Nothing was coming up. Hank had said casually that nothing ever would, but of course Kenny hadn’t wanted to believe him. Of course his apple seed would come up! It just needed some time!
Kenny rested his chin on the dirt, staring at the little mound before him, inside of which lay an apple seed. He had planted this tiny seed after consuming the fruit which increased it and several others. He could have planted any one of those tiny seeds, but this one had been his favorite. Small, brown and slightly wrinkled.
Hank’s footsteps crunched along the gravel path that wound throughout the backyard. “Kenny, are you still watching that mound of dirt? That seed’s never gonna come up, you know.”
Kenny raised his head and sighed languidly. “It will.”
Hank was the one to sigh now. Seating himself beside his little brother, he poked a finger at the mound. “See, it doesn’t have anything to drink. It’s just going to die.”
Kenny dribbled a bit of orange juice from his cup onto the mound. “There. Now it has something to drink.”
Hank rolled his eyes. “What are you trying to do, make it an apple/orange tree?”
Kenny stared at his older brother. “You think that’ll happen?”
“Naw. Anyways, you won’t be able to get even a plain apple tree.”
“Because you can’t get it from that one little seed from your apple, Kenny. I’ve tried it when I was your age. Now I’m grown-up and know better.”
Kenny frowned. “Wish I was six already.”
Hank got to his feet. “You will be, in two years.”
Two years. Practically a lifetime. Kenny put his chin back on the dirt. “I think I’ll watch for my apple tree some more while I wait.”
“You’ll lie there for two years?” Hank asked slowly.
“Yes,” Kenny said stiffly, gathering together all his dignity. “What, couldn’t you be able to wait that long?”
“I... I don’t really know for sure,” admitted Hank, a slight tinge of respect in his voice. A moment, and it was gone as he said, “Well, you can lie there for two years if you want, but I’m going to be in the parade tonight.”
Kenny jumped to his feet. “I forgot! Today’s Independence Day Eve!”
“That’s only for Christmas, Kenny,” Hank said knowledgeably. “Just call today the 3rd. That’s what mama does.”
Kenny licked the dust off the upper part of his chin with his tongue. “Let’s go see if we can get dressed up yet!” He took off running and beat Hank to the house, which was very satisfactory.
“Is it time for the parade to start? When can we get on the sundae?” Kenny asked anxiously, hopping from one foot to the other. His taekwondo outfit was tickling his neck. In the distance a grumble caught his ears, but he ignored it.
“Kenny, it’s not a sundae we’re riding on, it’s a float,” Hank said in his most patient tone of voice. “And we don’t start for another half hour.”
“Oh.” Kenny stared around at the colored flatbeds and trailers of trucks that were being mysteriously called ‘floats.’ There was so much to look at when you were in a parade! Fire trucks, girls with weird looking dresses and lots of makeup sitting on the tops of open cars, old army jeeps, bands and lots and lots of flags.
Kenny smiled at the float he and his taekwondo friends were to ride in. It was a flatbed with lows sides so the kids wouldn’t fall off, decorated with flags, banners and their taekwondo symbol. Everything was all red, white and blue.
Kenny stood as tall as he could, staring at a huge American flag above him. “Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light? What so proudly we hail, at the twilight’s last greeting. Who’s--”
“Kenny, be quiet!” Hank poked him vigorously. “Someone’s starting to talk.”
Maybe it’s time to start!” Kenny said breathlessly.
“...So, I’m very, very sorry to disappoint all of you,” the man was saying. “But I’m afraid we’re canceling the parade. The storm is just too big and moving too rapidly toward us to try and continue with our festivities this evening. So, I say goodnight to you all, I’m very sorry, and have a great 4th of July.”
A disappointed groan running through the gathered people, everything suddenly began to be dismantled and taken down. The taekwondo leader, Mr. Chu, waved his arms. “Okay, kids, get onto the flatbed. I’ll take you home now.”
Kenny was crestfallen. Clambering awkwardly onto the flatbed, he sat gloomily beside the other saddened kids as Mr. Chu began to drive slowly through the dispersing parade people.
“Mama and daddy!” Kenny said suddenly. “What if they don’t know the parade has been canceled?”
“They’ll know,” Hank said glumly beside him. “Gee whiz, what a rotten evening.”
Kenny sighed. Glancing up at the sky, his eyes took in ginormous black clouds and a huge flash of lightning. Rain suddenly began to pour, soaking them all in a matter of seconds. Into his lap floated a little puddle of water, in the middle of which was a soggily wrapped piece of candy.
“Can we just eat all the candy we brought ourselves?” Kenny wondered, poking the floating sweet.
“I don’t know,” Hank yawned.
“Mr. Chu’s telling us to pull the tarp over ourselves,” a kid near them shouted of the noise of the ruin and thunder. Once the crackling canvas was in place, everyone was very quiet, each trying to deal with the disappointment of a canceled parade. The ride home seemed to take hours.
The 4th of July came and went pleasantly enough, but five days after the canceled parade, Kenny still felt bad about it. It would have been the first parade he had ever been in. Now he would have to wait all the way until next year.
The backyard was still soggy from the rain that had come off and on for the past few days as Kenny walked around through the grass. Hank was up in the treehouse playing spies with his friend Lynn, but Kenny didn’t feel like joining them. He plodded through the grass, trying to think of something cheerful. Mama had said that God worked all things together for good for those who loved Him, but Kenny still didn’t see anything good about the rained out parade.
A flash of green in the midst of a bare plot of dirt caught his eye. Kenny went forward to investigate. Dropping to his knees on the muddy grass, he stared at the tiny green shoot. Could it possibly be...
“MAMA!” Kenny howled so loudly that mama came crashing out of the house at top speed and Hank and Lynn nearly came crashing right out of the treehouse. Thankfully, they weren’t too startled that they weren't able to grab for the ladder just in time.
“Kenny! What is it?” Mama panted, running over.
“Mama, is that an apple tree?” Kenny could barely wait for her to answer.
“Let me see...” Mama peered at the tiny plant and thought for a moment. “Yes, it does appear to be one. I wonder where it came from?”
Kenny stared at the tiny tree, his heart filling with joy. “Mama, it’s the seed I planted! It came up!”
“I can’t believe it!” Hank whispered incredulously from behind his little brother. “It actually grew!”
“It must have been all the rain we got, Kenny,” mama smiled, her eyes twinkling. “All things for good, remember?”
Kenny nodded. “I remember what you said, mama! The rain kept my seed from dying!” He touched the tiny leaves gently, caressingly.
“Um, Kenny?” Hank coughed, putting a hand on Kenny’s shoulder in a friendly gesture. “Next time you eat an apple... may I have a seed?”The End.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!