The hydrangea needed more light. She didn’t like the spot where Dr. Ortman had placed her, on the end table by the sofa. No. That wouldn’t do at all. But the windowsill was too narrow. She’d tip over if Evelyn set her there.
Evelyn paced the threadbare carpet and chewed her nails. There had to be a better place for her dear plant. The poor thing was crying. Her anguished wails rattled around in Evelyn’s mind, making her teeth grind. She scooped the pot into her arms like a toddler, shushing her as she walked, eyes roving the studio apartment. There was only one window. She’d have to move her bed, but that was ok. Anything to make her happy again. She couldn’t let her suffer. Not like she had. Not anymore.
She set the plant down on the tiny kitchen counter next to the beta fish bowl. She shoved her single bed as far against the wall as it could go. There. Now she could put the table under the window, and the plant would be happy. Right?
Hydrangea properly sorted and watered, Evelyn resumed her pacing. Dr. Ortman said she was well enough to live on her own. That she was more or less cured, as long as she remembered her meds and stuck to her schedule. The schedule that was posted on the dry erase board right by the front door.
8:00am – Wake up
8:10 – 8:30 – breakfast and morning pills
8:30 – 8:45 – shower
9:00 – 9:30 – take a walk
9:45 – 10:45 – relaxation time
It was 10:30. Evelyn had spent the last forty-five minutes worrying over her plant. Her shoulders were tense. Her breath came in short quick gasps. Her nails were bitten down to the quick. She glanced at the bottles of pills on the counter. She didn’t take her dose today. Or the day before. Or the day before that.
Being on the outside was too lonely. She had grown accustomed to the constant interruptions to her day. The nurses checking in, administering her meds. The daily meetings with Dr. Ortman. Free time in the common room with her fellow “inmates.” Walks along the grounds where the trees always smiled at her. The trees along the street outside her apartment glared and clawed at her scarf.
Her adventure into freedom was more isolating than solitary confinement. If she stopped the meds, then maybe at least the voices would come back. The ones that had been there since she was a little girl. They weren’t always nice. Sometimes they made her do awful things, like slice down her arm to see what her bones looked like on the inside. But they were familiar.
She didn’t expect her plant to talk to her, and to be so distressed about her living situation.
“Are you happy now?” Evelyn asked.
The hydrangea fluttered her dozens of blue eyes. “This is better. But you aren’t who I wanted. I rather liked the man that brought me here. Why did he leave me with you?”
Evelyn cowered. “I can do better. What do you want?”
“Your blood,” the plant said. “I need it to live. And you aren’t really making good use of it, are you?”
“But I thought you liked water?” Evelyn’s nails dug into her arms. Even her houseplant hated her.
The hydrangea chuckled. “Think about it, sweetheart.” Her petals ruffled as she stretched tall. “It will make everything better. Better than the pills. Better than the Ward. I promise.”
Evelyn chewed her lip. It was 10:50. Too early for lunch. But maybe it would be a good distraction. Some food and tea might settle her nerves. She made herself a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich and a cup of chamomile tea, then sat down across from the hydrangea. She raised the steaming mug to her lips and inhaled the sweet herbal aroma.
“You’re drinking the boiled bodies of my brothers and sisters, yet you won’t give me even a drop of your own blood? Typical human. So hypocritical.”
Evelyn blinked. The hydrangea blinked back at her, it’s flowery eyes narrowed into a scowl.
Evelyn set down her mug. She stood and hefted the window open. It groaned on its track, years of grime and paint fighting to keep it shut.
“What are you doing?” the hydrangea demanded.
Evelyn wedged her shoulder under the window and shoved. It finally gave and slid all the way up.
“Evelyn…” the hydrangea warned.
Evelyn perched in the window ledge and peered down at the street eight stories below. It was quiet at this time of day. A woman jogged past on the narrow slab of sidewalk that ran alongside the building. A fall from this height would do serious damage, but would it be enough to kill her?
“Evelyn,” the plant hissed, “Don’t do anything stupid. I need your blood. Don’t waste it!”
Evelyn glanced at the hydrangea one last time. She picked up the pot and flung it out the window. The hydrangea screamed in outrage as she fell. Her pot crashed with a satisfying thwack on the sidewalk. Evelyn sighed, a small smile cresting her lips. She tugged on the window, trying to close it as the hydrangea shrieked up at her from the street below.
“Treacherous bitch! How could you do this to me! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill-”
The window slammed shut. Evelyn’s knees gave out and she sank into her chair. She glanced around the apartment. All was peaceful once more. Her eyes fell on the beta fish, bobbing gently in his bowl.
“Good move,” the fish said. “That plant was shifty.”
Trisha fell in love with writing at eight-years-old and has been honing her craft ever since. She studied theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and has since returned to her first passion. She recently finished her first novel and Tweets daily flash fictions. Her work has been featured Kyanite Press and Barren Magazine. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two kids, and two cats.