Author: Bryan Pastor

“Daddy’s eating carrots. Daddy’s eating carrots.” The children chided Maurin as he walked past them, crunching loudly on the long thin strip of vegetable. He smiled with mock sincerity flashing a smile filled with orange chunks. The children erupted in either laughter or disgust, which he let follow him as he left for his nightly rounds of the compound.
He always ended this daily inspection at his garden, a sparse square of soil he had cultivated over the last half dozen years. He plopped himself down cross legged to begin his visible inspection of the crop; three rows of thin green carrot stalks, two vibrant crimson rows of beets and a mass of leafy green lettuce. The package of seeds, that he traded with a less then reputable merchant for a pair of high-quality binders, had sprouted into a row of neat balls fringed in ruffle.
Jayna crept within arms length, prepared to pounce, when Maurin rolled to his left, sprang back, and began to tickle his youngest into submission. The pair giggled and played, being sure to avoid roughhousing too close to the garden. Exhausted she collapsed into his lap, panting, her breath all but gone in a torrent of laughter.
“Why do you eat them?” she asked, the ulterior purpose of her visit finally revealed.
“Because they taste good.” He replied.
Maurin smiled at his daughter, tracing his fingers over the triplet of ports nested in her forearm.
“There was a time, long before the long march through the stars when all people had their meals by chewing their food. They raised animals, they grew crops.” He pointed to garden. “They foraged among trees for morsels. Having found these, they applied heat and knives and transformed the different foods into better foods. Then they sat around their tables and shared their meals in a ritual of togetherness, where they talked about the day’s events.”
“I always talk to Fenner when I’m feeding.” Jayna chimed in. “I would talk to you if you ever joined us.” Maurin gave his daughter an insincere stern look and began to tickle her again. She flailed about in protest. An arm, no longer under her control leapt out toward the garden, brushing a single carrot top. She froze immediately, fearing capital punishment. Tears welled into her eyes as she pulled her limbs into her chest as tightly as she could.
“You are more important than a forest of carrots my little turnip.” Maurin soothed his daughter, beginning to rock her, assuring her that there was no anger. He stared as this daughter, putting on his kindest smile and would have begun to tickle her again had not a pale rose blossomed on the far horizon. He placed a single kiss on her head and told her to hustle off to bed.
There would be talk tonight among the elders, the war was getting too close, they couldn’t continue to stay neutral.
For the moment, Maurin sat and stared at his little garden, finally deciding that the lettuce was ready to harvest, curious what it would taste like when he mixed the sereman seed oil with the yeast ferment to dress it.