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Grow Up

Emily Barker's work has appeared in Marathon Literary Review and Jeopardy Magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @emilybarker804.

I had chosen a peach tree like most of the women had, but not for the same reasons. I didn't think of it as the only feminine thing I could leave behind, a monument to my sex organs. Instead I just liked the fruit. It was ripe and sweet, and even though it would only feed insects, I wanted the best for them.
There was no anesthesia when they cut me open to plant the sapling inside, but the radiation's got me so weary, it hurts about as much as period cramps you learn to ignore. There's a movement of women and men, burning any of these trees they can find, or anyone performing these surgeries, or anyone who looks like they might be. They consider it an insult for uteruses to be used in this way. I see it as an honor. That I can have some use.
In about eight months, if I live that long, the roots will have pierced all the way through me. In the destroyed ground, they'll reach out seeking food and be met with acid rain. But my body will sustain them enough to survive. Ladybugs and scorpions will unfurl from the peach tree's bark. The planet will have life again.
Doc says not to worry about the burners. Eventually their energy will run out. Trees outlive even human anger.
I will die just like the burners and the ocean and the birds. This tree growing in my womb is a child of the new world. I close my eyes and give this life my love. The roots dig into me, so surely. Around me the land has turned to coal dust, but inside me there is warmth.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 19th, 2021
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