Obsession. By David Stevens
An obsession can take many forms, most are harmless some less so but still to the obsessive they are a comfort of sorts or provide pleasure and interesting hours of passing time , somet5imes though…
By David Stevens
“We are gathered here.” The words flowed over the head of one mourner. “Earth to Earth.” Intoned the drone, but all that mattered to the forty-two year old woman, standing before an open grave in the rain, watching the end of an internment, with the loss she felt draining her body, was getting back home, back to her life and passion. So far she had held back the tears, not just tears for the departed or for her loss, but also the tears of frustration that she was the only person with enough of a sense of loss to attend the funeral.
She of course had no choice but to attend, seeing as the person being interred was her mother. The mother that had cared for her throughout her childhood, and the same mother that she had cared for throughout her youth and into adult-hood. They had lived together as a single parent family since her mother had been twenty-two when her much loved husband had died, which was she knew a very short time after her own birth.
She, her mother, had brought her up in the best way that she could, still she had been forced to suffer though the isolation of being a child with a single parent, the stigma her mother had repeatedly told her, the stigma generated in the bigoted minds of the locals had haunted her through out her life, and now she was moving into the next phase, that of being an orphan.
What a joke life was she thought, as the Vicar finally finished droning on, and turned to escort her away from the grave side. There were no cars waiting. Only a hearse had been used to bring the body of her departed mother to her funeral. Why pay out for a car when she was the only family member and a taxi could do the job of taking her to the cemetery equally as efficiently, and far cheaper than the luxury Rolls Royce, more traditionally used.
Her mother she knew would have approved of her astuteness, and that was all that mattered to the lone woman leaving the cemetery. The taxi was waiting for her to take back alone to the old rambling house her mother had inherited with the death of her father, and which she now had become the sole owner of.
Her life had changed; the home she had grown up in had changed, everything felt more alone, more closed in, more demanding of her attention. She almost expected to hear the voice of her mother calling her for tea as she turned the key to enter into the darkened house. There was of course no voice; her mother was now resting, as the vicar had called it, buried in the cemetery she had just left.
The house was empty except for the only companions her mother had so lovingly spent her life looking after, for as long as she was physically able to, and then it had fallen to her to see to the plants needs. She being a good daughter, she had followed her mothers instructions to the letter; she had dutifully done everything she was asked to do. With the passage of time they had eventually become her plants, not her mothers, hundreds of them and all the same, all spider plants. All, each and every one of them was totally dependent on her, at least that had not changed nor would she allow it to.
It had all begun when her mother had one day purchased a single spider plant and had lovingly tended it, placing it on the kitchen window-sill. She had been a young child on the day the first one had arrived, but she still remembered it quite clearly. It as a plant looked nice and green and healthy, and it grew as spider plants, she was to learn, loved to grow. Long lengths of growth trailed over the side of the pot nearly reaching the sink beneath the plant.
That was when her mother, unable to just kill the new growth, she snipped and planted the reaching arms and soon she had not one, but ten spider plants. Each grew healthily; each added more to the collection as they expanded. Her mother had found it impossible to kill a single one, she had give a few away to the local church on that one Sunday when she had ventured out of the house, pushing a heavy wheel barrow filled with her Harvest festival offering of spider plants; but soon the people at the church that had wanted them, were growing them for themselves.
Mother with no other option just planted each and every out reaching bud, and tended it lovingly into full adult-hood. Where it, like its brethren provided yet more re-growth, and soon one had become a hundred and they had spread from the kitchen into every nook and cranny of the house. Mother had placed them wherever there was even the tiniest splash of daylight or room for a pot; and so it had progressed over the years. The spider plants took over the house and her mother’s life, becoming her overruling passion, one bordering on the obsessive.
“Its only me.” She called out shutting the door behind her and leaning back against its hard wood, taking deep breaths to banish the effects of the outside world from her life.
For nearly a year after the funeral she kept herself to herself, she was not becoming a recluse, nor was she deliberately shutting herself away. It was just that she only really felt happy alone in the house and talking to her spider plants and becoming herself. One morning without any warning she got up as usual, made herself some toast, did the rounds of watering the spider plants, and was sitting in the large lounge with the curtains open. Enjoying the sunlight streaming in through the window; she had cleaned only yesterday so there was little for her to do but relax and enjoy and of course talk to the spider plants.
When from nowhere she had an idea. The time she had half expected had arrived; she explained her thoughts to the room, and the plants growing in that room. She needed more in her life than she had enjoyed for the last year. Now she was ready to spend some, though not all of her time out of the house. What she needed she told the spider plants, was a job of some sort! Preferably, she said, a part time job, one with hours to suite her.
She did not need to work for the money like most people, she was reasonably secure financially. Her mother had seen to that by investing her dead husbands wealth in very sensible and carefully selected investments, so she had left her daughter quite well set up. ‘Still I need a job’ she thought, the spider plants might not have agreed with her but there was nothing they could do about it, so they just listened as they always listen, and enjoyed her care of them.
Three months later she was stood in the shop, the only member of staff on duty and left in charge by the manager. The job had been easy enough to obtain, she had just walked into the charity shop and asked, two days later she had started work, and now here she was three months on left in charge.
The man looked smart, he was perhaps in his fifties, and had a sad doleful look to him. His clothes were neat well looked after and tasteful and slowly she came to talk to him. The first time they spoke was on his first visit, it was only to secure his purchase of a nice looking hat, one that she had only just put in the window for sale.
The next day and the next, and most days for the rest of the week he came in, always purchasing something. It was the fifth day, and a Friday that he first spoke to her properly. His voice, now that she heard it properly sounded nice, not too deep nor to light, but just nice. He greeted her pleasantly and bought a book on animals she noted.
