She only sees her father a few times each year. There’s a different plant each time, always dying. First it was a miniature Christmas pine, needles shedding at the slightest of touches, a handful of wood-carved ornaments hanging weakly from the branches. Then it was a chilli plant. He cooked her homemade curry with home-grown chillis, dry little fingers, bland and insipid. Once there was a spider plant, a mess of grey and green tendrils that cracked and crumbled when she touched them.
This time it’s a cactus plant, on a plate by the windowsill. She pushes one of the spines, expecting it to bend and snap, but it pricks her skin. She pulls her finger back, sees a small drop of blood. That one’s still alive, he says. Doesn’t need much water.
Anton Rose lives in Durham, U.K., with his wife and their dog. He writes fiction and poetry, and his work has appeared in a number of print and online journals. Find him at antonrose.com or @antonjrose.