Plants, people & music
I really adore plants. Of any type, if that matters. Small ones you can barely see, ones that overshadow you. Dying ones, which cripple out complaints, and blooming ones, which let out strange green auras. There are so many types; my head wants to spin. So much variety. They all live along together in a quiet flow of calmness.
It’s especially nice when I find plants in unexpected places. I’ll turn into an alley- and there’s a plant crawling up the windows – oh how good, how pretty, I’ll say to myself. I let its greenness sink through my thin skin and into my veins. Maybe then I can feel a little worry-free from this life. Sometimes the plants exhale a blow of oxygen towards me as a thank-you. Then I feel grateful. Sometimes that makes my day.
. . .
I hurry a bit faster towards the Castars’ apartment. Ms. Castar has asked me to babysit her baby girl. Me, being slightly broke, did not deny such offer. I will exit that house with a little more money.
However, I know deep down I do have a slight thing against little kids, even worse, towards babies. They are so helpless! Useless! Not doing anything for the whole day… Then other people have to clean up their mess. What an annoyance!
Ms. Castar takes me into her little dimly lit apartment; I always think she’s a little too nice. A little too happy. A little too, everything. I like calling her Ms. A Little Too in my mind.
“You look wonderful today, Dana!”
“Thank you, Ms. A Little Too!”
“Have a great day!”
“Ok, you too, Ms. A Little Too!”
Do not get me wrong, I admire her. She seems like she is a much denser condensation of all uplifting things. She is a good person to be around. I find that her calmness rubs off onto me. Maybe she was a plant in her past life. That would make sense. I remember her style well. A branded scarf around her neck, a nice – but not too strong – aroma of daisies clinging to her neck.
This time she wears a loose sweater. It makes her look more motherly. I would just jump into her arms and bury my face into her warmness. Slightly flustered by my thoughts, I almost forget to say my good-bye when she leaves me with the house keys and a sleeping baby girl. Well, sleeping – but not for long.
Standing over the baby girl’s crib, I do try to find some kind of liking in her. “Hello there…” I say vacantly. Her big eyes open, they are black. My first thought is, I don’t like looking at her. So I brush her crisp hair away from her forehead and walk away.
I never had the time to really look at this little flat. If I could choose one color to describe this place, I think I would name the color brown. It’s quite an ugly color, isn’t it? But it’s warm.
Every room in this flat gives off a different type of brown feeling. A warm, brown feeling of a newborn life. A warm, brown feeling of a soft sighing leather sofa. A warm, brown feeling of an overhead lamp glowing. And the living room’s silence is heartwarming, almost.
I feel instantly drawn to the balcony – the plants overlook the reflective metal bar. My fingers ghost over the blooming buds. The balcony light floods through and seeps into the atmosphere.
The plants absorb the warmth in eerie stillness, and everything has a golden touch to it. I almost hear the newly manufactured tranquility pushing through the leaves and into the watery atmosphere of the terrace.
I would be perfectly happy sleeping here. This stillness seeping into me… It would do good to me.
When my hours are over, I thank Ms. Castar for the money and make my way down the apartment stairs. Each breath I take is very deep. The air feels a lot more different now. I feel like I just came out of a bubble. The air feels sweet, while the air in that apartment felt… savory. It’s lunch time.
. . .
I wrap the three roses confidently together and hand them to the little boy waiting over the counter. “It’s ten dollars, please.” I almost feel bad for asking. But it’s my business. I struggle with three jobs every day, hating to get up every bitter morning. This is my second one. Even though, to admit, I do find it quite enjoyable.
The boy is chubby. Pink cheeks and all. He fumbles out a folded ten-dollar note and hands it to me. He stays rooted to the floor, his hat tipping over his head slightly. I want to walk over to him and fix his hat.
I smile, “Who are those for?”
“For Mummy, it’s her birthday. Daddy said it would be very nice of me if I bought these… I thought your shop looked prettier than all the other flower shops, so I chose this.”
He is proud and I beam at him. Maybe children aren’t so useless after all…
“Oh, how nice! You’re a good kid.” I watch him as he twists his head around, looking at the vines climbing up the wall of my shop.
He looks at me, expressionless. I wait. My bones ache with happiness, just by looking at him. I don’t know why. He looks at me deep in the eyes. Strangely, I don’t feel uncomfortable at all.
There are no other customers in my shop right now. At the back of my mind I remember my tea set.
“Would you like to drink some tea with me?” I ask. This is not very typical of me. But I want to get to know this kind boy. He is also intriguing, I acknowledge. With his big brown eyes that just bare into me. He nods briefly.
“My name is Jason.” Simple. Neat. I like it.
We sit at the small table next to the full-length windows. We don’t talk much. We sip at our tea, trying to decode each other with mere looks. Soft piano music plays in the background.
I love piano.
Slightly swaying and humming to the tune, I lean back. What a nice afternoon.
Suddenly, I feel afraid. Afraid I won’t have a moment like this again. Just the feeling of utter calmness… Then I realize, I’m not afraid. I’m just lonely. I don’t have anybody. I try to latch onto people I meet in a fleeting second, trying to stuff this hole in my heart with them. It’s no use, I know. Because these people, they pass; they come and they go. People are ephemeral. People are poison. All you have is yourself.
“I want a plant shop like yours. When I grow up. It’s nice here.”
The little boy emphasizes every full stop, tasting every word out. Before I can reply, he’s bursting out of the shop in tiptoes, leaving half a cup of tea behind. The three roses are almost taller than him, slightly imbalanced. They weigh on his whole body. I watch him run away. What a good boy, I repeat as I clean up the mess of teacups.
. . .
The evening air is cool against my skin, so I tip my head back and feel it kiss my neck. I shudder, but I don’t zip up my jumper. City lights are closing with every step I take. I can almost feel the commotion of crowds. But right here, right now, not even a breath is to be heard. The moon isn’t out tonight, not that it even matters, I guess. Whatever. This will be my last, third, job of the day. Then the day’s over. I can head back to my flat later. Good. Whatever money I bring home every night will be that, and I can’t go back asking for more anyways.
The train station sits in a green light, oddly peaceful. Oddly pleasing to the eye. Even though, everybody knows the train station isn’t very nice to look at. But with people, each adding their very own color of illusions, the train station is beautiful.
I succumb to the sweet whirlwind of people coming and going in a rhythm.
Glancing around, I take out my violin, place a cup next to me and start playing at platform 7. I know I sound so desperate. Like I thirst for money. But I love the way my fingers play at the strings, plucking different combinations. I play music, portraying personalities, strangers I will never meet and places I want to go to. Most of the time I play, I close my eyes. And occasionally, I hear a coin drop through and into the cup. Then I open my eyes.
I always end up enjoying this. It’s a thing about me. I don’t want to do things, but when I push myself to, I end up liking them. I always play what I want. I please only the mind with my tunes. Leaning up against the wall, refracting green puffs of breaths, I sway to the delicate violin notes. It is almost like the others aren’t there. They seem like wandering ghosts in the background of my music. Some come harder into reality and drop in a coin, then they become more solid.
Trains leave and come and I stay. At incredible ease, I smile and let my body take over my mind. This is the only time I let it happen.
Soon it’s 11pm.
I’m home. Like I often do, I make one last cup of tea before going to bed.
. . .
Sunlight reflects past my windows, it’s bitter morning again.