GRASS IS GRASS
The blades of grass clustered around the meeting stump, idle chatter melting away as a leaf of Kentucky Bluegrass called them to order.
“Let’s get directly to the point,” said the Kentucky Bluegrass. (She-he didn’t have a name, since what would be the point? They were all Grass.) “How’s the war against those damned trees going?”
A blade of Creeping Bentgrass cleared his-her throat, and the other blades rustled as they turned to listen. “Since our last meeting in 1932,” she-he said, “our longtime anthroculture project has … well, honestly it’s just blown every projection out of the water. I mean, it’s been ramping up more and more over the past 6,000 years, but lately it’s become just this amazing thing! Even with those rogue humans, those environmentalist types, we’re seeing tens of thousands of square miles of efficient arboricide every year!”
The Kentucky Bluegrass whistled. “Holy worm castings!” she-he said. “When did we start that project? It can’t have been more than a quarter million years ago.”
“Two hundred thousand,” said the Creeping Bentgrass helpfully.
“I don’t like it,” broke in a ragged cluster of Crab Grass. “What do we need humans for? Why do we have to keep expanding all the time?”
“Growth is life,” said the Kentucky Bluegrass severely. “When we stop expanding, that’s when the trees get us.”
“So what are you suggesting?” countered the Crab Grass. “Keep growing until all the forests are gone? Try to grow on rocks? Colonize the ocean? Even then, what happens when we run out of space on the planet?”
“Actually,” said the Creeping Bentgrass with some excitement, “we’re encouraging the humans in a project where they make metal containers to ship things to other planets. Over time, we can spread across the entire universe!”
“What?” said a stem of Golden Grove Bamboo. “I don’t want to fly around in the sky. That’s not natural! The Crab Grass is right. What happened to ‘Grow and let grow?’”
“We tried that with kudzu,” the Kentucky Bluegrass said. “Remember how that turned out?”
A cluster of overgrown grasses at the edge of the crowd had been making unsettled noises, and now they started shouting the Kentucky Bluegrass down.
“Bunch of hayseeds,” growled the Kentucky Bluegrass.
“Why don’t we give the project a few more millennia and see how things look?” called out the Creeping Bentgrass.
“We grains will do whatever everyone thinks is best,” said the Durum Wheat.
“Yes, let’s not fight!” added the Oats.
“This is what happens when simple good citizenship devolves into herd mentality,” muttered the Koshihikari rice to its close relatives. They nodded their seedheads in respectful agreement.
“Quiet! I demand quiet!” said the Kentucky Bluegrass. Over the continued grumbling, she-he added, “Let’s put it to a vote.”
It was a spirited discussion that went on for several growing seasons. At one point the wild grasses stalked out of the proceedings, and at another the Sharp-Flowered Rush got the barley to agree to kamikaze attacks on human population centers as a practical joke.
Grasses are many, and they pride themselves on their tenacity. When grasses are mowed down, they grow back stronger. When they’re harvested, their seeds fall and grow legions of new blades to bolster their ranks. When those seeds are chewed, they do their best to survive the gastrointestinal system regardless of how unpleasant, acidic, or personally demeaning the process might be.
The individual blades and stalks changed during the course of the thing, as you can imagine, but as the saying goes, Grass is Grass, and in the end they reached not just a majority, but a consensus: The human experiment had gone too far.
Humans would have to go.
Tomorrow, when you walk across your lawn, as you might do on any day, secure in the understandable but tragically misguided assumption that you are growing the grass rather than the other way around, it may be that you will be surprised as you feel a tug on your shoe, a strange constriction around your ankle. As you are pulled to the ground, too surprised to act decisively, perhaps you’ll struggle. Perhaps you’ll cry out, demanding to know who your enemy is, never thinking that it’s your master calling you back from the field to be culled–the master who in fact is the field itself.
And as your green overlords constrict around your throat, the only question that will remain regards the oak tree, the scraggly pines at the edge of your driveway, the upstart birches trying to colonize the old field behind the house. They knew about the grass. They knew you were being manipulated, prodded into cutting them down, steered into destroying them acre by acre. Trees aren’t forthcoming with their feelings, though. Trees endure. Will their resentment for the grass cause them to charge to your aid, their roots churning your green lawn into brownish froth? Or will their resentment for you bring them to draw close and lay a silencing limb over your mouth as the grass draws tighter?
Or will they simply stand, swaying unconcernedly in the breeze, letting their old enemy correct the human mistake and waiting to see what the next aeon brings?
Food for Thought
What’s the relationship between a domesticated species and the humans who domesticate it? Is there a power structure involved?
Does humanity change as a result of the environments humanity creates, beyond surface changes in behavior and appearance?
Do we have any moral obligations to species we domesticate, whether plant or animal?
About the Author
Luc Reid (www.lucreid.com) is a Writers of the Future winner, the founder of Codex Writers’ Group, a third degree black belt, an organic gardener, a Zen Buddhist, and an energetic advocate for carbon footprint reduction (www.faceclimatechange.com, www.sustainablewilliston.org). His prior publications include stories like “When a Bunch of People, Including Raymond, Got Superpowers” (Daily Science Fiction) and “Ways to Enjoy Nutrient Blend 14” (Nature) as well as plays, articles, the flash fiction collection Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (lucreid.com/bam) and the non-fiction book Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 Subcultures (Writers Digest Books, 2006; expanded and revised edition 2014 – lucreid.com/ttt). Luc lives near Burlington, Vermont with his wife, kids, and compulsively disobedient garden.
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