Do You Even Know?

Written in response to: Start or end your story with a person buying a house plant. ... view prompt


Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Speculative

     “Do you even know what kind of plant that is?”

     “Does it matter? I just like the way it looks.”

     “It looks like the kind of thing that could kill us in our sleep, and our murders would remain an enigma in the eyes of our judicial system. No one would be able to say anything for certain, except that we were dead.”

     “You become so dramatic when you think I should not buy something, whatever it is, but aren’t able to convince me why I shouldn’t.”

     He has always been like that. Yes, the plant isn’t by Good House Keeping standards one you take home to Mom on Mother’s Day, but then just taking something home to Mom at all is a gigantic step towards reconciliation or capitulation. 

     My mother, although well-meaning at times I’m sure, should never have been a mother, and therefore I should not be here. If I were not here, I would not be concerned with what my mother thinks, nor care. I know it is a dodge, but how many people can say, they would at times rather be orphans, than have to spend another holiday with relatives.

    It’s not that my mother is the problem, although it probably is, but all those attached to her. No one is an island unto themselves, the tendrils of heredity seem to creep back to the past unleashing an epidemic of undocumented chaos and illegality, that you needn’t know about, nor should you. The sins of the father stuff is fine in movies, but when it escapes the big screen and finds its way into your medicine chest in search of something, anything to kill the pain, you have to wonder.

     “Are you a Rubicon?”

     “Why would you ask me that?”

     “You were thinking out loud again, mother, relatives, which give me the creeps if you most know. It is like hearing your confession, or listening to your appeal at the gates of heaven. 

    A Rubicon is, according to the dictionary, my dictionary, a third person in the present. You are talking about people who no longer exist, and are purchasing plants that looked like they are the result of an exorcism. Perhaps you are just living a past life you have forgotten about. Happens all the time they tell me.”

     A third person present? A spirit, ghost, transcendentalist gone astray? It is an interesting concept, but then so is mental telepathy. The idea that you can communicate by a means not approved by the Better Business Bureau, gives me goose bumps.

    What I find exciting is not that there is possibly a third person who is eaves dropping on my thoughts, but that he works for the Better Business Bureau. What would be the odds of that? And me without a lottery ticket for tonight’s big multimillion drawing. 

    If there is a third person present, can there be a third person past and hopefully one in the future. If so my chances of pulling down the big lottery have just increased exponentially.  I now have a better than five billion chance of winning. I’m beginning to feel like a weather man, who even when looking at the flag on the pole outside the window, can’t tell which way the wind blows.

     Is it possible that a third person present, may just be me imagining I’m not only who I was, but who I will become. I’m beginning to feel like the Trinity must feel.

    “You are thinking out loud again. I can’t tell if you are aware of what you are doing, which implies you are using the subconscious inuendo of your words to influence those that hear your utterings, and win them to your side, or you are just crazy. I would accuse you of being political when it comes to houseplants, but I can’t decide if you are devious enough, in not only character but assumption, to corrupt the plant world in order to purchase an obscure plant that no one else would want, let alone become an advocate for.

    It is possible you are suffering from the Ugly Duck Syndrome, made renowned by the leader of a movement dedicated to saving the earth through education, Alfred E. Newman, chairman of the Mad Magazine conglomerate, and member of Plants Are Us.”

    “It is possible, but unlikely. First of all, we are not plants, although we are biodegradable. Secondly, no one calls me an ugly duckling, and walks away unchastised. Thirdly, I’m sure there is a thirdly, I just can’t remember what it is. This damn plant has begun to talk to me, and I feel like I have an obligation to answer.”

    I would be more concerned, but I’ve been in this position before. My best friend was a spider plant. It was sweetest plant I ever knew. When I needed someone or thing to talk to, It was there. When I needed to run something by someone or something, It was there. It never talked back, never criticized, but gave off this air of acceptance. No matter what, It was behind me urging me to go for it. 

     I find it difficult to talk about. It died I believe, under what I can only assume was a tortured and agonizing death. I got called out of town for what was supposed to be a few days. I took care to prepare It for my absence, extra water, two, not the usual one fertilizer strip, and I left the radio on so It wouldn’t be lonely. 

    The few days turned into a week, then two. I, not having any friends who believed plants deserved the same rights and treatment as humans do, would not disadvantage themselves even when I stressed that It was in imminent peril.

    I became distraught thinking of how It was suffering under the drought I’d exposed it to. I called 9-1-1 in despair, and the woman who answered said if I called again I would be arrested. All I could do at that point was to hope beyond hope, that It would somehow survive.

    When I arrived home I found it nearly impossible to open the door and check on my friend. When I finally got up the nerve to confront the inevitable, I was surprised. I expected dried leaves, emaciated stems, dirt no longer vibrant, but instead I found the space my friend once occupied, vacant. The ceiling hook remained, a few dead leaves on the floor, but nothing resembling a spectacular friend with five-foot tendrils that loved to be touched.

     I jumped to the conclusion that It had been stolen, but then I realized nothing else in my apartment was missing. It dawned on me after my grief subsided that It was not missing, but had escaped. How, I don’t know. Why, I can only assume the neglect pushed it past its breaking point, and rather than give up and die, decided to head out on its own to make a new life for Itself. 

    I was fortunate I’d taken several pictures of It. One now hangs from a piece of red yarn from the hook It once hung from. Nothing will ever be able to take Its place, but I’ve got my memories and a beautiful picture of It, in all Its glory, continuing to smile out the window at the pigeons who stop by to say hello. 

April 28, 2022 03:41

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