You can laugh, but scientists have taught spinach to send emails. I think of this when my mind drifts to a dark place, which happens more and more since Nicole left. I think about Nicole, then I think about spinach sending emails and living becomes a little less unbearable. It has something to do with the soil. And groundwater. And carbon nanotubes. Something to do with soil and groundwater and how the roots of the spinach plant can detect the presence of chemicals found in landmines and how carbon nanotubes in the leaves emit a signal which can be picked up by an infrared camera and emailed to a lab. Nicole. Nicole is beautiful. Beautiful and smart. High cheekbones and a PHD. She could explain it better. She could tell you all about how the scientists could adapt this to warn us about pollution and other environmental conditions. The soil knows things. The soil knows things before we know them. The soil probably knew about Nicole. Everybody knew about Nicole. Everyone but me.

14 Comments

  1. Wendy Oleson

    And carbon nanotubes.
    High cheekbones and a PHD.
    The soil knows things.

    I love this piece. The narrator does a rather excellent job of explaining something fascinating and made more fascinating with the emotional weight of the break up! Bravo!

  2. Benjamin Niespodziany

    I love how this micro juggles heartbreak with emailing spinach. The science with the emotion. The loss with the progress. It’s a really great schism of a piece. Tiny sci-fi break-up piece?

    With the ending, I’m wondering if one tiny addition could be made to a line, to add an extra use of ‘Nicole’ as well as ‘I’, while also having repetition. Just a thought!

    “The soil knows things before we know them. The soil probably knew about Nicole before I knew about Nicole. Everybody knew about Nicole. Everyone but me.”

  3. Al Kratz

    Quit being so perfect! Love this one. The turn where Nicole could explain it better is perfect. I was already enjoying how he was using the spinach as a concentration diversion to stop thinking about Nicole and then Nicole is even better at telling the story about the spinach. Of course, she is.

  4. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Todd, I love the circularity of Nicole, and loss, and spinach/ progress, how they balance each other in terms of the piece. It’s wonderfully inventive, and I love when science is in balance (or superseded?) by loss, or heartbreak. Nicole. Love Ben’s idea about adding the soil knowing about Nicole. Nature does know subtle/vast things that we cannot know, as humanoids. And Nicole knew this.

  5. Len Kuntz

    Hi Todd,

    This is so clever and original. I’m not a science guy, but I loved the way you wove all the science through this piece. I was a believer in what you were telling us. You had one long sentence that flowed wonderfully. And the Nicole bits were terrific, especially the way you circled back at the end. A really great piece.

  6. Jonathan Cardew

    Holy shit, you write one amazing piece. And then you write another amazing piece.

    Did I say this was an amazing piece? And I did laugh, right away. I remember that story about spinach sending emails and it also reminded me of a segment on the podcast ‘Unexplainable’ about intelligent, problem-solving slime. Jesus, if spinach can send emails and slime can get around mazes, what’s to become of us?

    Love the rhythm of this piece and the use of “you” to mix us up in the mess. This is another senderouter.

    How about: cutting the last line “Everyone but me”?

    How about: writing a companion piece about the thoughtful slime?

    How about: running even more with the machinations, “nanotubes” etc.

    LOVED this piece!

    –Jonathan

  7. John Steines

    Hello Todd. Nice to meet your work. I was quite excited to see the references to nano tubes and soil biome, the life we are mostly unaware of. you use it well, though you claim to know little about it, but you know enough and are keyed in – by Nicole. And the loops I sense of Nicole, in and out of the story. That sensing that has to do with quantum existence, which we are essentially unable to sense, or make sense of. We superior beings…. I really appreciate the way in which you combine these things, and a person will do that – introduce us to worlds we know nothing of, then wash away in a rainstorm, or we’re washed away – runoff. You’ve done an incredible job of combining these worlds. Very impressed. I went to your webpage, btw, and love how the letters in your name leave and return. Best. j

  8. Francine Witte

    I really love how you weave all the science and love or longing throughout. Very tight writing. Love the repetition.

  9. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Todd,
    This gives me great concern. I’m trying to listen to my stomach, I think I can hear typing there. Is the spinach I ate for dinner sending for help? Did I say this is delightful. What a conceit, and playing with plausibility. I love the warp and weft of Nicole and the spinach as an early warning vehicle, like the proverbial canaries in the mines. Love the spare crafting of it.

  10. David O'Connor

    Todd, this is brilliant. That first line is the best, the way it flows to the last, a whole story told, tight sentencing loosens into confusion and passion with the narrator. I love when form mirrors content. I love images like: High cheekbones and a PHD. I love this whole piece, so ready to be published. This is what Flash can and should do.

  11. Wilson Koewing

    Todd,

    I love this. It’s absurd, but grounded. A perfectly realistic piece about where the mind of a man might meander to as he deals with the loss of a lover. I have no suggestions.

    Wilson

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