Before he was even out of bed in the morning, one of the first things on Jon’s mind was his bamboo plant. Not because he particularly cared about it, but because it was right there, a few feet from the foot of the bed, waiting for the blinds to be raised so it could get a little sunshine.
The bamboo was almost four feet tall, quite a change from the eight inch stick he’d bought at an Ikea in Montreal a few years before. It had sat pleasantly on his desk for a couple of years, until it died. Jon took it outside and dumped it onto the compost pile in the backyard and forgotten about it. At the end of the summer, he’d noticed that it wasn’t dead after all. Lying on its side, roots partially exposed, it had been green and alive, fed by sun and rain and coffee grounds. He’d repotted it and brought it back in the house.
Because of this miraculous resurrection, Jon took the bamboo plant for granted. He watered it when he thought of it, but his office got very little sun. Didn’t matter. He treated the plant as if it was indestructible, which is generally a bad way to view a living thing. But his view was reinforced. The damned thing just kept on not-dying. Until a month ago, when it started re-dying.
“Oh, Bam-Bam,” Jon mumbled at the plant as he pulled up the window blind. He didn’t call it that out of affection, he just liked giving things nicknames. He ran a hand over the wilted plant, three long shoots of sagging bamboo, strapped to a stick with garbage bag twist-ties to keep it upright. The plant slumped against the wall, seeking support. He’d finally moved it into his bedroom last week because it was the sunniest room in the house. He’d also cut away a bunch of the dead yellow leaves, and what remained was a pitiful sight. It probably needed a bigger pot or something. He kept meaning to Google that. Jon grabbed the spray bottle off the floor and started strategically squirting his flaccid plant, careful to not overspray and hit the old wallpaper.
“You’re gonna dieeee, Bam-Bam,” he said in a mean but sweet tone. “You’re gonna die and no one’s gonna remember you. You’re gonna die and no one’s gonna notice you ever existed.” Jon wasn’t sure why he said that, but he did. He was still half-asleep, standing there in his boxers at 6:30 in the morning, holding a spray bottle and talking to a goddamned plant. He sighed a big sigh and rubbed his eyes.
“What is this day going to bring us, Bam-Bam? Satisfaction? Accolades? Eh?” He couldn’t think of a third thing to say, so he just said ‘Eh.’ He ran a thumb over a leaf, wiping away a light layer of dust. He assumed dust was probably bad. It probably clogged plant pores or something. Plants have pores, right? “Death,” he continued, undaunted. “Today will probably bring us death. Goodnight, Irene. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. Sweet Dreams, Aremade-O-These.” He was talking nonsense, feeling punchy, and wanted to go back to bed. He was self-employed. Why not?
The earth finally rotated just enough to reveal a sliver of the sun over his neighbor’s roof, allowing it to shine through the window onto Bam-Bam’s wet, still-green leaves. It made everything seem very alive and rainforest-y to Jon. It made him hopeful. Optimistic. Jon shifted his weight onto one leg and assessed the listing bundle of green and yellow vegetation.
“I’ll bring you some water, Bam-Bam.” He won’t. “Everything’s gonna turn out fucking great.” It won’t.
Originally published in Meat For Tea