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Toothpicks in Avocado Pits.

The Yes Book Blog

Toothpicks in Avocado Pits.

Jill Cooper

I can still see it, the clear café glass sitting on the butcher block counter in our kitchen: balanced on the rim of the glass, suspended in mid-air. I would always come closer. What did my mother see in it? What made this avocado pit so special that it got to stay perched on our counter while the others were quickly tossed in the trash?

Day after day I would return, peering into the glass until finally I would see it. A little crack in the pit, then a white knob, then that knob stretching out towards the water. Often that is all that would happen and the pit would join the others in the trash.

But one day a crack appeared at the top. There was already a root, white and thin, curling around inside the glass. Could this new crack mean that this pit would last longer than the others? Would it escape the trash? Another knob appeared, this time not a long, white tip, but green. Green leaves uncurled from the pit, stretching upward and toward the light from the windows.

“Look, Peter! My plant, it sprouted!” my mother cried with joy. “Isn’t this so exciting?”

My father’s look was not one of excitement, more of wry amusement.

“So, Sandy, is there something you need to tell me? After all, the last two times…”

“Peter! That doesn’t mean anything.”

My sister and I raised our heads from our books; eyes swiveled rapidly toward our parents. Waiting. There was a secret here we were sure, one we hoped we’d hear. But no more words came. We waited and waited. Patiently. Nothing. Then my father turned as if pulled by the weight of our stares. Met our eyes. Smiled.

“Why does it matter that the avocado pit sprouted, Dad? Why do you care?” my seven-year old sister blurted, curiosity driving the words that came tumbling out over each other.

His eyes crinkled and a slow smile spread over his face as he reached out and tousled her hair.

“I was just teasing your mother,” he said. “You see, every time an avocado pit has sprouted before, we have gotten a little sprout too …”

The silence lengthened as my sister and I sat there, wheels spinning in our brains, trying to figure out what he meant.

“Little sprout and Mom, little sprout and Mom,” I thought to myself, searching for the connection. Then I flashed to health class the week before.

“Oh!” I shouted. “You think Mom’s pregnant!”

“Yay!” my little sister cheered. “I finally get to be a big sister!”

“No. No,” my mother said firmly. “There is no baby on the way.”

“Drat,” muttered my sister.

“We’ve got two wonderful daughters,” my mother hugged us. “What more could we want?”

For my sister the answer clearly was a younger brother or sister, as she closely watched my mother’s stomach for weeks. But nothing happened with my mother.

The avocado pit I had assumed would eventually end up in the trash with all the others continued to grow and thrive. The stem lengthened and thickened as three leaves became five leaves became ten. . . My mother carefully and gently added water, moved the pit to a bigger cup, and finally one day I found her out on our deck surrounded by spades, soil, and pot transplanting the avocado pit to its new home on the back deck.

At first it looked small, puny, and sad, a little green stem in that big, round pot. But over time it grew and grew until the pot was dwarfed by the avocado tree we now could see through our kitchen window, stretching out its wide leaves in fog, rain, and sun.

It never produced a single avocado, but my mother loved it anyway. We would often see her out there, watering it faithfully. When she was not shepherding us through homework, ballet, and gymnastics, she would take time to check its soil, look at the leaves, and make sure it was healthy. Then, plant tended, she would come inside and start into her evening. Some nights all four of us would sit around the dinner table and laugh until we cried at some private family joke. Other nights, my sister or I would retreat to our room and my mother would seek us out, settle in on our bed, and listen; hugging and holding us as the tears poured out and her warm embrace filled the hole created by the betrayal of a classmate or a boyfriend.

Through it all, the avocado tree was there, a prominent feature in graduation pictures, wedding rehearsal pictures, and pictures with the grandkids, a testament to my mother’s attentive love and care.

Despite my father’s prediction, no other child followed the seed’s sprouting. There were just the four of us, my parents and their two girls. And that, as it turned out, was ok. As my mother had said, we were perfect just the way we were.

by Samantha Munnecke

Samantha Munnecke lives in Olympia, Washington with her husband and two daughters. Although she has been writing stories since she could hold a pencil, this is her first story to be published.