I saw it coming for some time, but I guess never really wanted to admit it. As I think back on the experience - I can't believe I ignored what was going on in front of me. It seems so obvious now; the drooping shoulders, the withered demeanor, a general air of desperate solemnity.
"Come on, perk up..." I'd say as I walked by it's little place near the window on my way out the door to some other very important this or that, "It can' t be all that bad."
And maybe some days it wasn't all that bad. Perhaps some days when the sun was gleaming just so through the window, or particularly, when it was refreshed with a few loving mists from the squirt bottle and a healthy serving of tap water, things looked up!
"You're right..." it seemed to say, "I guess it's pretty okay sometimes!"
"See?" I'd respond, "I told you."
Inevitably however, the days between loving mists grew longer, the curtains remained drawn, and the drooping shoulders and solemnity returned. It became another fixture among the dusty picture frames, watching as shadows passed before its face day in and day out.
Then, on a particularly sunny sort of day, while casting my shadow across the length of the end table where I had decided it was high time to get some things cleaned around here, I was dismayed to see Houseplant almost nothing but a whisper of green, yellow, and some dry twigs. Some of its little leaves were spread before it like the graphic remains of a zombie attack. It seemed to give off a yellowish hue and trembled a little at the sight of Atticus the Cat.
"Houseplant?" I started trembling as I approached it's little perch, "Houseplant!??"
I set down my Pledge and drew closer to it's withered body... gently drawing back the curtains.
I rushed to the sink to fill up my squirt bottle. A little mist would brighten its day! A little mist always helped when it looked it's most disheartened... it's most despondent.
Squirt! Squirt! Squirt!
"Come on Houseplant!"
Squirt! Squirt! Squirt!
"Come on Houseplant! It can't be.... all that... "
A leaf detached from the body and floated to the floor.
What could I do? What could I say? It was all my fault. ALL my fault I tell you! How neglectful I'd been. How selfish! How could I have let this happen? Why couldn't I see this coming??!
But I had... I had seen it coming. Every day as I walked passed Houseplant to another important this and a more important that, houseplant had been there... withering... hopeful... eager... dying... and I would think, "I'll water houseplant tomorrow. I'll open the blinds too."
But... for Houseplant... there were a hundred tomorrow's. A hundred broken promises.
And now...Houseplant may be out of tomorrow's.
NO! I wouldn't give up!
I tenderly gathered up Houseplant in my trembling hands, carried it to the sink, set it in the bottom, and gently, oh so gently, turned the tap on to just a whisper of a trickle.
Water seeped into Houseplant and, I don't know if it was the rush of the water or a fool's hope, but I thought I saw Houseplant perk up a bit... reach for the water... drink deeply. Yes, I would leave it in it's little bowl of bliss all day, basking in that life giving nectar and then, so so tenderly, place it back on a mightily dusted end table to bask in the sun's glorious rays among the lemony scent of disinfectant.
"You will live, Houseplant. You will! I'll never neglect you again!"
Houseplant had been revived! I thought of all the glorious experiences we'd have together. The sunny days! The droplets of water! The feeling that if I could keep a plant alive, surely I could keep children alive! I could climb mountains! I could rule the WORLD!
Yes! Today dawned a new day for me and Houseplant. No more would the curtains remain drawn! No more would those shoulders droop or those limbs detach from the body! No more I say!
As I walked Houseplant back to it's perch, Atticus the Witless Wonder of a Fuzz-footed Dumby, and notably the most under-footed cat on the planet, hunkered his fuzz-butt down directly in front of Houseplant and I's dance towards a new dawn and within a few precious seconds...
Houseplant... was no more. Oh sweet hope... thou fickle fiend! Oh dreams dashed! Oh days numbered! Oh moronic feline who does not deserve the name Atticus J. Finch esquire!
I swept up the splattered remains and silently placed the shattered, damp, brownish green body into the trash. I looked at it's still perky leaves... it's stringy roots... and remembered.
After giving Atticus a swift kick, I got out my shopping list.
3. Cat litter
4. New Houseplant...
No.... it didn't seem right...
3. Cat litter
4. ... ... ... Cactus
You win some, you lose some, you learn some, and you kick some. Kick 'em soundly.