prayed it wasn’t what I feared and looked at my index finger. There was indeed a slim cut on the end of it and I blew on it in hopes that it wouldn’t bleed. But the red came anyway. It was the tiniest of drops, but that was all it took.

 

Everyone had told me that my wood carving career would be the one to undo me. And of course, that is what everyone would think had happened to me. But these days, it was the daily accidental missteps that killed. I looked up and found red tendrils already beginning to push their way past my locked door. I backed up in shock and denial. A large flower bloomed in front of my face and I noticed that the petals were completely red. And that was the last thing I saw before darkness overtook me and I was eaten by the very lily I had been tending to.

 

Photo by Esteban Trivelli

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