Close up shot of heart-shaped ceropegia woodii leaves.

First place, Spring 2022

Picture by Ella Zayith on Unsplash

It can’t go in a packing box safely. Crumbling soil, long stems dangling and tangling. Desiccated leaves that are damaged by a gust of air not even birthday candle hard. I don’t want to carry it out specially but— She left it with me.

I remember her mentioning early on that she wanted a pet, a cat for preference, but with the tenancy agreement there was no chance, and so she said let’s get a plant instead like cats and plants were interchangeable and I said okay because I wanted her to be happy and we could look after it together, our plant baby, we could take turns with the secateurs and the tiny brass spray to keep the leaves fresh and perky.

On the same shopping trip she bought one of those indoor greenhouses, to grow herbs, she said, and I’d thought, I’m not the kind of person who has a garden, I’m so not, but here I am with a pot plant and a mini greenhouse to fill with parsley and basil and perhaps this is who I am now, someone who grows roots to put down roots and isn’t that the strangest, the oddest of things?

And for a time we shared our String of Hearts. Kept it on the bedroom window ledge and wondered about getting a web of macrame to hang it from. It grew fast but not strong, and then it stopped growing at all.

After she moved out, taking the greenhouse and its edible contents with her, I became single parent to a plant baby and I remembered how much I never wanted that.

Without her, Ceropegia Woodii hasn’t thrived. The leaves are dusty, torn and crisp. The stems were always thin and delicate but now they are so dry and fragile that it’s like the plant is making its own bed of straw to lie on. I wonder yet again if it’s worth trying to move the plant at all and if that was why she’d left it with me. She would have known it was dead long before I did.

My other things are nearly all packed. More than I have boxes for, but there are always carrier bags. I round up the last bits: pens and paper clips, open blisters of paracetamol, stray kitchen utensils, wet bottles of shampoo and shower gel. It would be so easy to pick up the plant by the pot and hurl it through the window to the street below. I could do that or make one extra trip to carry it down to the car separately, cradle it in my arms. I could learn how to take care of it, learn how to feed and nurture and trim the way she wanted me to. The surviving heart-shaped leaves are like full lips, smiling. This could be where I begin.