Be careful what you wish for
|"Is that an Orchid?" Bianca was almost breathless with delight. "So different looking. It's not poisonous, is it? I've got kids." She was already checking how much extra cash she could find in her purse.
The luminous white leaves draped over the counter just asked to be touched. They seemed to glow with a gentle inner light. The leaves seemed to jump at her approach.
"Don't." The old man gently brushed her hand aside. Bianca put the skeins of yarn she wanted down next to him. Finding such a beauty in a knitting shop had startled her into immediately asking questions.
"It's not for sale, dear if that's what you're wondering."
"Perhaps, just a start?" She couldn't believe the sound of her begging voice. It brought a sharp look from the proprietor's eyes.
"Why do you want it?"
"I don't know. It just seems to call to me. I can't explain it." The words came out in a rush, without thought. The man started ringing up her sale then paused, looking at her intently. "I'm not sure you could care for it. Are you a horticulturist, by chance?"
It was the opening she'd been praying for since the first sight of the plant. She couldn't look away from it even while wheedling the owner for a start. "Close to it. I've had items published in several magazines." It was only a little white lie.
She had published, just not about plants. She pushed the thought of her husband John kidding her if she actually brought the thing home. Neither of them had been able to keep the few plants given them alive for long.
"I'd pay for it, of course." The wheedling had turned into a plea. A glance took in the man's indecision.
"You don't own a plant. It owns you." He was rubbing his chin sizing her up. She stood a little straighter. The yearning in her eyes searched his face.
"Plants aren't pets." Her voice scolded. She gasped at her sudden familiarity with the man. That seemed to decide him. His short bark of laughter made both the white leaves and Bianca jump a little.
"We'll give it a trial basis. No. Put the money away. This is a secret between the plant, you and me." She nodded her head in agreement, feeling the heat of the blush coming to her cheeks. It was the first secret she'd agreed to in a long time.
"What's that?" John, her husband, was home early today.
"Oh. A new shop had some yarn I liked." The words came easily. The small package beside the yarn was left unaccounted for. After all, she'd promised. This was a secret to be kept between the plant, the shop owner and her. As instructed, she placed the start on a wet paper towel in the basement overnight to encourage it to root.
It was difficult keeping her excitement hidden from her family. Her knitting project turned into broken counts and misplaced knots before everyone else had finally gone to bed. She was so hyper tense she could almost hear their minds wondering at her strange behavior.
Dinner had burned. Dishes had broken. Her answers to questions had stopped in mid-sentence. She'd blamed it on her starting a new knitting project. They'd finally left her alone as the best strategy to deal with her.
The beauty of the little start pulled her downstairs like a magnet. "Hello, little one." She whispered. Her fingertips almost touched the single white leaf before she realized what she was doing. "I remember." She talked to the plant as naturally as if it could talk back. "Skin oil isn't healthy for you. See? I'm taking good care of you."
As a reward, she saw three small veined roots shooting out of the leaf's bottom. Remembering the shop owner's fan, she pulled the one the family-owned out of winter storage and set it up. "It's our secret." She nodded in satisfaction. "Yes, I'll protect you, wee thing."
She rose, locking the room behind her. Children were curious. This plant was too beautiful to find broken underfoot from childish play. She'd tell them she was keeping the rarely used room locked in order to store her projects. It wasn't really a little white lie. The plant was a project after all.
"Are you alright?" John was in bed but still up, concern on his face. "You had us worried today."
"Don't I look alright?" She moved slowly into his waiting arms. Men were so easy to distract. She felt a small triumph in her kiss.
The next night, the leaf had grown the first knot of roots. One more leaf and it would be safe to place it in soil.
Her little white lies became easier to tell. With her secrets, her bond grew with the plant. Was John wandering? He was gone so much of the time lately. Talking with her plant told her what to do. A visit to his best friend showed John wasn't wandering. He worked a second job to save for her birthday.
Bianca spent more time asking questions and listening for guidance. It not only worked with her family problems but those of her friends.
Bianca thanked the softly glowing white leaves for helping whenever she had a worry. Talking with the plant always gave the right suggestion.
It caught her off guard when her best friend Ally came tromping downstairs and caught her. Ally had tears in her eyes and needed to talk. Bianca always seemed to have an answer.
"What a beautiful plant."
"It's not for sale." Bianca was surprised at how defensive her voice sounded. She moved to shield her Orchid from view, eyes darting to the doorway. She'd have to install a better warning security system. The hooded look in her friend's eyes made her wonder if that would be enough protection.
"Not even a start? I'll pay."