624 Things to Write About: A house plant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live.

As my parents excitedly packed for their trip to Spain I was almost as excited as they were. I was going to have the house all to myself for a full month. I could cook for myself, stay up until 3 a.m. writing papers and have no one worry about me. This was the life. I also had to ensure that the house didn’t burn down and that the bunnies survived. Oh, and my mother’s lovely collection of house plants in a remote corner of the basement.

She requested that I water them a couple of times a week. I said I would do my best. I’ve always hated making promises I can’t keep.

The days passed. The living room became my new abode. The bunnies were kept more or less happy, as could be traced by the scratches on my arms and the chewed up towel on the sofa.

One place I didn’t go was the basement. The plants sat lonely, forgotten and utterly parched. Three weeks in I remembered them and ran down the stairs uttering profanities and prayers. I decided to compensate by giving them a month’s worth of water at once, positively drowning them in the process. That was likely the nail in the coffin. Some survived, the hardiest and the provers of Charles Darwin. Nature had surely selected them if the could live through my care.

I sent my mother an email warning her to expect a massacre and a land of brittle dying plants, half apology, half warning. I had a week left to practice a combination of neglect and killing them with kindness. I still think the survivors send me angry glares on the rare occasions when I venture into the basement.

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