Charlie’s Room: The Plant

One day, when Marianne was with Charlie at swim practice, Isaac couldn’t find his trusty dictionary. He’d used it to steady a chair he was gluing back together, but it wasn’t where he’d left it. Maybe some helpful person had put it on a shelf somewhere.

Isaac checked the bookshelf in the living room, and the bookshelf in the kitchen, and the bookshelf in the hallway, and the bookshelf in his bedroom.   Next on his list was Charlie’s bookshelf. Isaac crossed the room and paused.

There was a plant he’d never seen before sitting on Charlie’s bookshelf.   It had light green tendrils like a soft aloe plant or a droopy spring fern. He brushed his fingers across it and it almost seemed to cling to them.   Huh. Isaac checked the shelves and found his dictionary.

Isaac left to glue together the next wobbly kitchen chair. He could only fix one chair at a time so that there were still enough chairs to sit on at meal times.

At dinner he asked Marianne and Charlie about the plant. “What plant?” Marianne asked.

“I found it on the doorstep when I got home,” Charlie said.

“Bring it out and put it by my orchids,” Marianne said. The kitchen window gets the best sun.” Charlie brought it out and Marianne admired it and set it in a sunny spot.

“I wonder what it is,” Charlie said. “Do you think it’ll bloom?”

“I think most plants do, dear,” Marianne said. “It really is a pretty plant. I wonder who left it for us. Was there a note?”

“Nope,” Charlie said.

“I’m sure we’ll figure it out,” Marianne said.

That night, Isaac woke in the middle of the night. He couldn’t remember his dream or what woke him, but he was wide-awake. He decided to get a drink of water.

Outside, a streetlight glowed. Inside, so did the open refrigerator. The empty crisper drawer was on the floor. A thin trail of dirt led from the new plant to the refrigerator. A thicker trail of dirt led to the open back door. The new plant was sitting noticeably lower in its pot.

Isaac put the crisper drawer back in its spot and closed the refrigerator.   He followed the dirt to the back door.   The fruit bowl that they kept on the counter by the door was empty and on the floor. He picked it up and then stepped outside.

There was a fresh mound of earth next to the flowerbed. Isaac stepped back in and closed the door. He swept up the dirt and tipped it into the new plant’s pot. “I don’t think most plants are sentient you know, so I don’t think they suffered. I don’t know if that makes you feel any better.”

The new plant’s tendrils shuffled, just a little.

“Honestly, I’m very fond of plants. Would you like a drink of water before I go to bed?” Isaac checked the soil, but it seemed fairly moist. “No?   Well, I’ll see you in the morning,” he said.

In the morning, the new plant and all of Marianne’s orchids were gone.   Marianne looked around the room in shock. “Where are they?” she asked.

“I think they’ve gone to a better place. So has all of our fresh produce,” Isaac said.

“Honestly, Isaac,” Marianne said. “Just tell me where you put them. The orchids won’t do well outside for very long.”

“Have you ever wondered if some plants are sentient?” Isaac asked.

“Never mind,” Marianne said. “I imagine you knocked them down or something, and you’re too afraid to tell me.   Just go out and replace them.   And the food too.”

“I’ll make a list,” Isaac said.