She was a woman who liked the idea of something, but could never commit herself. She liked the idea of walks along a rocky, desolate sea-shore, but could never convince herself to go out into the piercing wind. She was a person who enjoyed the idea of tea-time, but she never brewed a pot of tea. If she drank coffee, she forgot about it, and it was left to cool on the counter. She liked to write, above all, but could never work past those first few wobbly lines.
“I am a much more interesting person on paper,” she would tell herself; and in part, she was. On paper she was interested in the outdoors, on paper she baked and ate bread fresh out of the oven, and on paper she was even good at making love.
Every morning she would wake up and sigh, “Today I am really going to finish something—anything.” But she wouldn’t. She never did.
She spent her days moping about, in a state of self-induced melancholy, without really realizing it. After all, it was her natural state of mind. “Oh, I’m just not good at that,” she would say, or “Really, I just have no time for that today,” or even, “I’d much rather spend time watching the birds, thank you, than have to do that.”
And so her coffee would remain silently cooling, her pen would lay splayed across her “to do” list, and there was always a ball of yarn asleep at her feet.
It was then, on one of the most ordinary mornings, while she was beginning something that she likely would never finish, that it came to her in the form of a knock on the door.
“I’ve got a delivery for you, ma’am,” said a gruff voice, spilling out from under a blue Serpost hat. “Could you please sign here?” oh dear, she thought. “Oh my,” she whispered. who would ever send me a package?
“Well,” said the post man, a bit taken aback, “Most people are happy to receive packages. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Just think of it as a nice surprise for you today.” He smiled as he took the pen from her. “Enjoy it, ma’am.”
She took the package. Unsure of what exactly to do with it, she brought the box inside. She even thought about opening it, but stopped herself before she got carried away. It was a decent sized box, and it certainly didn’t weigh much.
It took her the better part of the day to get around to opening it, and even then, she was hesitant. oh dear…what if its something I don’t particularly want? maybe I’ll just leave it by the door. But something encouraged at her to open it. Inch by inch she tugged and pulled at the tape cautiously, and along with a bit of fear.
Finally, she opened the lid, and there it was. Small, golden colored, and very much alive. “A Pepper Plant?” She cried. “Who would send me a pepper plant?”
It was only then that she noticed the address wasn’t hers. “Oh dear. There you have it, I’ve opened someone else’s mail. And that’s the reward I get for finishing something I started! My goodness me!” She stood up abruptly, and sped into the other room, leaving the plant, the box and her scissors behind her. Everything, of course, in a half-completed mess on the floor.
But after a while, she had nothing better to do, so she went back to the living room. “A pepper plant!” she repeated all afternoon, with different levels of awe, disbelief and frustration. “There isn’t much use in me sending it back, seeing as I’ve opened it and all. Serpost would be sure to lose it, wouldn’t they? And besides, it does need some water.”
As she reached carefully into the box, she began to talk with the pepper plant, crooning words of welcome, and caressing the finger-like spires that protruded from the green leaves. “I’m sure you wouldn’t survive the return trip, now would you? Who knows how they would treat you wherever you are going, anyway.” And she moved, plant in hand, into the kitchen for some water.
“Now, I’ve no idea where I will put you,” she remarked. “There isn’t much room in this place, but I suppose you will need a window. I could hardly put you in my room—that wouldn’t feel right. I guess you should be in the kitchen. We’ll see how you do for now.” She stuck the plant by a slightly open window, and swore that its leaves moved in appreciation. The plant looked out the window at rows and rows and rows of houses and apartments. An extensive city stretched out before him, with a hint of the ocean visible through the fog. A bleak view, to say the least, if it weren’t for a tiny ray of sunshine that peeked through the clouds and illuminated the windowsill.
“Ha! That’s fitting,” she laughed, “The sun doesn’t come out here often. I guess the kitchen is just the right spot for you.”
The next morning the woman woke up and made herself a steaming cup of coffee. She stood by the plant as she drank it, inspected its leaves, the small insects that seemed to have come with the plant, and the fingery peppers themselves.
She began to talk to the plant, introducing herself, and tried to get to know it better and better. “You know, I suppose since we are going to be living together, there are a few things you should know about me. I don’t particularly like loud noises, I can’t stand the cold, and I never finish a cup of coffee.”
That last one surprised even her. I always finish my cup of coffee!
You didn’t yesterday. The plant seemed to respond.
That’s not true! Maybe I did set it out in the morning, but I always finish it in the afternoon!
To that, the plant responded by pointing one of its long peppers at the row of half-empty cups along the counter.
“Well, I’ll show you!” And she responded to the plant by finishing her entire cup of steaming coffee.
She didn’t even wait for it to cool.