It was somewhere in the middle of that long dry summer when we found it curling up between a crack in the asphalt, me and Bergen and Candlemas, scab-kneed and learning to hate the endless deathly blue of a cloudless sky that bred only dust, dust. Months since we’d seen anything green, since the water had been on in the tap for more than an hour, morning and night, months since the grass had done anything but crackle brown and threatening underfoot, but there it was, curled up from under the lot’s hard crust, a green so bright it hurt our eyes to look at it, leaves pressed into a tight secretive knot. We drank it in, who had grown so sere and thirsty for green, for pulsing vegetable life, and grew drunk and dizzy with the hope that this season would pass and the rains would return, like Arthur in the books or Washington in the rivers.
Bergen I remember wanted to tear it up by the roots and carry it home in a pot where she’d feed it on water filched from her own daily portion, Bergen, who was already crack-lipped and salty as a gnaw of beef jerky. “You could come over and look at it,” she swore, “I wouldn’t keep it all to myself, but what if someone comes and steps on it?” Candlemas wouldn’t let her, though, first on account of she was sweet on Bergen and didn’t want her to get any drier, and second because maybe there was some trickle of spring down under the lot that they’d missed, the unstoppable dowsers, maybe not enough for anyone to drink but enough to keep one thing in a mummified city green and alive and who were we to meddle with that?
They went back and forth on that for a while but Candlemas carried the day like always and she swore us both to secrecy and to protect our verdant treasure against God herself if necessary but all the same I slipped out that night and told the dowsers that maybe there was a creek they’d missed in their hunger for daylighting and sure enough when we went back the next day they’d torn up the lot for the water. Bergen was heartsick, of course, though neither she nor Candlemas ever pinned anything on me, but that kind of sentimentality’s nothing more than dead weight during a drought.
We found it tossed aside with the rest of the rubble and she took it home in her pot after all until her mom threw it out with the rest of the trash.