This little piece of flash fiction comes to you from Woegman’s World of Witty Wonder and his Turn-a-trope Tuesday. For this one, we had to take the trope “unwanted revival” and turn it on it’s head, or something. Basically, the trope is when a character is dead or comatose and not happy about being revived. I wasn’t planning on doing it, but I wanted a challenge and I had a rather slow day. Once I started thinking, it didn’t take long for this to reveal itself.
One thing I am learning, though, is that I seriously dislike coming up with titles. I’ve titled a few other flash fiction pieces on my blog that I wish were different now. I’m sure I will dislike this title in a few days as well, but I’ve got nothing, so it is what it is. 1013 words (I went a little over) that I hope fits the theme.
“Did you know it talks to me?”
Anna was sitting next to Jack on the couch and looked up at his words. She followed his gaze to the spindly, green-brown plant sitting on the table looking half dead. It was tilted at an awkward angle and looked like it might collapse at any moment. Why she hadn’t disposed of it to this point was beyond her. When she moved in a few months ago, she had asked if she could throw it out, but the only answer she received was a cold stare. So, it remained and continued to barely survive on not so regular glasses of water and small amounts of sunshine from the window next to the table.
She laughed. “That’s surprising, considering how much the thing gets watered.” She felt heat rising off him and wondered if she had pissed him off. “Are you sure we can’t just get rid of it? I don’t know if you’re going to be able to revive it at this point.”
“No. We can’t.” He stood up and went to the sink to fill a glass of water.
“You know, honey, I think I’ll go to the store and get a new pot and some fresh soil. Maybe it just needs a new home.” She must have surprised him. His head jerked up and he stared at her with a growing smile.
“You would do that for her?”
“Oh, it’s a ‘her’ now? Should I be jealous that not only is it still here, but it’s apparently talking to you too?”
“Come off it. A plant can’t be a ‘he’.”
“Sure it can. You’re just more comfortable with a ‘she’.” She winked at him and jumped up with the half-hearted idea of making her way to the store to buy new digs for his stupid plant. If she didn’t know better, she would think she was a tinge jealous of it. And, just for the record, she was not going to start calling it a she; not in this lifetime!
Anna grudgingly brought home a new pot and some potting soil that contained “everything necessary for a plant to thrive” and promised to “feed for up to six months”. Continuing her efforts to make Jack happy, she got to work and before too long, the plant was safely ensconced in its new home.
Standing back, she analyzed her handiwork and was surprised to see the thing was already tilting crazily to the right. She turned her head this way and that, studying it. It was almost worse than when it was in the old pot. She set it right and added a bit more soil, but as soon as she dropped her hand, the thing drooped to the right. Shrugging, she walked away to wash her hands. Maybe it just took time to assimilate.
She passed Jack as she was leaving the room. “Hey Babe, the plant is repotted and I gave it some water. The rest is up to you, big boy, cause I suck at keeping plants alive.”
He looked like he was deep in thought, and he kept walking as if he hadn’t heard. Rolling her eyes, she went into the bathroom and shut the door.
The new pot wasn’t working. It had been a month and the thing was even more brown and crackly than before the re-potting. Leaves were falling off at an alarming rate, and the crazy tilt had become a drape over the side of the pot. She had made a concerted effort to water it regularly but it didn’t seem to matter. The soil was always bone dry and it was starting to smell. Worse, gnats had taken up residence.
As if that wasn’t weird enough, Jack had completely withdrawn from her and was acting strange. Several times she had come across him staring at the plant, mumbling. When she asked what he was doing, all she got was a blank stare before he returned to his mumbling. He was currently at the table, softly caressing a leaf that looked like it was hanging on for dear life, gnats swarming around his hand.
He must have felt her gaze because he looked up at her. “She wants it back.”
“Who wants what back? What are you talking about?”
“What did you do with the old pot?”
“I threw it away. Why?” He went back to staring at the plant, his hand still rubbing the leaf. She took a deep breath when what she really wanted to do was throw something at his head. “Jack, are you okay? Please, talk to me.”
Without turning around he mumbled, “She doesn’t like it. She wants the old one back.”
“Are you kidding me? You are not seriously talking about the plant! What is wrong with you?” She stormed up to the table, pushed past him and grabbed for the plant. “I’m going to throw it away. This is beyond stupid…”
His hand grabbed her arm hard, cutting her off. “Don’t.”
She looked down at his hand restraining her arm and back up at him. “Do you even realize how crazy this is? How crazy you’re acting?” She yanked her arm out of his grip, grabbed her purse and keys and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind her.
In bed the next morning, Anna was lying on her side facing Jack. She knew he was awake, but his eyes were still closed. Not wanting to force the issue, she continued staring at him, hoping to find an answer to this terribly odd situation in the contours of his face. After a few moments, her gaze traveled down his neck, following the line of his bare arm as it rested above the blanket. Noticing something that hadn’t been there before, she sat up and leaned down to get a closer look. Inches from his arm, she went completely still. Was that a leaf?
Her eyes darted up and met his eyes now staring at her; they were eyes she no longer recognized.
Cold… Lifeless…. Green…