They were dying and she was aware of it. But it wasn’t a fast death like a car crash or a heart attack. She didn’t step on a live wire left in the wake of a particularly bad windstorm and she didn’t feel a bullet pierce her heart.
It was a gradual death, not too dissimilar to the kind that happens when a plant dies of thirst.
One summer, her mother told her to water a plant. was a small, leafy indoor tree that her mom had owned for half a decade and it was in a beautiful porcelain planter in counter shared by the kitchen and living room counter, right next to the spice rack.
She intended to water it. She promised she would water it. Every day she saw the plant remembered that she’d agreed to water it while her mother was in Canada. She washed her dishes in the sink next to it. She invited a boy over and they made out on the couch only a few feet away from it. She saw it multiple times every day and every single time she thought about watering it.
But it wasn’t until the final day, a month after, that she decided to water it. Pulling it back, its branches snapped off, brittle and dead. Leaves fell to the floor until it was almost naked. It was a goner.
When her mother got back the next day, jet-lagged and tired, she looked her in the eyes with the sadness only a disappointed mother can have.
“You killed my plant,” she said finally. She didn’t offer anything else instead choosing to just stand there, her shoulders sagging with her luggage by her side.
The girl shrugged like eighteen-year-olds are wont to do in times of mistakes. It was, after all, just a plant. In the following weeks, she watched dumbfounded as her mother tried to nourish it back to health, eventually pulling out a scrawny stem and talking to it for days until it once again grew a single leaf. How her mother had smiled then. How her mother looked so proud. How her mother talked of the plant’s recovery as if she cured cancer or saved an orphan from a burning building.
What she didn’t know then and knows now is that the plant knew it was dying.
You always do, when it’s a slow death.
That’s why they’re the worst.