Eleanor R. Wood’s story “A Seedling in the Dark” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 17 September 2021.
This story arose from several sources, but its overriding inspiration was British naturalist Chris Packham’s astonishing autobiography, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. In it, he describes his early passion for nature – not only his childhood obsession with the natural world, but the deep solace and sense of belonging he found there, particularly as a boy who didn’t fit in anywhere else. Around the time I read this book, I’d been toying with the notion of writing a story set in a survivalist bunker, and suddenly I was struck with the concept of a child who was deeply connected to nature and then cut off from it entirely. What would that do to a kid like this? What would it have done to Chris Packham as a boy? What would it do to me…?
I’ve also loved and thrived on nature since childhood, and the idea of being completely severed from it terrifies me. Being amongst nature is being surrounded by life. Being amongst non-human lifeforms takes our gaze away from ourselves and reminds us that this planet is host to far more than just human beings. In the story, Jeremy’s desperate need to have that affirmed overrides every other concern in his imprisoned life, and ultimately takes him to a place of both tremendous joy and bewildering sorrow.
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