LET IT GROW

           It began with the stoplights. Scientists were able to provide many ideas on how it could have happened, but no reasons. The late night deep cable religiousites knew it was an undocumented feature of the end of the world, the second coming, and the wrath of God, and began all-night prayer vigils with many discount candles and led mighty crusades of evangelism to rescue those remaining few who could be saved. The burn-outs talked Mother Nature. A few cried a lot. The rest of us (with the exception of smaller children, who, perhaps sensing the futility of words, just started to steal the fruit) simply stared in disbelief. No one, though, could adequately explain why on a Tuesday last March, the stoplights had begun to grow.
           We barely noticed at first. We still went at the green and yellow, stopping sometimes at the red. The tiny new branches and budding leaves didn't catch our attention. Then, within a few hours of each other, the stoplights all stopped working. When the road crews finally fought through the traffic tie-ups and got to the traffic signals, their heads ground gears and stalled. The mind just didn't make allowance for this type of thing. Not without some tasty pharmeceuticals.
           The traffic signals had begun to grow branches, and soon after that, fruit.
           The shock didn't last long, though. We cycled through fear, wonder, and utter denial just as quickly. All that lasted was the annoyance of the traffic cops and jams. Within two months the survivalists were back from the desert; eschatalogical types decided that this wasn't the milestone signalling the beginning of the end, and the wrath of God types reversed their positions entirely. This wasn't the start of judgment, but rather another sign, like the prophets and Jesus, from a benevolent floating God to prompt belief in a jaded world.
           Weekly growth reports of leafy traffic lights began to lose attention as the plants reached what seemed to be a full height of around thirty feet. National records floated around for a while, and human interest stories about the new food source for homeless persons were popular. A photo in the paper of a suicide by hanging from one of the new trees inspired a mini-Jonestown among the unoriginal. In the end, though, the stoplights just weren’t lasting news.
           The various fads prompted by the fruit-producing stoplights shared the same short lifespan as did the media's sensationalism. The almost immediate onslaught of stoplightfruit mixed drinks, recipe books, candy bars, cooking tips on talk shows and presweetened breakfast cereals was over in a little over six months. The novelty wore off quickly when we realized that stopples just didn't taste that good. They weren't offensive; they just tasted like dry and bitter oranges. Demand was almost gone by the time the city put its ban on the picking of the fruit (it seemed that stopple pickers tended to be a bit careless, and more often than not fell into intersections and on top of cars.)
           We all had almost stopped caring completely when the cats turned poisonous.

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