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Plant Life

Being a plant is great.  Well…it can be.  Sitting in the sun, enjoying the fresh air all day long, drinking in the oxygen, soaking up the minerals in the soil, feeling the wind sway you this way and that…who wouldn’t like that?  

Houseplants.  Houseplants don’t get it.  Then again, how could they?  They sit by a window, if they’re lucky, get some water poured on their nutrient-barren soil if the human they live with happens to remember.  No wind, unless you count the air vent they sit under, which probably smells like dust and dead spiders.  

You know what I think it is?  Industrialization.  I think so many humans live in a world so full of metal and plastic, that they forget that plants are alive, too.  We have feelings, maybe more simple than theirs, but feelings nonetheless.  We need to be loved, we need good music and good food, we need to be allowed to grow and reach our full potential.

Now, I am just a dandelion.  I realize most humans don’t particularly appreciate me–thank goodness I’m a mountain dandelion and not a backyard dandelion.  I doubt having your head chopped off every week or so feels very good.  As a dandelion, I am among the more humble plants.  Sure, if I had my choice I’d be a magnificent sequoia or an elegant iris.  But I’m not, I’m a dandelion.  But I still love the sun on my face, good water in my roots, the wind in my petals.  

Not all of us get to be outside plants.  Some of us are houseplants.  Some of us start outside, and get forced inside.  As a plant, there really isn’t much we can do about where we are.  But even a houseplant can find something good about where they are.  In fact, houseplants have a lot of things we wild plants don’t.  They get to bring a little life to the stark, human world.  

I guess you can’t really blame the humans, either.  Sure, they can move about wherever they please, more or less, but the world they know is limited by their experiences, just like mine, just like a houseplant.  We depend on each other to expand and to brighten each other’s world.  

I’m just a dandelion–a weed, some people say.  But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as golden as me.  I will offer what I can offer, you offer what you can offer, and we’ll all be okay because I am me, you are you, and that’s what makes the world so nice.

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Friendly Stars

I couldn’t run forever.  I knew that, though my mind kept insisting I could, I really could.  If things don’t go your way, what else are you supposed to do?  Abandon ship, move on, try something new, right?  

The eviction notice on my door that morning was a bit of reality punching me in the face.  I mean, I understand it.  I’d evict me, too, if it had been a full three months since I’d seen a rent check.  Making and breaking the same promise ninety days in a row has its consequences.  I didn’t mean to, but the world seemed to be conspiring against me, and I was drowning in a flood of misfortune and unexpected, expensive events.

I sat by the lake, my toes just skimming the top of the water as I dangled my legs over the edge of the dock.  It was the last beautiful place in my world, and since it seemed I would be moving on soon, I wanted to visit it one more time.  Besides, I was tired of lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering where I would go next and if my 1982 Nissan Stanza, fondly named Stan, would even make it there.  The world felt like a cruel, bleak place.

The lake wasn’t huge.  It sat in a small basin, just a little ways outside of town.  There were trees all the way around it, and large boulders punctuating the shoreline here and there.  There was a large choir of frogs filling the air with their lovely raspy, monotone song.  The night was a clear one, and the stars were blazing overhead.  I’d never seen them quite so bright, not this close to town.  I scoured the sky for shooting stars.  Ever since I was little, I had a knack for spotting them.  People started to accuse me of making it up, since they never saw them, too.  Whatever.

After a while, I could see light brimming over the black silhouette of the largest hill.  At first I thought it must be the moonrise, but as it grew, I had a hard time accepting that the moon could produce so much light, even if it was full.  

Eventually, I began to make out what was rising.  It looked like an entire galaxy, an immense, swirling cluster of stars.  I stared, open-mouthed and frozen to the spot where I sat, as it grew out of the dark hillside and made its way over the horizon.  Then, after a few minutes, it just stopped.  Now, I’m not the most educated person in the world, but from what I remember learning about the world and space and whatnot, things, natural, normal things, don’t just stop moving in the sky.  Orbits, and all that, you know.  But this galaxy-thing did just that–just stopped.  

Still rooted to the spot, my eyes widened as I noticed one of the stars in the mass starting to grow.  I realized it wasn’t actually getting bigger, not physically, it was just getting closer.  I expected my heart rate to quadruple, but as it approached me, I felt calm, even…happy.  The star zoomed down towards me and the lake.  It landed, skipping like a rock, on the far side of the water.  It bounced over to me, playing on the water as it came, splashing, twirling.  

The glowing orb, about the size of a large pumpkin, came to a stop inches from my toes, still dipped in the water.  It started to spin, slowly at first, then faster and faster and faster!  As it spun it changed shape.  The orb elongated and grew tall and slender.  In a couple of moments, standing on the water in front of me was a small, gently glowing person.  He had a neck longer than most people I’d seen, and eyes much larger.  His ears jutted out from his head, and his feet were enormous relative to the rest of him.  He had a bit of a potbelly, on which his many-fingered hands were folded.  He wore a pleasant smile as he patted the water beneath him.  His smile grew at the sight of the splashes he made.  

“Oh, yes,” he said in a gentle voice, perhaps remembering why he had come.  He gave the water one last pat.  “So nice to see you, Stella.”

“Nice…to see you too,” I said, surprised to hear my own voice.  If you asked me, I would have thought I was speechless.  

“Just wanted to pop in and tell you what a wonderful job you are doing.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, wonderful indeed.  We’d take you home now if we could, we do miss you so, but no, seems we must wait.”

A million questions washed over me, but what stuck out in my mind was one word–escape.

“No, you can just take me now, things really aren’t going that well,” I told the little person.  I realize it wasn’t the most rational thing to say, but in my mind, at that moment, I didn’t really want to spend more time in the reality I was living.  Something new would be nice.  Slavery in outer space didn’t even sound so bad.

