by Arnold Snyder
At my apartment, I told my new Megan to wait in the living room for me, while I went out to see Dusty on the balcony. I thought it might be better if I tried connecting with Dusty one-on-one before springing a new human on her.
“I have some Perrier here, Dusty. Please, let me water you.”
I’m sorry, Morgan, but no. No water. I won’t be changing my mind on this.
That was the greatest number of words she’d spoken to me all week. I took it as a good sign. It was a pleasant evening with a light breeze.
“This is so hard for me,” I said. “Some of your leaves are turning brown, mostly on the edges. You’re too dry, Dusty. When I look at you, I want to help you.”
So don’t look at me. You don’t have to watch. Take me out to the desert, out in Red Rock Canyon or Death Valley, and leave me. I’ll pass in peace.
Her voice sounded older, weaker, tired.
“I can’t abandon you,” I said. “Where do you get the courage to face death so nonchalantly?”
It’s simply the right thing to do. Something I should have done years ago. I don’t know why my soul was placed into the body of a plant, but it was a cruel mistake of nature. Kind of like a two-headed calf or a limbless dog. I should never have been allowed to live.
“That’s a horrible way to think of yourself. Can’t you think of how special you are. Think of yourself as having been touched in a special way by the hand of God. I wish there was some way I could give you my human body in trade for your plant body.”
That’s sweet of you to say that.
“I don’t mean it in any chivalrous sense. I envy you for not having to live as a human. I’d rather have your existence than mine. You have no idea how cruel and perverse humans can be. Plants have less horror in their lives.”
Less Horror? Do you have any idea of what total body paralysis feels like? Twenty-four-seven-three-sixty-five total body paralysis? Inability to move?
“I didn’t mean to trivialize your experience.”
Do you know how long it took the snout weevils to eat my mother?
“I never really thought about it.”
Take a guess.
“Two weeks?” I said, then thought better and said, “No … longer … two months?”
One day. About twenty hours. They work fast. They come in like the mob, ruthless, merciless bastards. They got one taste of her and they were high-fiving each other, couldn’t even believe they’d stumbled onto such a feast, free for the eating. Call all the boys. She had no defense.
“Let me give you just a little water, okay?”
I said no. Don’t make me spend my last few days arguing with you. If you water me one drop, I’ll never speak with you again. And I will die anyway. You can’t stop me.
“But you’re losing your color. I’m responsible for you.” I placed my hand lightly on one of the two leaves she told me were her breasts.
Don’t be so melodramatic, Morgan. I’m dying, that’s all. It’s perfectly natural. Do you know what the nicest thing about death is?
“You’re so cheerful these days. I brought a friend over to see you. She’s a transplant like me. Her name’s Megan also. She asked me to introduce her to you. Is that okay?”
Of course it’s not okay. I’m not receiving guests at a time like this.
“She’s never met a woman trapped in a plant’s body before. But she’s a transplant, Dusty. You can talk to her and she can hear you. I’m going to bring her in here to see you. If you don’t want to talk to her, I can’t force you.”
Do not bring her in here. I don’t want to see your new girlfriend. You want me to be pleasant and chatty with my replacement?
“She’s not my girlfriend.”
Maybe not yet, but you’re working on it. It’s written all over your face who this girl is to you. And I don’t want to look at her.
“Look, Dusty, I’m going to bring her in here to see you. If you can’t even say hello to her, that’s your choice. Go ahead and be a bitch. She’s a very nice person and she’s not my girlfriend. She’s just another transplant.”
Go to Chapter Fourteen