‘Look,’ whispered Ulmus ‘Look, its sprouting.’
Sure enough the little thing beneath their gaze started to unfurl itself. Barely beginning to bloom it was only a sprig not even yet a sprout. Ulmus regarded it with incredulity and reverence.
‘Is this the first bloom you’ve seen?’ Dr Quercus smiled bemusedly studying his colleague’s features.
Ulmus nodded silently.
Dr Quercus chuckled, ‘You’ll soon get used to it. I remember seeing my first growth. Magnificent.’
Ulmus was still to fascinated to articulate a reply. The sprig had rapidly become a sprout, perhaps even a spurt.
‘Why do they have to be grown in vases? Ulmus finally mustered.
‘Oh, they weren’t always,’ Dr Quercus replied now prodding the mushy pink compost that set the thing. ‘Once they were grown within a chamber, one inside another but of course that method is lost to time.’
‘Will it grow much bigger? Ulmus asked.
‘Oh yes, hopefully. At one time, they could reach about one third of our height but now so many die young. It is difficult to maintain a good harvest. But culturally significant, don’t you think?’ mused Dr Quercus ‘We wouldn’t want to lose this species.’
‘Oh no,’ Ulmus muttered still dotingly transfixed on the little thing.
‘It was the change in climate that made them extinct. Still we preserve what we can.’
‘Were we responsible for that change in climate?’
‘Oh undoubtedly.’ Dr Quercus said gravely. ‘Still there is no use dwelling on the ways of the past. Look at the advancements and benefits our technology has brought to this place.’
The little sprout began to stir uneasily in its setting. Wriggling and then curling its boughs. Suddenly a mighty howl broke emanated from at little knot in at the head of the sprout. It’s echoing cries wracked Ulmus painfully yet Dr Quercus appeared unperturbed. The thing began to ooze liquid from and flail awkwardly.
‘Dr Quercus?’ Ulmus asked tentatively as the good doctor made efforts to soothe and nurture the distressed little seedling. ‘What were these things grown in before we grew them in vases? Before we were here? What was the name of the chamber they sprouted in naturally?’
As the seedling settled Dr Quercus watered its mushy compost, and without turning to face Ulmus replied, ‘It was called a womb.’
by Hayley Rutherford
(prompts: vase, ungodly hour)