Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bubbles, bubbles

I'm thinking of the way a smile brought me back from the very brink. I'm thinking of the promise of a Sunday dinner, served on Saturday night. I'm thinking of a house with all its eyes and ears open, drawing what little fresh air there was into its book-lined, wood-panelled lungs. I'm thinking of music coming from one particular room; French windows giving onto a sort of veranda upon which heart's desire resolutely- but how can that be concluded?- never appeared. Clink of glasses. Quiet enough but audible from where a disincluded specimen lingered in the rougher part of the garden, with almost as many eyes and ears as the house.

Strange, the things that will and won't take in the soil here. Seeds. Fetched back from... Official Secrets Act, and all that. The initial thinking was that they wouldn't grow on this... in local soil. Well, those were the days when a chap might slip a little packet of same into the pocket of his jacket as he took off for the weekend to his house (rented, but later purchased when the bottom fell out of the local maket) near the base. Sally was there, as ever, waiting for him.

Glimpsed from beneath the darker overhangings of the garden, some sort of party was clearly underway. Little flower pots were lined up along the rail of the veranda, each of which contained a seedling (one or two of them already game to shrug off their pots and make themselves more comfortable elsewhere in the house). I remember him telling me that he woke up one morning (carefully avoiding any reference to the possibility that Sally had been there too) and one of the things had slipped a couple of roots- slight, wispy things- under the soft skin of his left underarm. Easily disentangled, of course, but a later x-ray showed a surviving root making for his heart. That was a problem less easily solved.

But do you think it stopped him? It did not. The house was a distance from the main road, so who was to naysay his continued hobbying with the things. Dried animals began to be found about the place. Rats and such. Desert vermin. Better than traps, he'd joke, and raise his glass once more, taking Sally into this and all his other little conspiracies with the smallest movement of his eyebrow. Chin-chin!

And names. Of course they needed names. Tiptoe Heartflower. He joked about finding someone to translate the names into Latin. Crawling Noonsorrow (he thought it looked sad, and it certainly crawled). Flowering Dogger (this appelation deriving from the discovery, one morning, that the translucent belly-sack of one of the slower-moving shrubs appeared to contain a dog. The unfortunate beast was digested over a period of weeks. Slides were, of course, taken).

The small gathering that evening moved easily around the house, the conversation ebbing and flowing as is usual. In the silences at least she wasn't talking to him.

I sound bitter, I know. That counts as an emotion, I realise. And I realise that I realise this, and I am pleased. Which is also an emotion. Now where was I? (even this tergiversation is so novel and, and human).

I- he- stood under the Arching Tyburn (not its real name; but I am human now, moreso by the minute, and don't remember what...it was called previously). We- he -was watching this particular woman he had a bit of a pash for (slang; I do so enjoy it) but apparently she was rather taken with this other chap, who I recognised from when he seeded me in one of those little pots on his veranda. I suppose I am in his debt for this kindness, even if it was only occasioned by his curiosity, so I endeavour to try to think of him as a chap and not as a collection of minerals and organic mulches that...

No. A chap. Ladies and chaps. I remember her in her uniform, on the base. Fine figure of a gel (Gel? I wonder if that's a colloquialism- colloquial to this particular human grouping, I mean- of girl?). Cute as a button. Shiny as a new pin (What on... earth am I talking about?). Legs like... well, like legs. Legs are a bit of a novelty to us. Me, I mean. Sort of like tubers that stop on the surface of the ground and somehow resist the urge to plunge through it into the cool, moist underneath. And wear nylons, finagled from the Yanks up the road.

So there I was. All jealous and everything. Leaning against...well, me. Jealous. Angry. Fingers digging into the pale, fleshy bark of...now this is getting confusing. He wasn't quite me at that point. And I wasn't quite him. But that was a situation quickly remedied.

I wonder what he can feel, now that he's me? I'm sure he'll remember, at least for a while. But I wonder if he's aware, and if so, what he'll think, when and if he realises that this desert garden is full of nothing but cheps- former cheps- like him, all of whom took a shine to Sally Hood at one point or another during their posting, and lingered in the undergrowth a little too long?

I feel sorry for him. I do. But I console myself that plants don't think much; don't feel much (I should know!). Even walking ones. They are content (if the word can even be applied) to shuffle out their brief span and ignore whatever part of them currently hurts. Ignore it until it withers, dries and drops off.

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