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where there's life there's... ah, what exactly am I looking at here?

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where there's life there's... ah, what exactly am I looking at here?

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I have a plant. Sort of.

It's a shade plant, with kinda heart-shaped leaves(not that that matters now). Some time after we moved into our last apartment, my mother gave it to me, she said to put more oxygen in our air... okay, whatever. Photosynthesis in the privacy of my own home - I can dig it.

It flourished, amazingly, in spite of my status as a veteran plant killer (well, there was a geranium that had a long, drawn-out and probably painful death, and before that I nearly executed the ficus that Norch entrusted to me after he left IC - I passed it into the competent care of my grandmother, and I have no idea what happened to it when she and Grandpa moved out of their house, but I'm sure it was happier and healthier without me), and I do feel some guilt about it. Any intelligent person should be able to keep a plant alive, but I seem to do better, on the whole, with things that are able to actually ask for their food and water. This plant, though, survived the cats and defied my black thumb, and just about choked itself out of its pot, it grew so much. Of course, I had no idea what to do with it.

I was saved from the terror of pruning when, it was knocked on the floor while we were cleaning in preparation for our Christmas travels (who knows what year that was). I was upset at first, but the plant wasn't harmed at all, so far as I could tell, and the impact made the roots divide easily into four parts. I put them each in a glass of water, and they lived like that for months - I'm not sure how many months, really. It/they busily warped themselves toward the sun (I would not have thought shade plants would do that) - and everything seemed cool. They lived on water and Miracle-Gro for, well, really for a lot longer than I thought they would. There was some kind of funky MiracleGro-colored mold or fungus, or maybe the stuff was just crystallizing, but the plants never seemed to mind. Plant life was good.

Eventually we moved to Kelly's, and sadly, one was lost. When we left the apartment I had the four glasses, but in my new room there were only three. Mike and Reid both claimed ignorance, but later I found the coffeecup in which the former foliage had dwelt; the rime of months of hardwater/Miracle Gro was still on the inside. It was murder most foul, but sadly, I never found a clue (but I suspected Reid, and still do).

Still, I had my three quarters of the original plant left, and they were getting long, vining away from the pot. Again, I thought about learning to prune, especially since Valentine got at them and chewed on their leaves during the move, and showed a whole lot of interest in a repeat performance. I ended up finding a safe place, though, and the question was tabled until we moved out of Kelly's (not very long after we moved in).

It was during this second move that tragedy struck. Mike and I were taking a carload of stuff over to the new apartment in the late evening, and the plants came out to the car all together in a cardboard box. When we got to the apartment, I realized the plants were not in the car. We went back to Kelly's, but it was not in the parking lot, either. It turned out that the box had been set on top of the car... and had actually not fallen off right away, but managed to stay on until we got out onto the highway.

It was probably mostly moving stress that caused me to have a complete breakdown and bawl uncontrollably over the torn leaves and mangled stems, as we retreived them from the road, packed them up and brought them to the new apartment. Once I was rational again I realized that a surprisingly large amount of the plants had remained undamaged as who knows how many cars drove over them (not too many; it was about half an hour). Everything that seemed viable I plunked in water again. I couldn't find the MiracleGro, but I had heard that you could feed a plant on sugar, so I put some corn syrup in the water, and that seemed to work for them, so I hadn't killed them yet.

Eventually, though, things took a turn for the worse. The funky mold or whatever it was came back to the water, but unlike last time it seemed to sharply disagree with the plants. Maybe it was a new mold, I'm not sure - all I know is that one by one, each surviving piece succumbed to whatever was killing them off. One leaf, separated from its stem but still viable, clung to glowing green health for a long time and even put out tiny root starts before finally becoming the most recent to expire - first wilting, then eventually drying out and turning brown. That was several months ago.

In my room, at this moment, on top of a shelf, there is a scuffed tupperware bowl which holds, supported in an inch of potting soil, all that is left of a once bounteous display of flora. It is one stem, no leaves, no splits: just one segmented twist of plant life, lurking in a clear plastic dish, refusing to die. I water it, the soil dries out, I water it again. I have not got the heart to kill it, and I don't want it to die - but I do not know what to do to make it flourish again.

I was thinking about all this as I watered it tonight, and decided to write about it, because I was thinking of the experiences it had had, marveling at its survival, and wondering what I can do to help the poor thing. I respect it just for still being alive, but I wonder what that kind of life does to a tender young plant's psyche. If that were me, I might just be in a murderous rage at this point. I'm not too concerned, as it currently has no appendages, but if I ever turn up strangled in my sleep, just remember, I've pointed out the most likely suspect.
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