Phoenix had always heard that people could do some crazy things after the death of a loved one, and he supposed it was true… but never to the point where he would find himself talking to a potted plant.
“Mia liked you a lot, didn’t she?” No answer, of course. He knew it, regardless. “She watered you every day and… and did all those things that people who like plants do.” Forgive the ineloquence, “Charley”, I’m still not feeling very good here. “I… I was never into plants that much… but I’d better start getting interested, huh? Heh…”
He wasn’t about to let Charley wither. If he did, Mia would follow.
“Did Mia ever talk to you?” If he tried hard enough, he could almost imagine the plant and its comforting voice. Or maybe he was just going crazy from the shock. “She did seem pretty lonely sometimes… Not that she ever talked to me about it.” He sighed. “And now it turns out she has a sister. Who knew…?”
After looking around, as if to reassure himself there was nobody watching his minor breakdown – and really, it was pointless to do so; the police weren’t there and who else would be watching? – he crouched down to Charley’s eye level. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure how he could tell where its eyes were, but his guess seemed about right. “Do you think she did it?” No, that was a ridiculous question. Charley knows who killed Mia, he was right here—
Good God, what was he thinking?
If only he had gotten there sooner, maybe he wouldn’t be talking to a plant right now. If he had stumbled upon the killer, he could have done something. If, if, if…
If he had gotten there before that Maya girl did… Would he have been the one in the detention center right now?
Ifs aside, that thought alongside the crying eyes he saw that night were a good enough reason for him to defend her.
That night, alone in the detention center, Phoenix realized that, even though he felt reasonably saner at the moment, Charley’s company would still be appreciated.
The office felt less empty with Maya around, and knowing that Mia wasn’t completely gone lessened much of the pain. However, Charley still stood out from the white walls, the cold, overly verbose law books and the desk his chief would never return to. He’d feel crazy considering even for a moment the possibility that the plant could be alive – more so than plants commonly are, that is – but if spirits exist…
“Nick, what are you doing? You said you’d be ready five minutes ago!”
Maya’s voice brought him back to reality. In later years, he would come to realise how the sentence, let alone the concept of it, seemed so backwards, and wonder, even before he knew how strong she could be, if she didn’t mean to offer him wisdom as valuable as her sister’s.
“Uh, I was just…”
“Oh, I get it!” Her little smirk was different from anything he had ever seen crossing Mia’s face, yet it somehow reminded him of her. “You wish Charley could come, right?”
“Right! I’m sure he wishes he could come along too, you know. We could take him along, but you can’t feed a burger to a plant, so there wouldn’t be much point…” The smirk was for Charley this time. “Sorry, but you’ll have to stay! Nick’s going to water you to make sure you don’t starve, though, okay?”
Phoenix sighed, with a small laugh that, he hoped, would give Maya the impression that he would never, under any circumstances at all, join her in such a farfetched thought. “Just head on downstairs without me, I’ll feed—water him.”
“And then you’ll do me, right?”
“Hey, you’re a lawyer! I’m sure you have a lot more money to spend on the simple pleasures of life than I do, don’t you? I can’t afford a burger for myself every day, you know!”
“O-Oh, you meant—never mind.” Shaking his head with a cringe, he gestured towards the front door. “I’ll meet up with you soon.” As she ran out the door, doubtlessly wondering what new filling to try out today, Phoenix came to Charley’s eye level again – he was becoming increasingly sure of where exactly the sweet spot rested – and gave him a smile that, oddly, he could feel the plant returning him.
“Maya sure is something, huh? Hahah…” Said the lawyer who’s still talking to a potted plant. A single leaf nodded—no, that was the wind.
Watering Charley, Phoenix couldn’t help but let something escape him in a mutter. “If people can summon spirits, could plants do it too?”
He laughed to himself as he closed the door. Obviously, he still wasn’t completely over the shock.
If he were, perhaps he would have noticed that the window was closed all along.