Exotic Venus Fly Traps (and Where to Buy Them)

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Start or end your story with a person buying a house plant. ... view prompt

3 comments

Fiction

Driving down barren Highway 43 on a dreary summer afternoon, Lily noticed a peculiar sight just up ahead – a man sitting behind a lone table on the side of the road. A sign hanging on the edge of the table read, “Exotic Venus fly traps looking for a loving caregiver. ALL SALES FINAL.” That’s quite an odd sight, thought Lily, as she approached the roadside merchant.  


Lily slowed down and parked her car in front of the display. She got out and walked up to the merchant. Laying on the merchant’s table were clear plastic bags, each bag containing exactly one seed. 


“What type of plants are these?”


“Venus flytraps, ma’am.” the merchant responded, “They’re endangered, you know? Very exotic. May not be around much longer.”


“I’ve never taken care of a fly trap before. Is it much work? What if I can’t handle it?”


“Not my problem,” the merchant answered matter-of-fact.


Lily always had a passing curiosity about fly traps ever since a child. However, given the convenience and, frankly, quirkiness of the display in front of her, she decided to act.


“Oh what the heck. I’ll take one.” Lily giggled, handling the merchant a couple of dollar bills, and in return pocketing the lone seed in the plastic bag.


Back at home, Lily went to her upstairs den and filled a plastic pot with soil. She then placed the seed on top of the soil and placed the pot on a brightly lit windowsill. Satisfied, she went on with her day.


Lily continued to take care of the seed, ensuring that the soil remained moist, and that the pot received enough sunlight from the upstairs window. To her amazement, the seed became a seedling within a couple of days, germinating much quicker than she was expecting. The seedling stretched out in the pot, it’s stem reaching a couple inches towards the sunlight. 


A couple days later, Lily noticed the traps beginning to form, with tiny hairs sprouting on the insides of the traps. Giving in to her childlike curiosity, Lily placed her finger inside one of the traps and, sure enough, the small trap began to close around her finger. She removed her finger from the trap and replaced it with a fly she had caught earlier. 


The fly trap continued to grow, reaching ten inches high in less than two weeks. Lily was overjoyed in the plant’s growth, continuing to feed and water the plant. 


A couple weeks later, the fly trap had nearly doubled in height. Wondering just how big fly traps normally become, Lily referenced an old botany book. To her astonishment, it normally takes Venus fly traps two to four years to reach a height of a couple inches – this one was nearly two feet tall already!


As the weeks passed on, Lily had to keep replacing the pot that the fly trap was in, as the plant kept outgrowing each pot. How big is this plant going to get? Soon the plant began pollinating and fertilizing, producing seeds. As the newly formed seeds began producing fly traps of their own, the adult fly trap reached upwards of four feet!   It became an ordeal to keep the adult fly trap fed, while also taking care of the newly born plants – which were also growing at an astonishingly fast rate.


Becoming concerned, Lily tried to hunt down the merchant who sold her the seed, seeking answers. Every day Lily drove back and forth on Highway 43, hoping that the merchant had set up shop once again on the side of the highway. But she had no such luck – the merchant was nowhere to be found. 


Lily had to always keep the upstairs window open, for the plant’s stem had grown so tall that it twisted out the window. Neighbors would stop and gawk at the peculiar sight – a fly trap hanging outside the window, reaching higher and higher towards the sky.


As much as Lily cared for the plants, feeding and taking care of them was becoming a full-time job, and she didn’t have the time or the money to devote to them. Saddened, but resolved, Lily went to her local general store to buy a pair of garden clippers. 


She approached the cashier, who asked what project she was up to.


“A couple months ago I bought a Venus fly trap – just for fun – and I never realized how large it was going to get! I need to trim it down, or maybe get rid of it all together – the largest one is growing out my window!”


The cashier frowned. “Ma’am – Venus fly traps are endangered. You can’t, by law, harm an endangered species.”


“I know they’re endangered, but what am I supposed to do? I can’t keep taking care of it. Could you take it off my hands?” 


The cashier held up his hands. “Not my problem! Perhaps your neighbors could help you take care of it?”


“I suppose,” Lily thoughtfully responded. “…just never realized how much work these plants would be! I’m at my wit’s end!”


Returning home, Lily approached a group of neighbors who were staring in amazement at the adult plant, whose stem now towered well above the roof of the house. She asked them if they would be willing to help take care of the plant. 

But after taking one more look at the ginormous plant, the neighbors became frightened and declined, responding “Not our problem!”


“But I can’t take care of these plants anymore! I don’t have the time or the money. And I can’t get rid of them either. What am I supposed to do?”


It seemed hopeless, until one astute neighbor came up with an idea – “Ma’am, your plants are the talk of the town! They’re truly a sight to behold. You can’t get rid of them, but I bet people would pay to see them up close. Botanists would travel from all across the country to see these plants!”


Lily’s eyes opened wide in wonder. “You’re right! And I bet with the money I make, I could quit my day job and focus on caring for these plants!”


Lily quickly began to advertise, first to the local botanists, and soon to scientists across the country, about the amazing giant Venus fly traps living in her upstairs den. People paid a hefty sum to get an intimate glimpse of the plants, for there were few like them in the world.  


And while this solved her financial issues, Lily still had one more problem to solve – the plants kept multiplying! Lily was collecting seeds every day from the numerous plants. She knew she couldn’t take care of all of these plants – for she was only one person. And while her guests were amazed at the plants, very few wanted to spend the effort to take care of their own giant fly traps. 


And so one dreary summer afternoon, Lily parked her car off the side of Highway 43. She set up a small table, and placed plastic bags on the table – each bag containing one seed. She placed a sign at the edge of the table, and sat down, waiting. Sure enough, a passing car soon slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. A man got out, eyeing the sign sitting on the table.


“Exotic Venus fly traps huh? But what makes them exotic?” the man inquired.


“Well, they’re endangered. Not many of them left.” 


“I see,” said the potential customer. “But if I buy one, and I find that I can’t take care of it, can I return it? What would I do?”


Lily responded matter-of-fact, “Not my problem.”

April 23, 2022 23:54

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

Sean Sorce
03:22 Jun 26, 2022

I loved how it reminds me of Little Shops of Horrors but more wholesome. I also love how people including Lily said the same line. Very good story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
George Davis
12:13 May 06, 2022

Interesting story Brian. You did, at times, use too many words to describe the action. But, overall, a great story.

Reply

Brian D
19:15 May 08, 2022

Thanks for the feedback George!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.