The Exotic Fantasy Flower
I looked up as I walked by, and saw the wilted plant. How forgetful of me. It hadn’t been watered for more than three months. I concluded from this oversight, after seeing the condition of a lone blossom, that the beautiful thing had died. The large delicate petals had begun to fold inward and wither.
Carefully taking the pot in one hand while draping the near-lifeless vine across an arm, I rushed the thing to the kitchen table, wondering why I stored it on top of our white refrigerator in the first place. Sunlight never reaches there, but I didn’t dwell on that.
First I fetched the watering jug. A quick shot into the container, and then a brown liquid swirled around inside, kicking up a miniature but brief wet dust storm. I sat for a minute to watch it settle. Then pinching the slender stalk gently and lifting the plant, I examined its roots.
Matted together, the mossy wetness looked healthy enough, but then to my sudden surprise, I noticed the flower had already unfurled. Four inches across, its lavender face lifted and stared up at me indignantly. I immediately knew what it wanted, so I replaced the roots back into the water with great hope.
But once more the water swirled, becoming opaque and brown. Now wait a second, I thought. What’s going on here? I leaned closer as silt fell to the bottom, and waited for the water to turn clear again.
Then I saw them.
Three tiny creatures appeared to be running in circles, moving with the flow of enclosed liquid. A larger one clung to the side, just above the waterline. I removed it with a finger and held him close to my face for inspection. From his unique marking I recognized the larval stage of the Japanese Aquatic Dancing Wilt, a ferocious foe of the Exotic Fantasy Flower, so I killed him.
After dropping his squashed carcass in the garbage, I turned around. Silly plant. It had left its container. I saw it crawling slowly up the wall, heading desperately for light streaming from a near-by window. I captured the vine quickly and inserted the roots back into the container.
Again the water swirled. I planned on dealing with them later, but first to the needs of my baby.
One high and recessed window looked safe for the plant. While standing on a chair and coaxing things into place, the wife walked in holding my son’s hand.
“He lied to his teacher today.”
“I’m having troubles with this plant, dear.”
“But he lied.”
“Fine. Send him to the den and let him get on the computer. Have him type out an apology.”
While he busied himself, I recounted to her the latest news, during which she suggested I go and check our son’s progress.
Putting the tale on hold, I walked past the refrigerator and into the den.
I knew in an instant something was wrong. On the desk sat the industrial-looking startup monitor. The regular one was gone. So was the tower and the keyboard. The desk looked bare except for the cockeyed minute metal box facing me. When I turned around and saw the up-turned table and the scattered and emptied drawers, my suspicions that we had been robbed during the brief conversation were confirmed.
And then the shock of it all woke me up.