Stolen Plants

Reads: 96  | Likes: 8  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 2

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Plant Thief aka PT, Lenny, Bard and Toddler live in Nora's house.
This evening, Doctor Zombie visits for dinner.
Just another day in the tiny house on the riverbank.

This time it was so heavy that she couldn’t carry it even for 5 minutes without having to put it down and flex her wrists.

The irony, though, she thought. A theft of that scale and it hadn’t ever been easier to make it happen.

Somehow they do notice small elegant ones, fragile and delicate. Immediately turning suspicious, nosy and rude. But try to take the massive ones with branches bigger than hands, stretched as in a desperate invitation for a hug, they won’t cast you a glance.

For the tenth time, she put it on the ground, caught a breath and looked down at the yellow sad leaves.

“What a pity they didn’t even care to ask me about you! What an ignorance. Just only you weren’t that heavy! Anyway, you’ll very soon have a home and a loving family!”

She entered her little studio in the tiny house on the riverbank opposite to which factories were coughing right into the sepia sky. It wasn’t a real studio of any sort, but an old pigeons’ attic turned into a living place, a rather nice one, truth to be told. She carried it onto the balcony and placed between Dinosaur and Greedy.

“These will teach you to be selfish, watch out,” she said cheerfully, being obviously relieved that the whole affair had been successful.

She then took a wet cloth to wipe the pot, another one to clean the leaves from the dust and dirt. A few disturbed flies tornadoed up in the air and unable to understand what happened to their cozy spot proceeded in a panic right away. She took the prepared bottle with the vitamins and minerals to water the pot.

The studio, which she was occupying, had a steel staircase running down and facing a door made of the same metal, which was to prevent the access to the apartment below. However, this time it was left open. That's how Lenny entered the attic. Lenny was a teenager, who looked as eleven years old, talked as thirty years old and breathed heavily as an old man. In fact, no one was sure how old the boy was; his own guess was fifteen, but there is only so much one can guess about himself.

 “Yet another one,” he commented in a voice both adult and childishly amused; in a voice that cracked in the middle of the word as a dry stick.

“Lenny,” she turned around in the cloud of the flies, water spills, soil grains, and tangible joy, “Couldn't pass by it, you know! This plan took me a long time to realize, and they didn't even pay attention to this monster in my hands! It was so lonely, abandoned and sad. I just wouldn't be able to forget about it even if I wanted to. But now it's home!”

 “I soon won't be able to go up the stairs, that's for sure. You'll need to expand the balcony which you don’t even have!”

“I know, I know! Don't you be grumpy, Lenny. But who will take care of them if not me, who will save them and love them?”

“Yes, wondering the same thing about you. Alright, whom I have the pleasure to welcome to Plant Thief's home?”

“Mr. Lochness the junior.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Lochness the junior! So, PT, want to have a smoke?”

“I thought you quitted smoking, it's no good for your throat.”

But Lenny already turned his back to her and climbed through the small window next to the bed onto the roof, stepped a few meters to the left, found a dry spot, sat down and spread his legs.

She appeared at the windowsill with a big frown on her face, examining the boy, and after a moment of hesitance joined him.

Lenny passed her a cigarette. They lit it and sent billions of light bulbs in the sleepy air.

He turned his head and peered through her window. Plants were everywhere: on the desk, étagères, little ladders, shelves of all sorts, crowded in groups in the corners, sprinkled under the ceiling trying to touch the floor. The balcony was the most picturesque of them all: it had a triangle shape, too tiny even to be called a balcony. Mr. Lochness the junior took the last empty spot there, and now the whole space looked like a jungle pyramid.

“I think,” he exhaled grey cotton of smoke, coughed too hard and too long, spat from the roof and continued, “so I think you'll never stop. You will keep stealing these plants until you will have nowhere to sleep.”

“Once I see some of them revived, I will find new homes for them. It's a plant shelter, a rehab if I may. In places where they're not paid enough attention to, they die. Even I am not always able to save all of them. But if I see a case of mistreating, I'll make a plan and steal the plant to give it a chance of a better life.”

“Heard that hundreds of times,” Lenny muttered to himself.

She smiled when looking at him. Messy brown hair made of thousands of wires were tossed in all kinds of directions, big ears peaked through that mess. His hands were a bit trembling, and when he scratched his cheek still muttering something to himself, she saw the bloodstains on his palms.

“Lenny, what did Doctor Zombie say? Should you be back in the hospital?”

He turned his wire-haired head and looked at her, making it impossible to believe he was only 15.

“Today’s Nora’s turn to host the dinner. Your favourite Doctor Zombie will be there. Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

Lenny stood up and with surprising grace for his tall skinny teenage figure climbed back to the attic and without a stop proceeded downstairs, shutting the metal door behind him. The noise made the whole house shake as if it was made of glass. A few plants fell down from the wooden ladder.

---

There were mainly three reasons why Nora’s dinners were the best. First, she was the only one who could cook. Second, her apartment had the kitchen, and that itself could have been a reason for the first reason. Third, it was Nora who had found all of them, brought to that place and now was looking after them. So it would have caused great trouble not to show up for Nora’s dinner.

That night she made a crab salad, salmon lasagne, and her well-known all around the riverbank fig, raspberry & cardamom pie.

PT brought the apple cider she had made last autumn and Lenny brought the play cards he had drawn. There was also Bard, a 17 years old in a wheelchair, who did not need to bring anything but his tales. Toddler, a massive 20 years old fisherman with the face of a new-born, helped Nora with the dinner and, in fact, had provided with crab and salmon.

