December 14, 2012
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Revolution took root in back alleys, a seedling nurtured by unsteady teenaged hands in a small plot of clay between a dumpster and a burnt-out Chevy. Fed by fire and acid rain runoff, the sapling twisted towards the sky, bloodied and brittle and clothed in brambles. Invading the homes of all dissenters, it clawed through windows and under doors and tore apart lives for the Greater Good.

Bandana-masked gardeners hastily bandaged bullet-peppered branches and fertilized the earth with broken glass and gasoline, and soon, the sapling grew sickly. Blackened leaves curled in on themselves, and the would-be anarchists scattered, believing their prize to be lost. Within a week, the seedling was reduced to a running strip of pixelated text beneath the local newscaster, and, from there, faded into obscurity.

Winter shifted into spring, then spring to summer and summer to autumn to winter again. The moon spun round the earth and the earth round the sun, and one day a child chased a baseball behind a dumpster and underneath a burnt-out Chevy. As she stood, red stitching stark against white leather and ebony skin, her gaze was drawn inexorably onward ‘til it fell upon a flash of pale green straddling the shadows and the sunlight.

The child fell to her knees and gently cleared away the rubble, revealing a frail sprout shivering in the cracked topsoil. She smiled and beckoned, and revealed to her friends the life she had found in the dirt. There, a pact was signed- not in blood, but in laughter and in grass stains, and in whispered secrets behind grubby hands.

Every day from that day forth, the child and her friends would visit the plot of red clay. They neither fed nor watered the plant, but loved it and let nature run its course. Soon, the seedling grew into a lovely young willow with bark as white as a flash of teeth behind dimples and strawberry lips.

The willow grew, slowly but surely, spreading its branches high above condemned houses and reaching its roots to bedrock. People began to take notice of the tree; before long, families would travel from miles around to marvel at its beauty and strength.

When the child’s father heard news of his daughter’s tree, he sent his sons to tear it down. They came with hatchets and hand grenades and marched down the street with metal-toed boots and lead in their veins. But the people linked arms, and sang a hymn in many tongues, and their voices healed the brothers’ bleeding hearts. Bodies renewed in flesh and bone, the boys joined the congregation, and their father found himself diminished.

As years passed, the willow grew as tall and as wide and as steady as a mountain. Enormous snowy roots cracked black asphalt, and from those cracks grew wild poppies. Skyscrapers and megamalls, long since abandoned, crumbled to the ground, and a forest grew in their wake. Rivers ran clear, and sunlight fell through wet leaves and dappled the rolling hills below. Contentment spread among the people like dandelion spores in spring air. In the shells of old buildings, the people established theatres and public libraries; they built concert halls and hospitals, and they returned to college campuses and ancient cathedrals. Farms and botanical gardens sprouted from factory ruins, and families lived whole and healthy.

The child aged and had children of her own. She read to them every evening, and through her stories they learned of the willow that was their home, and of Rome and Constantinople, and of the suffering city that fell before them. They learned of the change that grew from the earth, of the inevitable cycle of years and days, seasons and civilizations.

And never, not once, did anyone cry “Revolution.”

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