Isaac wasn’t always a plant whisperer. It was a talent that came to him later in life. In fact, it began one day when Charlie’s school sold little plants as a fundraiser. Marianne had given him some money to spend, and Charlie came home with a miniature rosebush in a pot painted bright yellow. He showed it off proudly, and then left it on his windowsill and forgot about it.
One day, as Isaac passed by Charlie’s room, he thought he heard a voice inside calling for help. This was odd, because Charlie and Marianne were at Charlie’s swim practice. Isaac pushed the door open a little wider and stepped inside.
“Help me,” the voice said again. “It’s dark and cold, and I’m so thirsty. Please help.”
Isaac followed the voice to the windowsill. He looked at the plant. In his experience so far, plants didn’t talk. But perhaps he’d not been paying close enough attention. Or maybe he’d forgotten, because he was pretty sure this plant was calling for help.
Perhaps it was a special case, some sort of plant magic called forth in the plant’s last desperate attempt to stay alive. In any case, he couldn’t leave the poor thing to suffer. The window didn’t get enough sunlight, and the plant needed more water, too. He took the plant to the kitchen, gave it a drink, and left it in the nice, sunny windowsill above the sink. “Thank you,” the plant said, in a tiny cheerful voice.
It took two weeks for Charlie to notice his plant had moved. In that time, the plant hadn’t said anything else. It did start blooming again, though. It looked lovely.
“Hey, that’s my plant,” Charlie said. He put his plate in the sink and poked at one of the blossoms. “It looks a lot happier here. I kept forgetting about it in my windowsill.” He checked the soil and gave the plant a drink. “Thanks for moving it, Mom.”
Marianne shook her head. “It wasn’t me. It must have been your dad.”
“Really?” Charlie looked at Isaac. “Huh. Thanks, Dad.”
All was well for a while. But then, the cactus on his desk at work spoke up. “No more water. I’m going to drown. Wait a week or two.” Isaac pulled his hand back and the water in the cup he was holding sloshed around.
“Sorry.” Isaac put the cup down.
“Whatever,” the cactus said. “Just keep all that water to yourself.”
After that, he could hear all the plants talking. In front of his house, the grass roared in an ocean of united, tiny voices speaking in chorus. It was rather overwhelming at first.
The old oak tree across the street spoke softly and slowly, like a sigh. The spider plant in the living room was constantly calling out the baby spider plants to check on them and see if they’d found a new place to set down roots in the last five minutes or so. Isaac finally potted the little plants and gave them away at the office.
The little rose in the windowsill, once it finished blooming, was very chatty, constantly remarking on the temperature, the humidity in the air, and the quality of the sunlight. The cactus, once it was watered less, had a dry sense of humor that left Isaac chuckling into his spreadsheets at work. Who knew that plants had such different personalities?
The garden turned out to bring new challenges. While his allergies had kept him from fully participating in the gardening work before, his new talent made things much more difficult. At its peak, all the plants were constantly shouting to each other all at once. It was painful to try to listen to for any length of time.
One day, Charlie invited Isaac to come see how large his pumpkins had grown. Isaac followed him to the garden, where Marianne was already busy weeding. Around her, beans, squash, and corn were loudly singing songs about sunlight and rain, all at different tempos and in different keys. It was terrible.
Noticing his wince, Marianne sighed. “Are your allergies getting worse? It’s too bad. You do so well caring for the indoor plants. I’m sure you’d work magic in the garden. I don’t know how we never noticed how good you are with plants.”
“I think it’s a new talent, really,” Isaac said. “I wasn’t very good with them before.”
“Let’s get you a lot of indoor plants,” Charlie said. “Ones that you aren’t allergic too. It can be your indoor garden.”
Listening to the garden around him, Isaac could only imagine the cacophony of an indoor garden. He’d never escape the noise. “That’s all right,” he told Charlie. “I think I have all I can manage for now. It was a nice thought, though.”
Marianne nodded. “You do have to be careful with allergies.”
“That too,” Isaac said.