I had heard it’s good for your mental health to have a plant, and that seems way more manageable for me than say a girlfriend or a cat. So I went to the garden center to find one for my new home. I was a little scared though because I had never bought a plant before. That may sound a little silly but I had a good reason. I had honestly never taken care of another living creature before. I barely did ok taking care of myself.
After several minutes of looking at everything in the store and not finding anything interesting, I was about to call it quits and go back home. But as I turned the corner of the last aisle, I spotted the most beautiful plant on the floor next to a shelf of plastic containers of - who knows what! Its leaves were thick and looked like a bunch of greenish rocks, with tiny flowers in the cracks. The leaves seemed to change their color depending on the angle of the light hitting them. I picked it up and looked for the little plastic information card all the other plants had stuck into their soil telling you what it was and how to take care of it. There was no card, no price tag and the pot looked like someone had found it on the side of the road. I hoped it was for sale, I was so excited to buy it.
So I nervously took it up to the cash register and asked the clerk how much it cost. She looked at it quizzically and said, “Huh, I don’t see a tag.”
She then lifted the pot and looked at the bottom, “nothing here either. I can’t even tell what kind of plant this is.”
I worried for a second that she wouldn’t sell it to me, but then to my relief she said, “It’s probably just a lithop that got cross-pollinated with something else. I’ll sell it to you for $10.”
I happily handed over the cash and practically ran home with my new “friend.”
I poured over a pamphlet the clerk gave me, wanting to be sure not to kill the plant on the first day. I picked a nice sunny spot on the window sill beside my bed - convenient as I can see it every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed. There’s no way I can forget about it.
“There you go little buddy, home sweet home. Do you like it?” I asked, knowing it was silly to do so. But I couldn’t help wanting to treat my plant like it was alive, because it is alive even if it can’t talk to me. My little friend seemed to like her (do plants even have a gender? Well I thought it looked like a girl) new home. I bought her a nice big pot to grow into and some fancy soil. I thought I saw her shake a little in response to my question. I thought it was just from my placing her down. After taking some pictures with my phone to send to my small group of friends, we went about our usual routine - pajamas and video games. Of course they had to give me some crap about my plant, calling me Seymour and saying Audrey II was gonna eat me in my sleep if I didn’t treat her right. I honestly didn’t get the joke, but they all laughed so much I assumed it must be funny and played along, adding that they were just jealous I actually had a girl in my life unlike them. We all laughed as we went back to shooting up Nazi zombies.
This went on well into the night until I finally passed out, headset still on and in mid-game. At least that’s what I thought until I woke up to my alarm blaring at me. I found my headset and controller on my night stand and my blanket pulled up around me. “Huh”, I thought while in a daze, “I must have done that while half asleep last night.”
I hit snooze on my alarm and went back to sleep, not waking up til the fourth time. I knew I had to get up then or I’d be late for work. I rushed to get ready, taking a quick shower, scarfing down an energy bar, grabbing my things and getting ready to leave. Suddenly remembering Audrey, I ran back to my room. I checked to see if she was ok, gave her a gentle pat and told her goodbye. Then I rushed to get to work on time.
When I got home that evening, I walked in and yelled to Audrey “I’m home!” I was exhausted from working all day, but I was ready to see how my plant was doing. I was a little surprised when I saw her though as she seemed to have grown a little already.
“Wow look at you, you’re growing up so fast!” I praised her as I looked her over,
“You’ve got a big new bud forming in the center there, I bet it’ll be beautiful when it blooms.” I beamed like a proud parent.
“Oh what’s this,” I wondered as I noticed the two little vines curled up around the base of Audrey’s leaves,
“Were those there before?”
I checked my pictures to see if they had always been there, but I couldn’t tell from the angle one way or the other. I decided it wasn’t a big deal and proceeded with her care. I gave her a spritz of water and a bit of plant food, to which she seemed to shake in joy. I was surprised that seeing her really did make my mood better. It seemed that the internet was right about plants improving your mental health. I went about my routine as usual for the next few days, the only difference being checking on Audrey.
One day I woke up to my phone’s alarm going off, but as I was going to hit snooze, it went off by itself. Thinking I must have been hearing things, I decided to ignore it. Then I felt something tickling my cheek. I tried to brush it away in my half awake state but soon realized that something was off and sat up with a jolt. I looked and saw two long tendrils coming from Audrey, one touching my phone and the other touching my cheek. I stared in disbelief as the tendrils attempted to pull me out of bed. They were way too skinny to move me, but I got up anyway, appreciating the gesture despite how confused it made me. I’d never heard of plants doing that but I figured maybe that was what people meant about them being helpful. I looked and Audrey had almost overtaken her first pot. The large bulb in the center had burst open into a beautiful red flower. As I was admiring her, two vines came out from her base, each tipped with white bulbs (or maybe berries, I really don’t know enough to say).
“Wow Audrey, you look so pretty today. You’re growing so big, I may have to buy you a new pot after work.”
As I said that, two little black spots appear on the white bulbs, giving them the appearance of eyes. She wrapped her tendrils around my hand and nodded her eye bulbs up and down, like she was thanking me.
“It’s no problem, anything for my best friend.”
Her leaves shook vigorously, clearly happy with the attention. Afterwards I got myself ready and told her goodbye as I begrudgingly went to work.
“Honey I’m home!”, I exclaimed jokingly. I carried in the biggest pot I could find as well as more soil. Audrey reached out to me as soon as I got within reach, causing me to smile.
“Ha ha ha, you missed me that much huh?” I asked as I began setting the new pot up for her. No sooner than I had it ready, Audrey extracted herself from her old pot and, using her roots and tendrils as makeshift feet, she crawled her way into the new pot and planted herself. I looked on in awe, impressed with how adaptable she was. After an unsuccessful attempt to lift the plant food, she pointed to it with her tendrils.
“Heh, you still need me after all?” I said as I fed and watered her. “Well that’s good, I’d be a little sad if you got so independent you left me.”
She shook her eye bulbs and held my hand as tight as she could with her tendrils, as if she was telling me she wouldn’t do that.
“Don’t worry, I know. I was just teasing.”
When I finished feeding Audrey, I decided to make myself some healthy food from a meal kit I had shipped to my apartment. I figured that if I was gonna take such good care of her I should take care of myself, too. After eating and cleaning up, I played online with the gang for a little bit. I made myself go to bed at a reasonable hour so I wouldn’t be so tired at work. Audrey really brought out the best in me. As I settled into bed, she pulled the covers over me. I thanked her and told her goodnight.
It had been a few months since I got Audrey, and things were going great. She had gotten huge, taking up over half of my bedroom. Her tendrils had multiplied and become thick vines, and she used them to help me with all sorts of things around the house, like cleaning, doing laundry, and even cooking (though I worried about the last one as I didn’t want her to get burned).
I’d even taught her to play video games with me. She wasn’t very good, but she was getting better every day. So I decided to send a video of us playing to my friends. As I was recording, Audrey wrapped her vines around my waist and said “I …..love…..you…….”.
I squealed like a proud parent, “Oh my Audrey! You said your first words! You’re so amazing! I’m so proud of you!!!”
I tagged the video with “I might be bringing someone else to the group soon! Lol” and sent it to the group. I expected my friends to be equally impressed but instead I got panicked messages of “WTF IS THAT THING?!”, “HOLY SHIT THAT’S NOT A PLANT!!!!!”, and “DUDE GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW! THATS NOT NORMAL!!!”
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