I thought it was over after I threw out the strange orchid. It wasn’t.
For the rest of the day I kept to the guest bedroom, trying to pretend the whole thing hadn’t happened. I was psyched about the job opening in my old classmate’s firm, and so I cyber-stalked him and his colleagues and their competition. Just to get a good sense of what I was getting into.
I also kept putting resume’s out other places, just in case. It wouldn’t hurt to have more than one offer on the table.
When I eventually had to come back downstairs for food that evening, I found my sister staring at one of her houseplants. It looked like there was an odd sprout in it, but I wasn’t really familiar enough with the flora in this house to know whether or not it was unusual.
She wasn’t petting it, which was good enough for me.
The carpets seemed to have acquired a greenish tint in places. Maybe from the dust the orchid puffed out when I took it too the garage. I vacuumed, and that helped a bit.
It didn’t get better. It was never got as bad as it was that first day, but the house was steadily getting greener and fuzzier. I told myself it really wasn’t that much different than it had been before. Maybe the furniture had always been growing mossy stuff.
I vacuumed twice a day to keep the worst of it out of the carpets at least, and got rid of anything particularly orchid-like growing in the other houseplants. None of this seemed to bother my sister, either the growing things or my interference with them.
She didn’t leave the house, or answer the phone. I had to remind her to change clothing and feed herself, but she would if I told her to.
It was all beyond ridiculous, but it was temporary. The meetings with my former classmate and his colleagues went fantastic, and before I knew it, I had an official job offer and a start date. I was getting my life back.
It seemed like an eternity but finally the morning came. I carefully lint-rolled every bit of plant material off my work clothes, and reorganized my favorite briefcase.
I hustled downstairs, aiming for the front door. Fluff and dust kicked up in my wake. I would have to re-lint roll myself in the car. No matter. I opened the door to leave.
“Are you going?” said my sister.
My sister stood by a tall potted tree fern that was now dripping with something like spanish moss. She hadn’t said a word to me unless I spoke to her first in days.
I scratched at my arm. “Yes. My new job starts today. I told you that.”
“Are you going to leave me?”
A queasy knot settled in the pit of my stomach. I could leave. In fact, I had already perused a few apartment listings, and contacting landlords to arrange viewings was on my to-do list for next week.
But what about her? She wouldn’t leave, I knew that. Or if she did, she would take it with her. Her clothes already had fuzzy greenish patches, and her complexion was pale and sallow.
“No,” I said. “I’m going to stay here with you.”
I closed the door, and we walked over to the couch. A big potted hibscus tree sat in the middle of the room. It’s flowers were huge. They’d once been white, but now they were light green and dramatically splattered with dark red spots.
Dust hung in the air, visible in the rays from the window, and almost seemed to shimmer.
My phone rang from my purse by the front door.
The dust looked like krill drifting in the ocean currents. I sat on the couch with my sister and thought about whales swimming through the living room and sifting pollen out of the air.