What Grows in the Orchard

Kartika walked through the soft grass of her family’s orchard, smiling as the sun warmed her shoulders. The first promise of autumn was in the breeze. It was nearly time to harvest.

Even with her prescription sunglasses she had to squint against the multifaceted reflections of the sun. Rainbow prisms flitted in her periphery vision like playful birds, but their brightness caused a hard pain to form like a lump just above the bridge of her nose. But she walked on in defiance of the pain. Let it be a memory. New eyes, soon; with the harvest.

Finally she arrived at her tree, at the back of a long row planted generations ago. A single bloated cloud in the wide blue sky passed in front of the sun like a grazing cow, and in the shade she could examine her tree directly. It was mostly clear, with flecks of pink and yellow and silver scattered throughout the sharp angles of its interior. A small single-family orchard like this one locked up more carbon than ten square miles of rainforest—or what a rainforest would hold, if there were any left. Black fruit the size of pumpkins hung from the rock-hard branches. She felt one. Firm, ripe. Maybe this one held her new eyes.

Kartika activated the holographic display at the tree’s base, and on the face of each fruit she could see an inventory of its contents. Replacement water filters. Shoes to fit her growing feet. A chair cushion. A thousand hours of original sheet music for cello solo. And a pair of Hypersight Theia III ocular substitutes with dual polarized apertures and true double-color wavelength range of 1,000 nm down to 100 nm. She’d used most of her allotment and could barely stand to wait another minute, let alone a week.

White light erupted all around her as the lazy cloud finally moved on. She laid down at the base of the tree. The grass was like fine down and smelled of rainwater. A week. She had no choice but to wait, but until then it helped to stay close to the tree, to be near. Kartika fell asleep in the sun and dreamed of all the colors she couldn’t yet see.

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