Another one of those inspired pieces that I did not want to wait to share!
They always told him that money did not grow on trees. He had been five when he found out it was true.
Neil’s parent’s had been arguing about money, his mom had probably wanted new shoes or a dress or something, and dad put his foot down.
“You and I both know that money does not grow on trees,” he had yelled at her.
Neil’s first reaction was, what does it grow on then? Later that night, he had gone to his father. “Daddy, can I have some pennies? Please?”
“If you can bring me the jar, you can have some.”
Neil’s eyes had bulged. How was he going to move the jar? The jar was an old water jug that was FULL of coins, pennies, nickels, dimes, and even quarters. He would never be able to move it. And all the way from next to dad’s bed to the living room? “Ok Daddy.”
He had gone into the bedroom and pulled on the jar. It did not move. He heard a giggling coming from the doorway, but when he looked, no one was there. He got behind the bottle and pushed it, it still would not move, and, defeated, he slid down the wall he was leaning against until he was sitting on the floor. He kicked at the jar, and it moved, a little, but it had moved! He could move the money jar! Using his feet, his back pressed against the wall, he was able to push the jar a little further, and then even further away from the wall, towards the door. And then it was out of reach. He crawled on the floor towards it, and pushed it with all of his strength, and it moved even more.
Moving the jar was tiring, and by the time he had gotten it to the doorway of the bedroom, his mom was calling for him to come to bed. Obediently, he went.
When he woke up the next morning, the jar had been put back where he had started. When he saw this, he had burst into tears.
His mother came running into the room, “What’s wrong honey?”
“I moved that,” he blubbered through the tears, and pointed at the jar.
“You left it in the middle of the doorway, I couldn’t get into the room to go to bed. I am sorry sweetie. Why were you moving it?”
“Dad said…Dad said, Dad said.” He was still sobbing, and he stuttered when he cried.
“Dad said I could have some pennies if I brought him the jar.
His mom had such a pretty smile and she was smiling now. “Did he? Well it’s a good thing he’s at work then isn’t it. Don’t tell him, this will be our secret.”
His mom had gone and gotten the jar, even she had trouble dragging it, and set it by his chair in the living room. She kneeled down in front of him, “When he gets home, ask him for the pennies now that the jar is there.”
Neil giggled. “Thanks Mommy.” Neil kissed her on the cheek and went to play with his toys.
He had mac and cheese for lunch, and was still wearing some of it when his dad got home that night. They ate supper, and when his dad sat in his chair in the living room to watch the news, Neil was right there. “Can I have my pennies now Daddy?” He was leaning on the jar.
“You did this all by yourself?” Dad looked at Neil, and then Mom, and shook his head. “Ok.” He tipped the jar, and a bunch of coins came out. “How many do you need?”
Neil’s eyes bulged again, he had not though about that, how many should he plant? “Ten!” Ten would be perfect.
His father counted out ten pennies and placed them in Neil’s hand. “There you go. Don’t spend it all in one place, remember, it doesn’t grow on trees.”
That night, Neil went to bed smiling, all ten of his pennies clutched tightly in his hand.
He woke up after his father had left for work, and had his breakfast. He loved Cheerios. While his mom was vacuuming, and thought he was playing with his toys in his room, he snuck out into the backyard and through the loose board in their fence, into the woods behind the house. He dug ten little holes with his hands in the dirt at the base of the fence, and dropped a penny in each hole. He covered them with dirt and patted it down and made it back into the house. He was washing his hands when his mom found him
“What have you been doing?” She was looking at the dirt on his knees.
“Then why are you all dirty?”
“I’m not. See!” He held out his hands, that were, admittedly, pretty clean.
His mom had laughed and shook her head.
He snuck out every day for the next two weeks and watered his pennies, and was about to give up hope when he noticed a small piece of green sticking through the earth of one of the mounds that held his pennies. He had clapped and shrieked, and after another week, all ten of his pennies had little green shoots growing from them.
His mom and dad never found them, and after a month of diligent watering, the first plant had grown what looked like a giant pea on it. He couldn’t resist, he plucked it off the plant and tore it open and found eight shiny new pennies. Excited, he ran to his mother and showed her.
She smiled back at him, and laughed. “You still have those?” She thought they were the pennies Dad had given him.
Another few weeks passed, and he had so many pennies he couldn’t even count them all, he had twenty piles of ten.
He had kept watering the ten plants but finally, they were beginning to turn brown, like Mommy’s tomato plants did after she had taken all of the tomatoes off of them. He spent one day playing out in the yard after that and planted all of the coins he had grown in a corner of the yard, but then fall and winter came, and none of them grew.
He had almost forgotten about them the next spring when he was out playing with his Matchbox cars in the sandbox, and after making one of them jump, had to chase it to where he had planted the pennies. They were sprouting!
That year he decided that two hundred plants were too much for him to handle. He kept fifty pennies to plant, and when he rolled the other four hundred that he had managed to collect, and brought them to the bank, the lady at the counter had asked him where he had found so many pennies.
“I grew them,” he told her.
She had laughed and handed him four dollars. He planted one of those, but it did not grow anything at all, it just got all dirty.
At the age of fifteen, he had learned about plant breeding, and had successfully grown his first nickel plant. Dimes had been a lot harder and had taken two years to master, and don’t even ask about quarters.
Neil was now twenty-seven, and had a huge greenhouse in the backyard of the house he had bought with his seed money. He had figured out how to grow three full crops every year, mostly quarters, but he grew ten penny plants with every harvest as a reminder to what had gotten him started.
His phone rang, it was his dad.
“Hey Dad, how are you? Hey, I am glad you called, there is something I’ve been meaning to tell you. You know, you were right, money does not grow on trees. It grows on vines.”