I hate the police. I hate police stations.And worse than that, I hate jail. I pay the fee but fee or not, it’s two months in the shit hole. It’s awful, but sort of bearable.In there only call I made was to my housemates, to let them know I wasn’t gonna be home for a couple of months and to tell that to the clients who might look for me. And also, to let them know that if anything was looking dry, overwatered or dead when I got to the greenhouse, somebody was gonna be evicted. At least right now I was only charged with trespassing and not property damage (that I did do too). Two months is way too much time. I guess that’s what I get for not doing the assigned reading and running into security on my way out. I get home after they release me, I’m tired like few times in my life I’ve been before, but I still go on to check the greenhouse.
“You look awful,” they say. What an understatement. They don't say it endearingly nor worried. It’s just a statement. Cold. This is how conversations start between us. They say something cold or rude and I reply with something smart. Today I feel like passing out and say nothing. I look around for the watering can when they talk again, “I already did that, just so you know” they seem to want to say something else, but stop. “Really… irresponsible of you… two months”. I think they are mad now… but I have no energy to discuss, to tease them or persuade them. “Sorry. I told them to take care while I was not here” I say, I could barely hear it. I just run around on my feet.
Yes, the greenhouse is my...my what? My temple? my safespace? My everything? No...scratch that. Since they are here my everything has become wider than it was. But even if this is the best place on earth for me, my ego and my body can only take so much. Body bruised and malnourished, I think I could use kind words for a change. It’s not that they can’t be kind to humans, but rather that they haven’t wanted to be, not in a long time, and simply lost their touch. I can relate to that.
Still, if there’s a sure comfort anywhere now it’s in my bed. I reach for the door to get out but as I do they are grabbing my shoulder. “Humans are so weak. I’m amazed they have survived for so long” I’m about to push their hand off, say something rude but then I’m pulled into their arms. And they are warm. “I don’t like them... ” I feel them say near my ear. Against anything that should be they feel solid and I wrap my arms around, feeling like giving up, my legs weak.
Then I’m sobbing. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I can’t be weak. I have to be strong. It’s what I’m supposed to be right? It’s what I’ve given my life to, try to make things better, try to help them. “Stop” they say, sad or annoyed I can’t tell “it’s like I can listen to your self deprecation”.
“Are you mad?” I try to get away from them.
“No…” they take a breath and cough but their embrace doesn't flatter. “Well, I was. Your lot tends to die rather young... and I didn’t want that”. I look up at them. “I don’t mind the plague dying. It 's just...”
“It’s just that if I died I would have left the greenhouse to die too. Got it” I interrupt, half joking, half serious.
“Shut up… it’s not like that. You know it'' they say, and there’s no joke in their eyes. I feel small and stay quiet. They take a shaky breath and hold me tighter. I close my eyes and I wonder how I end up like this. But it doesn’t matter. They lose their grip and step back, but hold my hand. I follow mindlessly, letting myself be guided through known spaces.
The couch. That shitty old couch I dragged from lord knows where when I started working on the greenhouse. I have repaired it so many times the only way I know which parts are the original is by looking at pictures. When I first pulled it in I said it was temporary but by now… I’m sentimental and there’s just too much attached to it.
They sit there and I follow. Soon, we are laying down and they hold me again. Now, even if I wanna close my eyes I can’t. It’s not everyday I get to see them like this. Soft. We usually talk, laugh. If it goes on more than a few hours I end up asleep. I can count with the fingers of one hand the occasions I have had to see them the morning after that. I lift up my hand and brush their cheek. “You can’t say you are tired and then not sleep”. I smile. “I’m sorry…” I give up and let my thoughts out “You will be gone when I wake, let me treasure this”. My voice is small. I hear a muffled laugh, followed by coughing.
“You know I can’t be here that long,” they say with a hoarse voice. I feel guilty, sometimes, about this. About having this and still wanting more. But I know I really can’t ask for more than they can give, or that they want to give me. So I try not to ask aloud, but they still seem to read me. They are expecadly wild, untamed, but as much as they are fire and live, they are fragile and must be cared for. I’m always And with all that. “I will be here when you wake. Well, I’m always here, with you. But like this,” they make their hold tighter “tomorrow. Now rest”. I finally close my eyes and rest my head on their chest. Their breathing is irregular, I think I hear them cough again before I fall asleep.
I think it’s the best rest I’ve ever had, and waking up next to them, makes it even better.