Spiritual Growths by Lori Ann White

Spiritual Growths by Lori Ann White
Publisher: Eggplant Literary Productions
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (31 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Robbie didn’t think anything of the mala made of bodhi seeds her co-worker gave her until it fell apart during her Sunday-night soak. Now a sapling has sprouted out of the drain, and it’s not coming loose, no matter how hard she tugs. Stranger still, more trees start appearing throughout the city: in fountains, in toilets, even in the middle of Candlestick Park.

Before she can ponder the sound of one hand clapping, a full-fledged media and religious circus has descended on the city; complete with Zen masters, protesters, investigative reporters and police cordons. Now Robbie has to figure out what to do with the bodhi tree before her co-worker finds it and brings the circus to her bathroom.

Every action has a consequence, but some consequences are much more serious than others.

As soon as I read the premise of this short story, I couldn’t wait to read it. Ms. White has a vivid imagination that illuminates every paragraph of her work. I was particularly intrigued by how she stretched the original idea beyond Robbie’s sphere of influence to show how something like this might affect people in general.

A subplot is hinted at early one but it’s never fully developed. It wouldn’t have worked well with the tone the main plot, so I was glad that it never came to fruition. This is my only criticism of any otherwise engrossing story. Had the hints and subplot not been included, Spiritual Growths would have easily earned a much higher rating.

The characters in this tale are witty and memorable. I liked Robbie immediately, but I was surprised by how much I was amused by the people in her life who try to help her figure out what to do with the rapidly growing tree in her bathroom as well. A tale of this size only contains a limited amount of room to explain the personality quirks and temperaments of the individuals who live in it, but Ms. White took advantage of every inch in order to make her characters come alive.

I enjoyed Spiritual Growths so much that I read it twice in a row. It’s the kind of short story that grows better with each retelling, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes the repetition of returning again and again to something that is well-written and fascinating.

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