Ted (merovingian) wrote,

Response and Responsibility

My local hardware store has a little sapling out front. It's just a tiny thing, thin and fragile but healthy-looking. The first time I went to that store I put a little Chinese coin on one of the tiny branches.
The next time, when I ducked over there to buy light bulbs, I tied a ribbon on the sapling. The next time, I strung up a little silver bracelet.

Then, a week later, when I needed a stepladder, I walked to the store, and found that the sapling was festooned with decorations. Neighbors and customers had continued the trend. There were watches, rings, little statues, plastic toys, little flashing LED lights, badges and balloons, origami and macrame, drawings and doodads, hologram decals and bright paper flowers made from painted dollar bills. The sapling sparkled in the sunlight and swayed at the border between tacky and spectacular.

I asked the clerk of the hardware store about it.

"Yeah," he said, "We're actually worried it will break under the weight."

On my way out, I braced the sapling with a stick.

The next time I returned, the sapling was still healthy and well-decorated. It was augmented with a complex hydraulic system, supported by a sturdy yet graceful titanium framework, cybernetically enhanced and genetically modified.

"Hey, I know you," said the sapling as I approached, with a sweet tenor voice, rich and wise "You're the one who gave me that Chinese coin!"
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