Twelve seeds carefully planted into the earth. Depth measured with fingertip. Sliding one by one into private incubator. Cover them gently. Diligently water.

Wait.

That year, spring turned into a summer hothouse. Growing things jostled for space in the yard as riot fever spread throughout the world and the grass and the weeds and the lettuce I bought in its infancy behaved like Vancouverites and Londoners and the stifled masses of the Muslim world, pushing and shoving and raising fists up to the sky.

My twelve seeds remained placid, quietly hiding underground.

One morning I noticed three timid shoots excusing themselves out of the ground. They took their time unfolding to tall lankiness, then swayed in the wind like headless Hawaiian dancing girls. Only three out of twelve raised up, shrugging, their many arms folded at the elbows, in a gesture that said: “It is what it is.”

I considered replacing them with a fancy, full, flowery shrub, but didn’t. They were left on their own to do what they would, which was grow and stand, impassively enduring the wrath of the sun.

This morning I went out to find my three soldiers standing just a little bit taller in their trench. One of them had grown a red beret. The two others, still headless, flanked him, saluting.

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