An Exchange (Not What She Expected XL)

06 May 2023  C. chou  3 mins read.

“You’re late.” His parent plant said, as the silver-headed adolescent approached it.

“I’m sorry.” The young man replied, as he kneeled and lowered his gaze. “I got caught up in something.”

“You are but a spirit formed of my thoughts and desires.” The plant admonished. “Your duties to me are your utmost priority. If not for me, you wouldn’t have existed, not to mention have anything like a corporal form.”

“I understand.” He answered, without protest.

“Indeed, you’d better.” The plant seethed. “You should be thanking me for bringing you into the world and giving you such an important task. Not everyone gets to study the greatness of humanity.”

“I…” The young man began, without looking up. His mind found its way to Xiyana. It was right. If not for it, he would’ve never had the opportunity to meet Xiyana. He would’ve never had the opportunity to learn of her kindness. He would’ve never had the ability to stay by her side when she needed support. As dark as some of the humans were, if not for his elder, he would’ve never seen the light and kindness that existed among them.

“You do understand that you are but a product of my thoughts, right?” The elder screamed within his mind. “I can simply will you out of existence, just as I have produced you out of nothingness.”

“I do.” He answered, blinking back tears. Memories of a mother and child passing through a festival surfaced in his mind. Their interactions. The mutual concern. Xiyana’s expressions, whenever she spoke of her brother. Her unspoken emotions, despite their physical separation, whenever she wrote to her sibling. Why couldn’t his family have a shred of that warmth?

“What’s that?” The plant demanded, without the slightest hint of mercy.

“I do understand.” He repeated, more loudly this time. “I understand that I was manifested as an accidental byproduct of your admiration toward mankind. My duties are to help further your understanding humans so that any future spirits will better resemble them.”

“Remember your place.” The plant responded. “You are but a failure. An imperfection. Something neither truly plant nor human.”

“I will.” The young man answered, keeping his head down. Despite everything, the plant was his only family. The truth was the truth. Regardless of how it made him feel, it didn’t change how people saw and treated him the instant that they realized that his hair wasn’t dyed and that he wasn’t wearing contacts. Regardless of what he did, he would never be able to erase the memories of those gruff hands that once sold him, the mother an d child that reported him to the officers, or the mocking laughter of the men that imprisoned and tortured him like he was some kind of circus freak. Everyone that he’d encountered. Everyone that he’d befriended. Everyone, except her.

Though he was generally respected among the other plants, his differences functioned as a barrier in themselves. Intentionally or not, they would never let him into their inner circles. He was simply too different. The concept of a human-like being standing among them was simply too much for them to accept wholeheartedly. Though he’d also originated from an origin plant, like the rest of them, he would never be seen as one of them.

Among plants, among humans, there was no place that he could truly say he belonged. Though his parent plant constantly spoke of future plant spirits, in all of the years that he’d lived, he’d never seen or met another. But none of that mattered. Not while there was her. Xiyana. She was different. She knew. But it didn’t matter. Nothing changed between them after she found out. She was still his friend. She treated him like he was a person, and that was enough.

“So, did you manage to bring back information this time?” The plant asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“I have.” He answered, letting out a quiet but relieved sigh. His elder’s tone suggested that the plant was finally done with scolding him. “But first, I’d like to inform you that I’ll be joining the military as soon as I graduate in May.”

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: