DAVID AND THE TWO
BROWN, WITHERED THINGS
"Here is your present, David!" said
weird Aunt Sally, handing me a small, brown paper bag as we all
sat in our living room. I opened the bag and reached inside. My
hand wrapped around a odd, lumpy shape, bumping against another
object as it did so. Pulling both of them out of the bag, I stood
there with two dead-looking brown things in my palm.
"This is my present?" I asked, looking
blankly at Aunt Sally.
"Yes. Do you know what they are?"
Mother's sister asked in a cheery voice.
"I haven't a clue," I answered.
"They're daffodil bulbs!" The words
burst out of Aunt Sally's mouth. She smiled brightly, as though
I would be thrilled by the news. Aunt Sally was-well, different.
She lived on a farm in Pennsylvania and came to visit us every winter.
"This year," she continued speaking,
"I thought to myself, David's big enough for something he can take
care of, not just a toy."
"Well, thank you," I mouthed dutifully.
This was just too strange.
"May I go out and play now, mom?"
I asked, to change the subject.
"All right, David," said mom. "Stay
nearby, though. We're having dinner in an hour."
I left the daffodil bulbs on top
of my dresser and that was where they stayed for a month. I would
stare at them every morning as I got my socks out of the top drawer.
How could there be any life in those things? Even if they had been
alive, they'd probably died sitting there. They had been a gift,
though. It seemed impolite to just throw them away.
One sunny Saturday, the weather suddenly
felt almost like spring. Maybe that was where my energy came from.
I decided I owed it to mom's sister to at least stick the bulbs
in a pot.
I found a clay flower pot in the
garage and brushed the cobwebs off. I rode my bike to the drugstore
for a bag of potting soil, shook some earth into the pot, and buried
the two withered things in it. Then I poured in a big glass of water
and left the bulbs outside by the front door.
Every morning as I left for school
I peered at the pot. Weeks went by. I saw no sign of life. It was
true, then: I must have killed them. Surprisingly, that felt a little
sad. I had enjoyed planting those things. I wasn't mad at them any
more for not being something else.
One morning in early spring a tiny,
green sprout greeted me as I came out the door. Probably a weed,
I thought. But no--that lovely green seedling looked confident,
like it belonged! It was no weed.
Two days later a second sprout joined
it. I was the proud father of twins! The
days passed. My babies grew. There's nothing to worry about now,
I thought one rainy day, looking up at the sky. The daffodil plants
were getting plenty of sun and plenty of moisture. What could go
I looked back down at the flower
pot and suddenly noticed it was bone dry! The plants looked haggard.
Gazing up again in horror, I saw
that our roof stuck out two feet from the house. It had kept every
drop of water away from the pot since that first glass!
I rushed inside and filled a big
can at the tap.
"Here, guys!" I told them out loud.
"I hope it's not too late."
All day I felt like a dad in the
waiting room at the hospital. I held my breath coming up our walkway
The daffodil plants looked happy!
The crisis had passed. I sure wasn't ever going to forget to water
As April ended the daffodils were
each more than a foot tall, though the second never quite caught
up to her older brother. I found myself wondering when the flowers
The very next morning, though, I
noticed that the taller daffodil had developed some kind of bruise.
A day later its sister had one too.
"We've come so far!" I said to my
plants. "I can't lose you now to some blight!"
Is it bad enough that I should take
them in to the plant store, I wondered? I wrestled with that question
for two days. Early the third morning I poked my head out the door.
Two big, healthy daffodil blossoms, as yellow as the sun,
seemed to wave joyfully to me in the breeze.
The flowers had burst out right where
those "bruises" had been. They hadn't been bruises after all!
Oh, Aunt Sally, I thought. You knew!
I wish you could see! You've truly given me one of the best presents
I've ever received. And I went inside to get my camera.