The job search went better than I expected that morning. I didn’t quite manage to land a job offer on the first day, but I did have a good lead. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I put out a message on LinkedIn, just letting everyone know I was in the market for a new opportunity.
As it happened, a few friends of mine from college had put together a business venture two years ago. Their endeavor had been much more successful than mine, and they were looking add someone with my skill set to the team. It was better than I could have hoped for. What better way to get back up on the horse? And this time with some backup. I had a lunch date set up with their team in two days.
By the time I’d hammered out the details, I was starting to get more than peckish. I glanced over at the clock. 11 am already?
No great surprise, time does march on. But I was surprised I hadn’t heard anything from downstairs. My sister must be up by now, and yet there had been no exclamations of surprise, or excited phone calls to other botanically-inclined friends. Had she left for work, or errands, without noticing somehow?
That hardly seemed likely, given how excited she was about it yesterday, even before it doubled in size. I didn’t know what to expect when I came downstairs, but if I’d made a list, what I saw would have been at the bottom of it.
My sister sat at the table staring at the orchid with a vacant, sleepy smile. She was petting one of the orchid’s large, fuzzy leaves. As I came closer, I realized to my horror that the hairs on the leaves were embedding themselves in her skin, giving her palm its own fuzzy green-brown coat.
“What are you doing? Stop that.” I grabbed her hand and pushed the orchid away.
She looked startled for a moment, but her face soon reverted to a wide-eyed calm. “It’s really soft. Feel it.”
I’d known my sister to do some kooky things, but this was bizarre. She almost seemed high.
“Um, no thanks. You just say here for a second,” I said. “And I’ll get rid of this.”
I carefully picked up the orchid by the bottom of the cracked mug, careful not to let the leaves touch me, and then hustled out of the room. My sister watched me remove the orchid passively, which was somehow more disturbing than if she’d fought to keep it. The orchid shed dust like pollen or spores all over the place as I carried it through the house. I tried not to jostle it.
What was I going to do? Duct tape, I thought.
They use duct tape like a waxing strip to remove soft hair-like cactus spines. That would probably work. I chucked the orchid, mug and all, into the garbage can in the garage. In one corner of the garage my sister had a disorganized table with a bunch of tools and home-repair type items on it, and I poked around there until I found the duct tape.
My arm was itchy.
I looked at the duct tape and I remembered how for most of my formative years I thought it was called duck tape and didn’t this duct tape actually have yellow ducks on it or was it actually spots? I should probably actually call this duct tape duck tape only it actually didn’t have anything yellow on the tape no spots or ducks or geese or anything. I used to be afraid of geese but they’re actually far too small to back up their threats so I really should have been afraid of swans, because they’re just as aggressive but they’re huge and I think they could kill a person. They’re so beautiful too they would get away with it because no one would believe it a swan could get away with murder so easily plus how would you arrest a swan they don’t have wrists to put handcuffs on?
The orchid was in my hand again. Or maybe I had never dumped it at all?
I threw it away, again or perhaps for the first time, making sure it didn’t touch me. Only it already had. An itchy patch on my arm the size of a silver dollar was studded with those fine hairs. My stomach growled and my feet hurt from standing. How long had I been here?
I laid a strip of duct tape over the patch of hairs, and pulled it away quickly. The irritating, and possibly worse, hairs came with it, bar none. Excellent.
When I went back into the kitchen I found my sister where I’d left her. I used the duct tape to remove the stinging hairs on her hand.
“Does this hurt?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said.
“Why were you doing that?”
“I don’t know. It was soft.”
“Don’t do that again, okay?”
“Good. I’ll make us brunch.”
She still seemed very out of it, but I was fairly sure that would wear off with time. And that, I hoped, was the end of it.