The aroma hit the clerk even behind ¾ of an inch of bulletproof glass. It was the aroma of decay, of deep rich soil as if she drowning in a swimming pool of mulch. It made her eyes water and she had the impulsive to scrub her skin raw as if that were the only way to get rid of the stench.
From the other side of the glass slid a moth eaten burlap bag, heavy and loose. She dared not look into it until the muffled voice on the other side coughed. It was one of those wet coughs that she imagined one only heard in the TB wards of turn of the century sanitariums. Hesitantly she untied the thin leather thong that kept the bag closed and upended the contents on her counter. She fully expected dead disgusting whatnot to settle between her adding machine and money till. To her surprise there were 20 large gold coins. “Here now, I don’t want that just laying around now, just give me my receipt and I’ll be on my way.” The voice had a recognizable, yet far off accent. Something she had heard on an old radio program perhaps.
Amanda French counted up the coins, 22 in total there were. There were no marking on the coins. She couldn’t tell if they were newly minted or older than Christendom. She was unsure of what to do. The man standing on the other side of the glass leaned down to the trough that separated the spaces and whispered in a conspirator voice “The other girl just puts the coins in my safety box and gives me a receipt for them. It’s the seeds that I need you to use.”
“Seeds?” Amanda almost swept her hand across the counter to clean the small seeds and twigs that accompanied the coins. “Seeds? What exactly do you want me to do with the seeds?”
“Why, they’re for you,” He paused, stood up to get a good look at her name plate and returned to the trough, “You’re to take them home and plant them. Tonight, under the new moon. Tis my gift for being so helpful“. Just then a scrawny twig like hand snaked through the trough and snacked the receipt from Amanda’s had. “Remember. New Moon, tonight.” And just like that the odd crooked man spun around and disappeared. Amanda carefully put the 6 tiny seeds in a tissue and put them in her purse. For the rest of the day when her mind wandered she thought something, like a watermelon or squash was growing in her purse. Of course, whenever she looked nothing was out of place, just an added tissue with a couple of seeds in her purse.
Amanda did what she was told and just before midnight that night, she went into her parent’s back yard and planted the seeds, still wrapped in tissue, between the oak trees. These were the trees her dad used to sling his summer hammock and nap away every Saturday afternoon the year before he died. The seeds wouldn’t bring her father back. Wouldn’t bring any of the pets buried in the yard back either. She knew that the seeds were something though. Something she hadn’t had or felt in many a year. Hope.