Coming of Age Fiction Friendship

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been alone.

Actually, that’s not entirely true; There’s always been others near me, several in fact. But I had always felt - alone.

Don’t know if it’s just baseless paranoia or if there was something to all those whispers and rustlings around me. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just me.

I never really gave much thought about what kind of person would bring home a houseplant. An ambitious botanist looking for a cure to some awful disease? A supervillan looking to procure some poison? Perhaps some stoner wanting to add some new herbs to his bong?

”What will become of me?” I wondered as I entered the room with my new (and only) friend.

Now don’t you judge me too harshly, I know I have a vivid imagination. That is what happens when you’ve been stuck with an audience of one for too long. But fantasizing about heroic horticulturalists or chlorophyllic caped crusaders was far better than thinking ”sad loner.” A sad loner, more than likely, would murder a poor houseplant by sheer lethargy. It’s not as easy as it seems, caring for a plant. There are rules. Strict ones. But someone had to go and get one anyway.

Houseplants typically require high light (four to six hours a day) or low light (less than three hours a day), bright sunlight from a south-facing window (there are none in this apartment), or indirect or filtered light through a curtain or the light from a bulb. Fortunately there was a spot right next to the balcony that worked fine. Now if only water could be remembered twice a week this could actually be the start of something kinda nice.

It’s not a big apartment. A one bedroom/ living room, with a couch way too big for one, and a bed much too small for two, a wall mounted TV and a tiny bookshelf.

It’s quite alright. I don’t need that much space.

The bookshelf is acting as a makeshift divider in order to give the appearance of a bedroom; but one could easily peer through the stacks of young adult novels like Looking for Alaska by John Green or The perks of being a wallflower (my favourite), and spot the laundry bags under the frequently unmade bed.

But as I said, it’s not something that bothers me.

I must admit, I was reticent. It seemed odd at first to converse with an entirely different life form. Not just odd. Try certifiably insane. I have never been able to keep a communication going for more than a few minutes without someone turning away seemingly bored out of their mind. I’m not boring I don’t think. Just shy.

I know about dogs and their owners; cats and their pet humans. They give the illusion of understanding. Humans tend to anthropomorphise and wish for things to be true.

”Look honey! The dog is smiling!”

(Nope, it’s drooling because it’s hungry)

”Aaw, Fido is sad.”

(Nope, still hungry)

”My cat loves to cuddle!”

(Wrong, she hates you)

A houseplant doesn’t lie, couldn’t squint its eye and pretend to love you, would never yawn in the middle of a sentence or lick your face.

You could carve a smile into a turnip or a monstrous grin out of a pumpkin, but that lie is on you. No vegetable, flora or fauna has ever mislead someone and no whomping willows or ravenous singing plants exist in real life. There’s even been cases where FBI agents have concealed tiny microphones in flowerpots in order to get to the truth.

Houseplants are honest .

And that is why it worked out so well for us.

After that initial feeling of embarrassment we flourished.

One would talk, one would listen. One would breath out, the other in. A quid pro quo and a perfect circle of life. It’s really something when you get to pour your heart out, feeling absolutely secure that it will never harm you.

Even insults hurled at a plant will nourish it and it will never spit the venom back. In fact it may only grow larger because of it.

Obviously there is never any need for insults in this relationship. Mostly the talks range from something someone said during the day or a story that happened on the way from work. Like on the subway when that lady carrying two parcels left a third one outside the closing doors. Or when a duck accidentally bit a finger instead of a piece of bread at the park. Funny little tidbits like that really brightens even the cloudiest of days.

There can be sad ones of course. Stories from the office, meetings that grew long or when the neighbour came by to say that her cat (who snuck by the apartment regularly for some R&R) had passed away. But tears, just like rain, are good sometimes because they help us grow.

Toxic relationships I’ve been privy to before and, although I haven’t been directly involved, I know a weedy garden when I see one, and I feel like I’ve outgrown them before I’ve even entered.

That’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, rain or shine, whether others find it silly or not -- I love what we have!

It’s wholesome.

Ok, in the interests of full transparency, I feel I can tell you this. I have actually given her ( I think it is a her) a name. Aaaaaah! I know it’s crazy, but it’s not like hugging the pillow before sleep or kissing your own hand in the mirror or anything. She has really helped me cope with things, helped me grow and given me a purpose. I know it sounds silly but there it is. I felt it was the right thing to do, as a sign of respect - to show her my appreciation.

Giving her a name makes her real. Not just ”friend” but someone that I know. That also knows me. She’s so precious.

I’m calling her Leaf.

I’m so happy about it! It’s the perfect name for her. She’s lush, she’s natural, radiant, colorful. It’s a perfect match. Just like us.

I don’t know if she’s given me a name. Not yet. I suppose it’s not important. I know she appreciates what I do for her. I know that.

Besides, I don’t need a name. I know who I am. And I know what I am.

I’m happy.

I’m not alone anymore.

I’m houseplant.

April 28, 2022 17:13

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Felice Noelle
15:01 Apr 30, 2022

Jesper: Great sounding name, by the way. I loved this story. The loneliness, the seeking to find meaning in solitude, the avoidance of pain, the reasons for feeling safer in that solitude. And Yes, I too, call my plants by name. Vegetables are always males, fruits and berries are females, and house plants get named with favorite heroes or villains in my favorite novels. I rationalize that if I name them, I may take better care of them; but it does increase the grief when one of them doesn't make it or dies from neglect when I get partic...


Jesper Jee
15:05 Apr 30, 2022

Thank you very much! Your story hit home with me too! Will read more of your stuff and will look forward to it! Thanks again!


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Jeannette Miller
15:07 May 05, 2022

I love the casual tone of the story. How the environment is explained in a throw away manner as if they're revealing their vulnerability but trying not to make it a big deal to not be hurt if the listener doesn't respond the way they want. (A wordy sentence, sorry!) I love how they found a partner, someone to talk to, in a house plant. A wonderful story :) Well done!


Jesper Jee
16:53 May 05, 2022

Thank you! Did you get that it was from the plants POV? I fear that was lost on most people. Which is a problem for me to work out, not everybody else. Thanks for reading!


Jeannette Miller
14:48 May 06, 2022

I did not get that. It's a cool idea though!


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Annalisa D.
21:48 May 04, 2022

I really enjoyed reading this. I love perks of being a wallflower so I appreciated that mention. I like the part comparing plants to having pets. You have a lot of great lines and thoughts in this. It's such a sweet story. It made me smile to read the excitement of the friendship building at the end. Well done!


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