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The International Writers Magazine: Real Life

The Plant
• Martin Green
    “That plant of yours don’t look too good, Roy.   How’re you feeling?”
Roy Blake and the other four old guys were gathered in his living room for their bimonthly poker game.  Roy looked over at the plant on the table next to the TV and had to agree it wasn’t looking too well.


Not for the first time, he regretted mentioning to his buddies that he knew it was a silly notion but somehow he felt that as long as this plant stayed healthy so would he.  He now had to take a ribbing every time he hosted the poker game.

     “I feel fine,” said Roy.  “I’ll give it a little water later.  Let’s play poker.”  As host, he announced the first game and dealt.  Their game had been going on for almost three years now, he figured, or just about the time since Alice had passed away.   The players, like himself, were all in their seventies and all had their health problems.  Although he’d said he was fine, Roy’s arthritis had been acting up this winter and the medications he was taking didn’t seem to be working.   Well, poker was a diversion; for a while he’d concentrate on his cards and try to forget his aches and pains.  But, he had to admit it, he was uneasy about the condition of his plant.

     He wasn’t sure why he’d associated his well-being with that of this particular plant.  It was all mixed up with his wife Alice, who’d loved buying plants for their house and had spent a lot of time on this one because it had seemed sickly and she’d nursed it back to health.   He didn’t even know what kind of plant it was but Alice had given all of their plants names.  This one was Elsie.  Luckily, he hadn’t told his buddies about the name or he’d really be taking a ribbing.

      While the game went on, Roy and the others  had their usual conversation, which was mostly about their latest health problems.     One of the guys, Jack,  was going to have surgery in the spring.    He’d been planning to go on a cruise but had to cancel.    “You should go on a cruise, Roy,” he said.    “Get you out of your rut.   You haven’t gone anywhere since Alice, have you?”

     “I’m too old to travel any more.”

     “Go on.    Anyone can go on a cruise.”

     “Maybe.    Whose deal is it?”

     Roy’s retirement community was in Roseville, just outside of Sacramento, California’s capital.     He didn’t like to drive much any more so rarely got into Sacramento, but his grandson Kyle, who worked in a State office, came out to his house every now and then to help him out with things.     Kyle was still in his twenties, a nice kid, Roy thought, who should have a girl friend but who seemed to be content with his single life.     On this Sunday, Kyle had raked up the leaves in Roy’s back yard and fixed the fountain, whose water had stopped flowing.     Now they sat in the living room with a football game on the TV.

     “How’s that plant doing. Grandad?” asked Kyle.

     Kyle had been told by one of Roy’s buddies about his grandfather’s plant superstition but didn’t kid him about it.     “Not too good.    I keep hoping it perks up.”

     “But you look okay.    No new aches?”

     “No, just the same old ones.     Any new girl friends?”

     “No, just the same two or three.”

     “You should really think about settling down.”

     “I’ve got plenty of time.   Besides, then I wouldn’t be able to visit you that often.”

     “I do appreciate your coming out here and helping with things.”

     “It’s no problem.  You know, you should  get out this spring, maybe go on a cruise.”

     Funny, thought Roy, that was the second time recently someone wanted him to go on a cruise.     Maybe he should try it.   But who’d take care of things while he was gone?   And what about the plant?

     As if reading his mind, Kyle said, “I can take care of the house while you’re away if that’s what’s worrying you.”

     A cruise, to somewhere nice and sunny.  It had been raining most of the last week.  It was a tempting thought.   “I’ll think about it,” he said.


     So, how was the cruise?” asked Kyle.    He’d picked up Roy at the airport and was now driving him home.

     “I have to admit I liked it.  They treated you like royalty on the ship.  Er, how’s the house?”

     “The house is good.    And so’s the plant.”

     “It wasn’t looking so hot when I left.”

     “Well, it’s perked up, just like you.    You’ll see.”    

     When they reached the house, Kyle brought in the luggage.  Roy turned on the lights and looked around.   He made a point of not seeming to look at Elsie first but after flipping through the mail and newspapers Kyle had neatly arranged on the dining room table he looked over at the window and was shocked.   Elsie was blooming as never before.   He went over for a closer look.  No, it was true;  Elsie was rejuvenated.

     Kyle brought out two beers and they sat while Roy gave Kyle all the details of the cruise.  Finally, he said, “Er, Elsie, I mean the plant looks pretty good, better than ever.”

   “Yeah, she does look okay.”

   “Thanks for taking care of it, and the rest of the place.”

     “No big deal, glad to do it.  Oh, I have someone, a girl I met, I’d like to bring out sometime for you to meet.”

     “Sure, any time.  I’ll buy you guys lunch.”

     “Okay.   Well, I better get going.  You must be tired.”

     “I am, a little.  Thanks again.”

     After Kyle left,  Roy walked over to the plant again.  He knew that the old Elsie was gone and that Kyle had bought a new plant. He really was a nice kid. He hoped he’d found a nice girl.  As for himself, he guessed he’d survived Elsie’s passing. He’d call the new plant Elsie II, in his mind anyway.  He didn’t think he’d have to worry about Elsie II getting sick or dying and if that would affect him; the new plant would surely outlive him. Anyway, he didn’t feel too bad. He’d call the lady he’d met on the cruise and who lived not too far away the next morning.

© Martin Green Feb 2014  

Really Old
Martin Green

My day usually begins with a slight jolt when I see myself in the bathroom mirror.   Who is that bald old guy with the bumps on his head and the funny-looking ear...

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