American Fiction Science Fiction

It was a beautiful summer day of one hundred five degrees Fahrenheit, with thick smog covering nearly every inch of the sky. Naturally, it’s days like these when children should be out enjoying the weather. Or at least that’s what Jeffrey thought.

“Come on, John! Let’s go out and play Money Tree,” the boy said. Jeffrey’s friend John pouted and stayed planted on his plastic chair, spinning it around to face the other boy.

“I’m tired of playing Money Tree with you,” John admitted. “You don’t play the right way!” Jeffrey scoffed at this before grabbing his friend by his arm and pulling. 

“Trust me, I’ve got a good feeling about this one,” Jeffrey claimed. Reluctantly, John let himself be dragged outside where he could feel thick smoke entering his lungs with every breath. 

“At least the weather is nice,” John conceded.

“Right? Now check it.” Jeffrey grinned, showing off his flawless teeth, before reaching into his pocket. After a second of shuffling around, the eager boy pulled his pale hand out and opened it. 

Inside was a single seed. The seed was roughly the same shape and color as the synthetic Lima beans that John would see on his dinner plate every evening. John reached for the seed and Jeffrey pulled his hand back.

“Nuh-uh,” the smiling boy said. “Go get the shovel first and then we can get started.” John frowned at him but shook his head and started walking to his family’s shed. He opened it to find a museum of old tools. The tools were so rusty that his parents would have locked the shed up if tetanus hadn't been eradicated decades ago.

John went inside and grabbed the scoop shovel, carrying it back outside to where Jeffrey was laying down in the dirt. Footsteps crunching through dirt alerted the lazy boy and he sat up to greet his friend.

“Great, now you can start digging,” Jeffrey said. The shovel was dropped next to him in response.

“You do it this time,” John replied while scowling at his friend. Jeffrey grabbed the shovel and got back to his feet. He had the decency to look sheepish before handing the shovel back to his friend.

“You know me. I’m not as hands-on as you are in this game. I’ll help later, I promise.” John rolled his eyes at this but leaned over to pick up the shovel. He wasn’t too pleased about doing the work again, but he was eager to see how the tree would grow so he started digging.

After a couple of minutes of one boy digging with the other on his phone, a small hole, about 2 inches deep, was embedded in the ground. John dropped the scoop shovel and wiped the sweat off of his forehead. He held out a hand towards Jeffrey.

“Toss the seed here,” he said. In response, his friend put away his phone and pulled out the seed.

“Actually, let me work my magic here.” Jeffrey dropped the seed into the hole and began kicking dirt over it. Before long the seed was completely buried and what was left of the hole was replaced with a disturbed patch of dirt. “That was some hard work, right?” Jeffrey asked as he poured out an entire bottle of water on the earth. 

“Sure,” John replied. “Now we have to wait.” The two of them sat down and stared at where they had planted the seed. Throughout the next hour, the boys watched as the tree started to grow. The tree began as a thin, little twig, grasping for what little light it could find. When it found a small ray of sunlight slicing through the smog, it began to grow. The twig thickened, becoming a trunk, branching out like blood vessels from the heart. 

Green leaves shaped like bills started adorning the tree like ornaments. Eventually, the branches were overwhelmed with the leaves drowning the top of the tree in rich green. The money tree had bloomed.

The children stared at the tree with wide eyes and gaping mouths. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen one this big,” John said as he started plucking the leaves off of the tree.

“I think you’re right,” Jeffrey replied. “Must’ve been that super rare bottle of mineral water.” He sat back with a grin and watched John rid the tree of its leaves. 

After several minutes, the tree was stripped down to its trunk and branches. John was sorting through the pile of leaves, counting off how many they had. 

“Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred. We got a hundred leaves!” He yelled out. Jeffrey was sitting on the other side of the pile and began dividing up the leaves. His smile was infectious.

“This is awesome. One hundred has to be some sort of world record or something,” Jeffrey claimed. A minute passed. “There, seventy-five for me and twenty-five for you.” John raised an eyebrow at this.

“Why do you get more than me?” He asked.

“It’s obviously because I’m the leader,” Jeffrey replied in confusion. 

“But I did more work than you!” John began yelling.

“I helped, plus the seed was mine. I bought it with my allowance.” 

“I don’t care! This is why I hate playing Money Tree with you, you do this every single time.” As he said that, John began walking towards his house. 

“Wait, John! You’re the only one that wants to do this anymore.” Jeffrey ran to his friend. “Without you, I won’t be able to play Money Tree.” 

“Too bad, play it by yourself,” John said as he opened the door to his house.

“How about I teach you how to be a leader? Then you can buy your own money tree seeds,” Jeffrey offered. John was intrigued, the idea of buying his own seeds was a nice one. If he played Money Tree with his other friends then maybe he could get the most leaves.

“Deal,” John agreed and the two boys walked back to collect their respective piles.

April 01, 2022 18:59

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