|Photo courtesy Diane Stephenson|
By Micki Peluso, excerpted from her blog, A Writer’s Journey
They don’t allow me plants in this dire, greenless place. I have no children to replace the ones I lost. Too long, I dwell in a carnival of maniacs and fools, endure the dulling drugs, the solitude, weeping through eternal night. And it’s all my husband’s fault.
He always hated my plants. He didn’t just dislike them, as one might a book, or painting, or a cold and rainy day – he hated them. I loved them as I would have loved the children we never had. I babied my houseplants, nursed them through root rot and mites, fed and pruned them and placed them in their favorite spots.
My Philodendron especially liked to sit on the warm place on top of the television set. The English Ivy preferred to dangle above the stereo and sway to the vibrations of the music. He was particularly fond of Bach. Some of my houseplants hung from the beamed ceilings in the living room. Some posed sedately on the window seat, watching out for strangers lurking about my home. The larger plants, mostly Rubber Trees and Palms, were content to stand erect, acting as my doormen. My house was filled with flora of almost every genus and I doted on them fondly. My husband hated every one.
“Why does this house have to teem with vegetation?” he constantly complained. “They’re running up my water bill! They’re using all my oxygen.”
His anger culminated on an otherwise ordinary Saturday night, for no reason I could foresee. He rose from his easy chair, brusquely shoving my Asparagus Fern away from his face, unaware she only meant to play, and headed for the kitchen. I hummed softly in an effort to ignore him and continued mixing up a batch of fertilizer. Stomping through the doorway, he kicked over my Fiddleleaf Fig tree with the tip of his work boot, and enjoying the look of horror upon my face, he smiled and went upstairs to bed.
I quickly righted my poor baby, crooning over him and carefully repacked the soil that spilled from his pot. The Fig tree sulked all night, with sagging leaves, his indignation clearly noted by his stance. Resentment built inside me slowly. By the evening’s end, it had grown to such proportions that I thought my chest would burst. My husband, while he made no effort to hide his hatred of my plants, had never harmed them until this day. I was filled with maternal rage and could not be consoled, not even by the caresses of my Purple Passion.
Fear, as well as anger, bode within my heart and I was frightened for all my plants. I felt no safety for them within my foliaged home. Nights that followed left me sleepless, filled with a restless urgency to protect them. I arose several times throughout the night to oversee them, remembering to leave the hall light lit; for my Palm Tree greatly feared the dark.
My husband made no apology, but in the days that passed he seemed contrite and even brought home a tiny cactus as amends. Perhaps he really was repentant. When it died two days later, he merely shrugged and said he lacked my green thumb. We lived in guarded accord, my plants, my husband and I. My babies were thriving and growing larger every day, drooping only in the presence of the master of the house.
Waxy Pink Begonias filled my home with splashes of color. The Snake Plants nearly reached the ceiling, while the Fiddleleaf Fig tripled his fullness, spreading his dark green branches to embrace me. Spider Plants, Coleus, and vines of all variety grew rich and full, crawling tentatively across my wooden floors. I was filled with love and pride.
On one particularly dismal evening, the harmony within my home was broken once more. My husband came home from work late and in a mood that made me wary. It seemed he’d had a bit to drink and did not see the offshoots of my Spider plant as they danced from the living room archway. He struggled blindly as the baby Spiders writhed about his face. I knew then this night would come to no good end.
He tore my lovely lady from her hook above the doorway, shredded her to pieces and smashed her into the wall. I shrieked and ran to gather up her remains. My heart pounded with love and dread, for I knew I could not save her. I took her babies from her, the ones that lived, and placed them in a vase of water, where they might grow again.
My husband cursed and staggered off to bed, swiping at whatever plant was in his way, kicking my Fiddleleaf Fig, yet again. My fury knew no end. I said nothing and with lowered head, tended my poor darlings; when I could do no more for them, I went to bed.
I did not sleep at all that night. My mind raced with thoughts of vengeance. Somehow, some way, my husband would never harm my lovelies again. By morning’s early light I knew what I must do and finally slept.
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