My Vegetable Love

Posted on: 03/12/2008

A short story written by Adam Knowles

My old room was far away as I blasted across the Antarctic wilderness, my only companions were the team of highly skilled proboscis monkeys pulling my sled, and Uguaua—the most beautiful bonsai cork tree in all the land.

It was in Peru that we were married, the land that we called home, but, sadly, it was not to be. They said it wasn’t simply homophobia. They claimed it wasn’t simply because he was green and I was white (though had dyed my left ankle plum crush in an unfortunate glass-blowing accident some years before). For the most part, I think, the others simply could not accept the idea of a man marrying a cork tree. They were ashamed of our love.

So, Uguaua and I decided to live far away from Peru, and the scorn of our families. I left my old room behind, in favour of a new abode: That small chariot. The tiny sled that was the one possession belonging to Uguaua and I, and we shared it with each other.

Supersonic-Uber-Hyper-Extreme-Crazy Monkey-Powered Ephemeral Madness Sled Team Antarctic Mega Sled Racing is a simple joy. A wholesome, traditional lifestyle where people get on with each other, and nobody asks too many questions, like: “What’s up with that cork tree in the passenger seat? It’s wearing a rather stylish ski jacket and spilling compost everywhere.” Everybody here had their own painful history, and in the brief glances of conversation that occur as one sled rider hurtles past another, nobody wants to bring it up.

It was in this quaint world of S.U.H.E.C.M.P.E.M.S.T.A.M.S.R. (as it is known locally) that Uguaua and I managed to continue our simple lives together. The bitter, icy air only served to contrast the sweet warmth within our hearts. Or, my heart anyway, and Uguaua’s xylem vessels, the warmth of which was, in fact, provided by a small hot water bottle tied delicately to his trunk beneath his ski jacket.

That ski jacket had been a gift from my mother. Like the others, she did not completely understand the relationship between Uguaua and myself. Truth be told, I do not think she approved, but she accepted. And that was enough for us. On the day that we set off toward our new life, sled paid for and monkeys ready and waiting in Sydney, she gave that ski jacket to Uguaua. “It’s cold down there” was all she said. The tears in her eyes spoke far more.

I think, literally and metaphorically, it was that ski jacket that gave Uguaua the strength to come this far. Uguaua was from a single parent family—his father having self-pollinated—and I have a feeling that my mother had always wanted to make up for that. I’m sure Uguaua feels the same way, but I’ve never wanted to ask. Out here, in the cold Antarctic, words can only explain so much. Words are worth little when the sled jets are roaring, and worth even less in the silence of night—the monkeys snuggled down firmly in their hammocks. Uguaua has never talked much.

Setting off in the morning, I stepped through the canvas flap at the entrance to our small, chilly room and gazed out across the wastes, wondering how much further we had to go, and whether we would ever get there. Though my eyes were hidden behind frosty goggles, the wind ruffled through my thick, bushy moustache, making this place seem even more barren, more real than its bleak appearance would suggest in a photograph.
“Come on,” said Uguaua, gently, “We’ll get through this.”


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