She thought little of the meetings but as time passed, and days gathered together, they began to have little conversations, and they the conversations grew slowly until they lasted a whole ten minutes. He came into the shop every day that she worked and gradually they got to know each other.
Sadly she learned he was a widower, his wife had been ill for many years and finally she had died, leaving him alone. It turned out that her mother and his wife had died on the sameday, and very nearly at the same time, which was a strange coincidence. It also turned out that he liked her company as he showed on his twentieth visit into the shop by asking her if she would care for a coffee?
For some reason she accepted, something she had never done before and so the afternoon had been spent talking and getting even more acquainted. She learned the nature of his wife’s illness, and of her death, which came as quite a shock to her. Mostly because his wife she learned had suffered with some form of mental illness, and had sadly killed herself whilst he had been out shopping.
That evening she arrived home at five instead of her normal three pm, and the plants desperately needed watering. She flounced around the house like a happy child, talking non-stop about the man Paul, who she had met and liked. Telling the spider plants every little detail of him that she could think of. She could feel a strange feeling budding in her thoughts, an interest in him that she had never felt for any man! It was quite nice; she began expanding her thoughts telling the plants all about how she would like to be a lot closer to him, perhaps even to get married to him! She accepted that she was falling in love with the sad looking man. Was he falling for her she wondered, but the answer eluded her in her naivety.
She was not aware that the only reason that he came into the shop was to see her, not to buy anything. That first visit had been instigated by the hat in the window; he had liked the look of it and was surprised to see something so nice in a charity shop window. It was the first, and he expected it to be his only visit into such an establishment. But then he had seen her, and somehow he had started visiting and buying things, just to be able to see her.
They began to meet more often after she had finished work and she began to come home later and later, until one day she returned bouncing happily through her front door and totally ignoring the spider plants. He had asked her out! Paul lovely Paul wanted to take her out to a restaurant, and she had said ‘Yes.’ What to wear she thought, charging up the stairs to her bedroom.
Her wardrobe was not so sparse as it had once been, now that she worked in the charity shop she had begun buying clothes to brighten up her day. She had begun buying herself little treats from the rails, so she now had quite a few dresses and assorted outfits from which to choose.
She pulled out a black three-quarter length dress with thin straps, but she had brought it more to look at, than to wear, it was just too, well, sexy for her. She pulled out other clothes adding them to the growing pile on her bed, before finally selecting a lemon yellow sun-dress. It she knew looked nice on, and complimented her mouse brown hair, but did not look to sluttish or how she perceived sluttish to look.
Black low heeled shoes were added to her outfit and finally a matching black clutch bag. She did not wear makeup, as firstly her mother had not approved, and having no one to show her how to put it on and her few attempts had made her look ridiculous, she had forgotten the idea of wearing it. She brushed her hair out, pulling it back and put in some hair clips, but she did not like the look, it was just to sever for her so she took them all out again. By six she was ready, he was not coming until seven-thirty, and then she remembered the spider plants. She went downstairs to fetch the little green watering can and as she walked around the house giving the spider plants their much needed drink of water, she chattered on about Paul, and allowed her thoughts to run amok.
Paul arrived and rang the doorbell at exactly seven-thirty. She was waiting for him to arrive in the hall at the bottom of the stairs, eager and desperate; she had heard his footsteps crunch on the gravel drive, so she was ready to open the front door to him. He smiled at her saying.
“Wow you look beautiful!” She grinned back at him, feeling warm and safe and enjoying his approval of her taste in clothes.
“I’m very sorry!” He asked her. “But could I possibly use your toilet before we go?”
She pointed up the stairs, telling him where to go and watched as he climbed up to the landing. She heard the door to the bathroom open and then close and feeling a little shy she stepped into the lounge to wait for him to come down.
Paul was in seventh heaven he had never expected to meet, let alone go out with a beautiful woman again, and now here he was! He had noticed the spider plants and for a second he had hesitated, was she a little strange he wondered, as there were so many of the plants around, they seemed to have almost taken over, but he dismissed the thought. In every other respect she seemed quite normal to him, and he knew what being abnormal looked and sounded like, he had spent years living with every facet of abnormal. Anyway it was just a date. He smiled again, and left the bathroom. Just a date the words echoed in his thoughts distracting him slightly.
The stairs led down to a mezzanine, one with a large window lighting it. The window was full of spider plants, all drooping tendrils that reached out to the floor. He glanced at the plants feeling some disquiet again, but ignoring it he turned to walk down the remaining stairs.
She was standing at the bottom looking up at him waiting, he smiled down at her, looking at her radiant beauty with longing held close in his thought. He took one step forward and felt something tangle around his legs, he tripped forward, something heavy tumbled, hitting his head as he fell, knocking him down the stairs.
He tumbled, his arms twisting, his bones snapping in a fall that broke his neck, and killed him outright. He landed at her feet, already dead! She screamed, reaching out to help him but it was too late. The largest spider plant rolled in its plant pot across his back, carried down the stairs from the mezzanine by his body. It shattered as it hit the floor, scattering soil over her shoes.
The funeral was finished, the vicar had said his prayers and again for the second time in her life she was shocked to be the only representative attending a funeral. Paul had been buried not far from her mother, and inside she felt even more distraught than she had felt the previous time, at least her mother’s death had been sort of expected. Paul was gone, taken from her forever, killed by the fall, killed by a freak accident or so the Police had said, she knew better, she understood the killers.
As she crunched the gravel of her drive beneath her shoes she had a mental picture of herself. She was standing in her garden, before a huge flaming bonfire, throwing something onto the pyre, watching as the thing she had hurled withered and burned .
She had decided, the plants, the bloody spider plants that have so ruined her life must die, ‘and they will’ she said out loud, as she opened the front door with her key. “They will” She repeated…