This week’s Tuesday Tale:
Brittany picked up the aloe vera plant from the window sill. The plant was vigorous and healthy. It was the epitome of a plant cared for by a botanist. Brittany took the plant from it’s favored microclimate by the south bay window and took it out into the harsh March wind on the back porch. She carried the pot to the corner where she had taken the others. She would not like to admit that she gave the plant a sorrowful look and let a sigh escape her lips before she turned the pot upside down and shook it until the contents loosened from the plaster clay mold and dropped mercilessly into the trash can. The plant and soil spattered in a glob with the others that had gone before.
There, that was the last of it. The horrid last of it, Brittany thought. She really did not like the task of throwing out her mother’s plants, but what else was one to do? Brittany was flying back home in three hours. She checked her watch again. She needed to call a cab. She dialed the number while cradling the clay pot against her stomach. The empty weight of it made her feel uneasy so she sat it down and walked inside. There was no need to dump the plants like that, but Brittany felt there was. She couldn’t explain it, of course, but she needed to know that the plants were treated just as she had been. There was justice in that act. Those damn plants had… Brittany stopped. She really shouldn’t sink to being jealous of plants, but the fact remained.
The taxi blew its horn. Brittany locked the door and carried her bags to the cab. She packed light because there wasn’t much one needed on a trip like this. She had one carry-on luggage and her purse. She thought about taking a few of her mother’s things, but then she would have had to check in luggage. She did not want the headache.
The cab driver looked like he’d spent the last five to ten on the wrong side of iron bars. Brittany didn’t notice. She had grown up around such men. As long as they didn’t touch her there wasn’t a problem.
“You in a rush?”
Brittany checked her watch again. Surprisingly she was not. “No.”
The cab pulled out into the street. The driver didn’t say another word until they arrived at the airport. She paid him, tipped him a little extra and hoisted her bags over her shoulder.
The flight back to Italy was long. It always was long. Canada to Italy. She pulled the folded envelope from her purse and broke the seal. They had asked her to read it before she left, but she hadn’t. There were four pages. Brittany flipped through them quickly and then started reading from the beginning. The handwriting was gnarly and the paper smelled of her mother’s addiction. The words were not any more appealing. Brittany crinkled the papers back into her purse. Was it not enough to ask her to fly home to bury her mother? She didn’t want to read the letter. She’d read her mother’s will, she didn’t need any personal sentiments.
Brittany looked up at the flight stewardess.
“Miss, would you like a snack or anything to drink?”
The cart was full of can of sodas, apple juice and little bags of crackers.
Brittany shook her head. “No,” she said.
The cart moved on.
Her aisle neighbor leaned towards her.
“Excuse me, but aren’t you the French artist Elendora Basso?”
Brittany shook her head. Great, now she would be awkwardly ignoring the guy for the rest of the flight. There was nothing worse than being mistaken for a famous person. Brittany wished she had a book to read. She pulled the letter back out just to give the appearance she was busy. It didn’t work.
“Are you related to her? You look so much alike?”
Brittany put down the papers.
“No. I’m not her nor am I related to her. I don’t even know who that is.”
The guy smiled.
“I don’t know who she is either, I made her up. But she got you to speak to me.”
Brittany rolled her eyes. Another big shot flirt.
“Listen, this is a very long flight. One that I really don’t want to be on. My mother just killed herself in Canada and I’m headed back home after a headache of a weekend. I’d like to rest now.”
He was really thick not to catch her request to back off.
“From the look of your nails, you must have buried her yourself.”
Brittany looked down at her fingers. The potting dirt caked under her normally elegant nails and the the soil stain her pale hands. Her neighbor was a real class act for noticing.
“Potting soil. Mother had a lot of house plants. I had to throw them away.”
“How did she die?”
“Overdose, suicide, depression — take your pick,” Brittany sniped at his bold question.
“My condolences. That’s a hard way to see your own mother go.”
“I didn’t see her go. I’m her only known kin so they made me come back to settle her affairs.”
“And that involved throwing out the house plants?”
“Of all the random talents, she had a green thumb. A harsh tongue, a painful slap and a knack for attracting the wrong guys, but a green thumb.”
Brittany wiped the tears off her face. She remembered how her mother could talk so sweetly to those little green leaves, watering each with care and then lash out at Brittany if she came home five minutes early from school. She remembered one day she came home early from half day at school, one her mother forgot about. Brittany was old enough to know what her mother was doing, why a “plumber” was leaving their house when she arrived. Brittany picked up her mother’s prized plant, a bonsai tree, the one her mother told her was delicate and she wasn’t allowed to touch. She picked up the pot and threw it at the door the man had just exited. The pot shattered. The dirt splattered the carpet. Her mother burned her for harming the plant, yelling with horror that the plant had cost more than Brittany’s college fund. Brittany knew such an account didn’t exist and paid mother’s outrage little heed. She harmed others and each shattered pot and broken plant brought a severer punishment. There was no limit to her mother’s abuse and no end to influx of plants or men.
Brittany’s aisle neighbor pulled out a tissue and passed it to her. She took it from him with embarrassed gratitude.
“And did you inherit her green thumb?”
Brittany shook her head.
“I hate plants.”
“I would think you might.”
He leaned back in his seat. Brittany crossed her fingers that he would leave her alone now. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about her circumstances. She clenched her jaw, determined to read her mother’s last words. The reflections of a suicidal mind made her nauseous and Brittany nearly quit reading, but she scanned the next page. Something in her mother’s tone had changed in the last paragraph. It was more sober and Brittany read each word carefully as the penmanship had weakened with the length of the article. “I know how you hate my plants so I am not surprised that you threw them out. Had you loved me you could have preserved them and sold them to the Kensington Botanical Society. I don’t have anything to leave you but those dear plants and you would have been compensated handsomely. Ah, but I know you and oddly, I find happiness knowing that you will throw them out like trash.”
It would indeed be a long flight home.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the artwork this week thanks to the lovely Courtney Boose! Hopefully, you will have the pleasure of seeing more of her work featured here.