Chapter One - Part III
"I think we should measure the land to make our plot evenly spaced."
I hope my face does justice to the incredulity brewing in me. "You're kidding."
"I am one hundred per cent serious. The spacing between the plants will be crucial to their access to sunlight, penetration of air between the plants and even the flow of roots beneath the surface. All of these are very essential elements to ensure the successful growth of the plants."
I have known Abraham Bennett for ten minutes and I have learnt one very important thing about him. He's a nerd. It explains why his face is so innocent and soft but it does not explain the lack of glasses and the fact that he's cute.
Ignoring his earlier words, I drop to my knees and begin digging into the soil.
"Can I get some of those seeds?" Abe asks.
"Uh, help yourself," I answer.
"Thank you, " he says a lightly-tanned muscular arm reaching for the seeds.
"Sure, " I reply, finally creating a hole big enough to plant the first seed.
"Why haven't you answered my question?" Abe asks making a huge effort to make the hole right- broad and slanted the way out supervisor had shown us earlier.
"What question?" I ask, covering up the first hole and crawling a few feet away to start another. This time, I'm using the plastic spade Abe picked up for us.
"I destroyed public property. A night of tagging with friends ended up nearly burning down the biomedical research lab at the university. That's the crime I committed. I've shared. Your turn."
I pause what I am doing, not sure what to say to that. I can very well tell him the truth but tagging state property is on a whole different scale from illegal trade in knives. My crimes are considered especially heinous. I'm the Devil's spawn. I don't want to taint this boy's soul. So I choose the safest answer. The simplest answer in fact.
I shrug both shoulders. "Eh."
"It's your loss not telling me," he says solemnly, patting the little mound of soil after sowing his own seed.
A single shoulder shrug and I'm back to planting.
"I'll estimate that the distance between these two seeds is about three feet. Let us try to maintain that gap so everything will look symmetrical, okay."
For the next ten minutes, we are both silent, dedicated to our duty. I hate silence. But unfortunately, I left my earbuds in my satchel on the bench inside the building. And I do not want to have to talk to 'the man' again.
"You said you were caught tagging with friends. What did you spray-paint?"
Abe seems surprised by my sudden question. He takes a minute to confirm that I am indeed talking to him before composing his reply.
"It's actually kind of embarrassing."
Now he has my attention. "Spill, " I command.
"You tagged a building with your name?" I can't help the snort. "What a rookie move."
"I'm not much of an artist. What about you?"
"I like to sculpt every once in a while, " I answer. Abe smiles at me and I realise my mistake. Unknowingly, I have revealed something about myself to him.
"Maybe one day I'll show you the painting I made," he suggests, cute smile in place.