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a girl grows in a garden. she is with phlox and impatiens. she is in the shade of rhododendron, at the edge of lawn. they do not speak her language, but soothe with collective sucking of food from dark soil. all-cells lit by sun. each glittering with the same dew.

after her mother died, her father planted her, because he felt the garden would look after her better than he could. he took her little brother and planted him elsewhere. he said that one day all three would live together again, and then he left. 16 years had passed.

‘i’ve got to make a decision’, she said to phlox, who drew goodness from the earth. ‘either I become a plant forever, and lose my human memories, or I unroot myself and try walking in the world again.’

she sat quiet, feeling blossoms wilting, browning, and falling to the ground; leaves bending to the sun; hearing shoots heave soil aside and stems split with pressure of new buds.

after some time she leaned forward and placed her hands on the warm ground, both palms splayed wide on its prickling surface. she leaned forward so the weight of her body fell into her hands and started to push down. she pushed against the ground with every shred of strength-light-and-water she could muster, causing tiny insects to flee and driving blades of grass into the soil. gradually her lower body started to emerge. clumps of earth lifting and knocking neighbouring plants aside. earth surging up! earth falling down! then she was on her knees, thighs pale and dirt-covered. with a grunt she pushed again, and now her calves and feet came, angular and jellied, to the air. next she pushed back, gathering her body and sitting over her haunches, feeling the hot earth press up through her soles. without letting go of the ground, she slowly raised her ass, straightening her legs as far as she could, then squatting down again. she repeated this a number of times, practicing. squat, ass in the air, straightening the legs, squat, arse in the air, and so on.

then she kneeled again, legs folded and torso straight. she took her hands to her lap and closed her eyes. the plants watched aghast as, swift as a bird, she tucked her toes, pushed her weight back, and rolled onto her feet. in an impossible movement, she thrust away from the ground and straightened her body to stand. the garden reeled. in their ecstasy the plants became even more still.

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