Snapdragons Come Back Every Year
Words By Janna Miller, Art By Hailey Renee
The couch blossomed on Thursday, right after the afternoon rain. Clusters of gerbera daisies gathered on the left armrest. Their slender new petals reached towards the lamplight on the nearby side table, reflective in shades of silky aubergine. Maxine thought they matched the mock-Turkish rug and left them for the time being, wondering if she should adjust the humidity. The house still creaked in the night, settling on its dry desert foundation like a stone in an old river.
She called Verne, who she paid to drive the extra miles out of town to empty her blackwater and check the solar panels. When he was here next, could he also look at her environmental controls? He did a little of everything.
“No problem. I’ll be by later tomorrow.”
She looked at buds starting to appear on the settee. “Bring some garden shears too.”
Friday morning, the floorboards were extra springy underfoot, leading her to a row of corn that sprouted from the front doormat. Small tender bamboo shoots curled up from under the baseboards.
The first sip of coffee helped clear her mind, separating the colors of new bluebonnets and snapdragons pushing through the dining room chairs. On the second sip, a lump lodged in her throat. She spat and clawed at her neck, trying to suck in any bit of air. Before she blacked out, she fell against the edge of the countertop, forcing the air from her diaphragm. She coughed until she breathed easy again, her back pressed against a downy thistle, gone to seed over her coffee pot.
Dark clouds rolled in from the west, the last rain of the season.
When Verne arrived, he passed a new line of begonias leading up to the front door, their thickly veined leaves bent over the walkway. Maxine’s relieved face pressed up against the transom window.
“Hey Verne, I need you to break the glass. My hands are tied.”
“Like with dinner?”
“Sort of. Look, all the doors and windows are stuck fast with sap. I can’t get out.”
Verne noticed a darker shadow growing behind Maxine. Droplets of condensation beaded on the glass.
Maxine’s voice was strained. “Now, please.”
Muttering about crazy off-grid loners, Verne got a wrench from the truck and beat at the window. When it finally cracked, a rainforest spilled out along with Maxine, scraping green along the fractured glass. Verne pulled at her frantically, her encasing vines eventually snapping down by the mailbox.
“What the actual hell?”
Maxine shuddered off green loops while sprinting for the truck. “Vanilla vines, I think. Hard to tell when you’re being throttled.”
As they backed down the long driveway, cacti poked out from the eaves of the roof. Maxine hung out of the window, watching. “Don’t think I’ll be buying plant-based furniture again.” She paused. “Or at least I’ll build somewhere with a regular growing cycle.”
With the first drops of rain, the desert started to bloom.