THE HOUSEPLANT IN LOVE WITH A GIRL
by Shannon Noel Brady
I love her.
I love her, I love her, I love her.
But I cannot tell her this, because the mesophyll affords me no need for a mouth.
Perhaps, as she pours the morning water upon me, causing my limbs to bounce beneath the shower… Perhaps, if I try very, very hard, I can will them to bounce just a little more, and she will see this and she will know that they bounce and jump with joy for her.
Perhaps, as she moves my heavy ceramic pot to the brighter windowsill where the three o’clock sun can find me, where it accentuates my strong and manly stems… Perhaps, if I try very, very hard, I can align my shape so that the light shining between my leaves upon the wall may spell out my ardor in sunlit letters.
Perhaps, as winds thrust through the open window, as they blow into her face her long brown hair (brown like my soil! Oh how many things we have in common!)… Perhaps, if I try very, very hard, with the help of the wind I can scoot to the sill’s edge, fall with a crash onto the floor. She will hasten to sweep up the dirt, but not before I tenderly grasp her hand with my roots.
This is our life together. It is not much, but it will do. Gazing out the high, high window, I fantasize about all the things we could do together if she knew of my heart’s longings.
Like Ferris wheel rides. Men and women are always going on Ferris wheel rides. We would stop right at the top, the jolt causing our cart to rock back and forth. She would clutch my stalk with playful fear, noting to herself how long and thick and hard my stalk is.
And movies. Men and women are always going to the movies. She would get popcorn, and for me she would position a cup of water and straw leading to my roots. I would surreptitiously place a stem around her shoulders, as is done, and she would nestle in close enough to smell my cologne: PhotosyntheSEX.
And let us not forget dinner at glamorous restaurants. Men and women are always going to glamorous restaurants. Only the ritziest of establishments we would attend, because I would make lots of money doing something very important and impressive. She would wear dresses as black as well-moistened fertilizer and gaze at me with eyes matching my own verdant hues. Green, green eyes.
What a glorious life we would live!
Ah, my strawberry has awoken. She comes into the room, wipes the dust from my leaves. (I have very masculine leaves, and when she touches them I make sure to flex as hard as I can so she may admire my potential for protecting her. And my virility.)
“You’ll be meeting a new friend today,” she says.
We cannot truly communicate, but she tells me these idle nothings to fill the space. I may not be able to answer but I enjoy listening. So, dear, who is this friend you speak of? A basket of begonias? An herb planter?
She pours my water and says, “My boyfriend will be here soon.”
Oh my lily pad, what is this cruel word?! How it slices my heart like garden shears! How it starves my soul like a summer drought!
A knocking comes from the door, and she exclaims, “Here he is now!”
She rushes to let him in, and I hate him immediately. The boy-fiend in question is a good-for-nothing dolt with hair that is too handsome and a smile that is too charming. It annoys me. If I could smile, mine would scald his corneas with its radiance, blister his skin with its sunny glow. Hmf.
All day I am forced to watch them. He pulls her chair out for her and makes her laugh and listens attentively to her stories and is just an all-around jerk like that. The evening comes and he has the nerve to stay over, keeping her up all night with talk about their hopes and fears and dreams… What an ass!
She will come around, I just know it.
But she does not come around. He, on the other leaf, continues to literally come around all the time. Always, he is here. Yet throughout it all I have doggedly maintained my optimism. It is only on a fateful morning some days after the fiend’s arrival when I realize all of my longing has been for naught.
The day my apple blossom forgets to water me.
Where is our morning tradition, my love? Even with that buffoon around, you still saved these cherished moments just for me. With the rise of every sun this act gave me the hope to hold out for you. But today…
I yearn to cry out, Water! Water! But you do not notice. With two mugs of coffee you vanish into your chambers with nary a glimpse of my sill.
The next morning, you forget again. And the next. And the next.
By the fifth morning, I am brutally parched. Other plants may do well with this kind of fasting, but I have needs. I watch with desperation as you come in from your bedroom, frazzle-haired and grinning. You rifle through the kitchen. So close to the sink! So close! Please, I pray. Please oh please oh please oh…
Again! You have forgotten again!
Do you not see my wilting frame? My pale and crispened limbs? What about all that silent adoration I showed you? Does it mean nothing now? Nothing?
The morning becomes afternoon, and as you depart with him from our home, I realize the time has come for me to accept my insignificance.
You never loved me.
You never will love me.
The breeze flows in through my open window. I look out upon the city, the view vast from this height. My gaze drifts down to the sidewalk below.
Perhaps it will be a quick death.
Much quicker than this dehydration wasting me away.
What choice do I have? It is either this or continue watching, fatigued with thirst, as he holds you with arms I do not have and never will.
Suddenly… For the first time in my life… Something begins to move. My stems and roots all surge with will. My ceramic pot begins to shake. Then—oh! A tiny jolt! And then… A bigger one! Despite its heavy weight my pot shifts closer to the open air until it teeters on the edge of the sill.
Just a bit more… Just a little bit more, and…
As I fall, hurtling towards the concrete, I have one brief moment of thought as the scenery rushes past, as the ground comes nearer, as two figures below move into the corner of my vision… In that warped flash of time that feels longer than it really is, I think, Maybe he is not so bad. He will give her what I cannot. If I truly care about her, then I will wish only for her happiness.
With this thought, I am at peace.
Not a second later the two figures, strolling arm in arm and completely oblivious, step into my path.
No no no stop—!
My pot breaks with a crash upon her head.
Soil is everywhere.
From her supine position on the reddening pavement, her eyes stare unblinking at the sky.
Green, green eyes.