My visitor smiled.

“Stella, good doesn’t always translate to fun or easy.  If we took you home now, your training would not be complete, and what kind of a queen would you make then?  No, no.  You must stay here.”

Again, a few tiny questions popped up in my brain.  For some reason, I didn’t feel compelled to ask them.

“I don’t want to stay here.  It’s hard here.”

“Indeed it is.  But we’re always watching you, Stella dear, always rooting for you.  Perhaps it will be hard all the way through.  And the better and stronger you will be for it.  Well, better run, or I’ll be left behind!”

Sure enough, the galaxy-thing had started to sink below the horizon again.  My visitor started to spin.

“Wait!”

He paused, looking at me inquiringly.

“Why haven’t you visited me before?”

He smiled.

“Silly child.  We visit you all the time.”

Just then, what seemed like a thousand shooting stars streaked across the sky.  The little person grinned.

“They’ll get in trouble for that.  They were all jealous when I was picked to come down, couldn’t help but wave, I suppose.”

Looking up into the sky, I waved back in a daze.  When I looked back down, the person had become the spinning orb again, and then, in a flash, it flew back up into the sky to join the tail end of the mass of stars just before it disappeared behind the hill.

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Hello (thanks Adele)

“Hello?  It’s me…  Hello?  Can you hear me?”

With a gasp, I woke, swinging my arms to defend myself against whoever it was who had broken into my apartment and whispered in my ear.  No one…

I grabbed the old frying pan tucked between the nightstand and my bed.  I don’t have a bat, never played ball.  I guess a frying pan is sort of stereotypically a woman’s weapon, but hey, I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one.  I crept around my studio apartment, checking the bathroom, the closet, the kitchenette…nothing.  I checked the door, still locked, just like I’d left it.  Checked every window.  Locked, undisturbed.  Huh.  Must have been a dream.  But I could have sworn that was a real person, a real voice, right next to me.  With a sigh, I sat down on the couch clutching the frying pan to my chest.  After a deep breath or two, my heart rate slowed down enough to go back to bed.  

“Hello?  Don’t you think we should talk?  Can you hear me?”

Okay, that was no dream!  Hello?  Yeah, I can hear you, who are you, and why the heck are you in my apartment??  Where are you?!  You wanna talk, let’s talk!  

…nothing.  I checked under the couch, behind the clothes hanging in the closet, behind the shower curtain, in the coat closet…nothing.  Door, windows, still locked.  It was a woman’s voice, I could tell this time.  Maybe it makes me chauvinistic, but that was comforting.  I think I could handle a woman burglar.  Why the heck would a burglar, even if they were a woman, want to chat?  Must have been a dream.  Must have.

“Hello?  Look, I’m sorry for breaking your heart, but honestly it seems like you’re over it.  Well, I’m not.  Can you hear me?”

I had the frying pan under my pillow this time and swung it out and in every direction fast enough that I should have at least startled whoever was there.  No one.  This isn’t funny!  Mike, it’s you, isn’t it?  You planted a speaker, or something, when you were here the other night.  I know it’s you!  Joke’s up, you’re real good, but I figured it out, so knock it off so I can get some sleep, you freak!  And I spent the next hour searching for the speaker.  I even sliced open my favorite pillow.  You’re buying me a new pillow, Mike!  And it’s going to be months before you’re invited back here, pal!  I let out a long, irritated, exhausted sigh.  Who does that?  So rude.  So wrong.

“Hello?  I know there’s a lot between us…maybe too much…just answer!  Can you hear me?  I’m sorry!”

Ahhhh!!!!  Stop it!  STOP!  Yes, I can hear you!  What do you want?  I don’t know you, you didn’t break my heart, there’s nothing between us, everything’s fine, you’re forgiven, sure, whatever, now shut up!  Please!  Where are you?  Look, I won’t call the cops, I swear, just come out, you can leave, I can sleep, it’s great for both of us, really.  Hello?  HELLO??

Nothing.

“Hello?  Why don’t you answer?”

I tried the cold shoulder approach.  Sometimes that makes women shut up in protest, you know–if you won’t talk to me, I won’t talk to you.  Like they think they can wait you out, and that you care.  Ha.  Not this guy.

“Hello?  I’ve tried a thousand times to talk to you, why are you ignoring me?”

What!  Me, ignoring you??  Shoot…broke the silent streak…whatever.  Look, lady, get out of my apartment!  

“We’re running out of time…you’re running out of time…”

Yeah, you’re right, it’s three o’clock in the morning and I am quickly running out of time to sleep before I have to go to work.  Geez, lady!

“Hello from the other side…”

Eh?  Other side of what?

“Hello…”

Yeah, hi…

“…from the other side…”

Okay…

An hour went by…nothing, no more weird, random comments.  Whew.  Snuggling tight my frying pan, I started to drift off, thinking of just how to get my revenge on Mike.  

“HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE!”

With a yelp more fitting a puppy than a grown man, I jolted awake.  There, laying next to me on the bed, was a woman.  She wasn’t wholly solid, though.  She looked like a hologram or a projection, faded and thin and transparent.

Who the–?  What!  Ahhhh!!!!  

“It’s me, I know it’s been a while–”  She looked me in the eye and her overly dramatic sad, remorseful expression turned immediately to confusion, like I wasn’t at all what–or who–she expected to see.  “You aren’t–but, I thought–oh my goodness.  This is so embarrassing.”

Uh…yeah…super embarrassing…

She fumbled a few times over a few attempts to say something else before, after dawning once again the extremely melancholy frown and big, tearful eyes, she vanished.