Friday, August 10, 2012

The Friends

look at them! look!  cries the invisible child, shrill-voiced, agonized.  the woman is startled. this is not how the invisible child acts. what's wrong? she asks, but her friend just points to the wall. look at them! she repeats.

the woman looks and sees only a dull-brick building with gray windows.  in one of the windows is a thin plant, probably plastic.  the wall reeks of neglect--weeds climb up, vining where they can, passing indifferently over the lowest of the filthy windows.  no sign of people or pets. the building isn't even interesting enough to be ugly, and its degeneration doesn't speak of lives once lived and faded away, of human history abandoned.  the woman can think of no reason to look at it with pain or pleasure or even conscious indifference. finally she asks irritably, what am i supposed to be seeing?

they're separated! they can't even see each other any more!   all the world's sadness moans through the invisible voice--gloom, loneliness, the rack of the world pulling self from self.

and still the woman cannot see. what? what? she keeps asking echoes of the unseen grief.

the plant, whispers the child.  look at the plant!

the woman looks to the one living window. the plant, she now sees, is not plastic; the leaves are simply dulled with neglect. the dirt she cannot see has dried out.  yes, the plant, it seems to be dying, she says tentatively.

of course it's dying, the child cries, anger and anguish blending  jaggedly. they took its soul away!  she points to the twisting leaves below. vaguely the woman remembers the last time she passed this wall.  the weeds were lush, they covered everything, reaching nearly to the roof.  someone had cut them down and now, again ignored, they were tortuously climbing back up.  but they were no longer higher than the windows.

they were friends, the invisible child says sorrowfully, hopelessly.  the weed grew just up to the middle of the window and stayed there, while the others grew higher.  the weed and the plant were together, always together. no one bothered with them, weeds or people.

a worker in overalls walks by, and the woman talks to him.  does he work in this building?  oh no ma'am, he laughs. no one works there, not in all the years i've been here. old wreck of a building, not much left of it..  they'll be tearing it down soon, build a parking lot.

but the plant in the window, who owns it?

nobody. it just stays there. it'll go down with the building. smiles, nods, moves on.

but the weeds? she wants to ask.  what will they do with the weeds? no point; the man has gone and the question is foolish anyway.

oh don't worry about the weeds, the bitter invisible voice hisses. they won't die. people think they kill weeds, but they never really do. you'll see when it's a parking lot--you'll see the weeds sneak back, cracking through the stupid cement. the weeds will come home. but the friends won't be together, ever again.

and she's gone. the woman stands trembling. she watches the no-longer-there building, the blind emptiness around her.  the weeds will come back, they always do, she repeats to herself.  the invisible child will show up again, she always does.  the friends, she prays, will somehow reconfigure.   she leaves the path and walks toward the traffic, the crowds, the fast food chains, the lottery office.  she can't remember why she was on the alley road to begin with. maybe to say goodbye to a drying dying plant she'd never met, to a weed hopelessly climbing. there is a bus stop on the corner; she walks toward it gratefully.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I get that this is not completely or maybe at all about the plant. But it reminds me (not that I needed reminding) of my (2) plants that I recently lost. I went away on vacation and my pet sitter was to water all my beloved plants that I have grown from seed. I don't really know if they were over or under watered. But they, were delicate. I managed to love and care for them enough for them to provide delicious to me in exchange for there care. Sad, death, endings, even when they provide new beginnings. We never fully know what friendship or plants, or weeds mean to another until the end comes....even when it is time to move on. I loved the post!