The Doctor was a young man in a wrinkled suit, who used to come every now and then to check the condition of the tiny house residents. They started calling him Doctor Zombie after finding out he initially had received an education as a medical examiner, and there was little he could do to change the opinion of the tiny house residents about him. Doctor Zombie, in their eyes, was only able to bring in the aura of confidence and assurance that all people are mortal. Lenny grunted while making his way to the table when he saw the Doctor with the empty hands.

“Heard you stole another pot?” Nora asked strictly Plant Thief.

“Am I crazy? What would I still a pot for? I steal only real plants, and the pots they come in are just an accessory,” she rolled her eyes and continued helping to place the tableware.

“Child, I beg, save a place to sleep in the attic of yours. Without properly sleeping, you won’t be able to help the plants. Get your legs off the table, Lenny, show some manners,” Nora smiled at the Doctor nicely.

“Talking about getting off. PT’s rescues can occupy my place because it’ll be soon empty. Am I right, Doctor?” Lenny looked cheerfully at the man.

A heavy silence unhooded when everyone stopped doing their little rituals of setting the table. Noises paused, and even the outside world hushed itself to listen to the dining room in the tiny house on the riverbank.

The Doctor slowly took a glass of PT’s cider, sipped a bit and replied casually:

“I’m sorry, Leonard, if this is what you got from our afternoon discussion.”

“Bullshit,” the boy banged the table with his slim trembling hand.

Noises started off again, all at once, with everyone trying to fill in the silence gap. Nora hurried to finish the table set with a smile, which was vivid proof that her profession could have been anything but acting.

“Crabs are slow and even slower in a salad, yet we need to eat them while they’re still in there. Toddler did a great job of catching them, thank you, dear!”

 

“Have you ever heard of the tall, almost twelve feet, Baba wandering around the world?” Bard asked in his usual relaxed manner as if it was the continuation of some earlier conversation. The lasagne was gone, and the ginger tea was weaving hot clouds on top of the teacups. The appearance of the pie smoothed the atmosphere even further so that only occasional sharp glances from one table corner to another reminded of the recent thunder.

“Pardon?”

“The tall Baba, who lost her child long ago, and ever since has been searching for him. The trick is, her face is properly plain, and her only eye is placed on the top of her head. So she picks a random person she meets on the way, kisses him, shouts “That’s my baby!” and lifts a guy high above to see him properly with her eye on the top of her head, but after realizing he's not her child, she throws him down and continues the search.”

“Just like Nora does except for not throwing us away but keeping altogether,” Lenny stated after a huge gulp of the tea and a bite of the pie.

PT choked on hers and glanced quickly at Nora:

“So rude! Mind your business and finish your plate, please.”

Nora looked carefully at Lenny and laughed loudly, letting everyone else to smile as well. She managed to say between the bursts of laughter:

“This boy is such a pain in the ass! Oh my! So rude and so smart! Staring right into your core. Well, Lenny, just hoping I don’t have my only eye on the top of my head! That would be so uncomfortable to manage.”

She stopped laughing as quickly as she started. There were tears in her eyes, and it was hard to say whether they were from laughter or not. She leaned closer to the boy and hugged him tightly, saying “That’s my baby!”

 

The factories on the opposite riverbank stopped their diligent coughing when the sepia sky turned velvet grey covering the stone fists of the chimneys. It became confusing to recall which city you lived in when the nights were that dark, even which century, which planet.

Bard was sleeping slouching in his wheelchair and his young hairless face seemed deeply peaceful. He was most probably dreaming of all untold stories and tales that had awaited a hand to transcribe them. Toddler was watching TV and blocking the view with his massive figure so it was unclear which programme was on. Plant Thief and Lenny returned to the attic, and hidden in the jungle they were planning on another cigarette on the roof.

Nora and the Doctor were standing on the balcony observing everything and seeing nothing. They heard when the two on the top floor steeped on the rusty tiles, giggled as one of them slipped and started whispering between puffs of a cigarette. Nora stared at her cider glass, into the whirling of apple flesh and stars reflections when few tobacco ashes descended right into the amber substance. She shook her head, smiled and sipped more.

“What a Baba story, huh? Do you know what this legend is about?”

“Is it a legend at all? Seemed more like the boy’s imagination to me,” Doctor Zombie resembled his nickname like never before in the velvet cover of the night with the steel grey eyes flashing in the darkness. But the metal in his eyes warmed up when he looked at Nora’s puzzled face suggesting that he was human after all.

“It’s an old Buryat legend, and the Baba symbolises happiness in it. You know, how people feel about being happy. One moment you’re lifted up in the air, all blessed with that attention and affection of the destiny, and - boom! - another moment you hit the ground. Higher you’re lifted in that illusion of being a happiness’ child, the more painful the disappointment is afterwards. Bard is sharp, isn’t he?”

As if he heard his name, the boy, awake and casually pin ponging words with Toddler, started moving towards the door, and Nora hurried there to pull his wheelchair.

 

When Lenny went back to his apartment and this time shut the door gently, Plant Thief stood in the center of her attic in a small circle of the free space that was left there. She started taking the nearest plants and waltzing with them, unmistakably stepping between the pots, balancing, almost not touching the floor, and to finalise a circle, sending a kiss in the air to each and every one of them.

The lights were finally off in the tiny house on the riverbank when PT hit the hay at the window, which served as an exit to the rooftop. She fluffed her pillow and muttered to the green crowd looking more like the guardians in the dark:

“Sleep well. You too, Mr. Lochness the junior. Welcome home!”


Submitted: November 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Jana Avde. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

88 fingers

That was a unique interesting story you have written.

Wed, November 3rd, 2021 10:41pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much!

Fri, November 5th, 2021 12:47am

Facebook Comments

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by Jana Avde

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Book / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Mystery and Crime