The Roots of Revenge
A short story.
The giant giggled. Her hands would have been pleasing to the eye, if Plantae and Plantbee could find the space in their figurative hearts to have fond feelings for their oppressor. But alas, she was a madwoman, and they were tired. Plantae and Plantbee barely had time to recover from the initial shock of their airborne interaction before the giant returned them to the steady surface of the table. Plantae kept his cool, but the flight had shaken Plantbee right down to her roots, and she felt the dizziness whoosh through her green leaves.
The giant behaved differently to the other members of her species Plantae and Plantbee had encountered during their imprisonment in the café. There was a wilderness in her green eyes, and a maddening fire in the cackling roar of her laughter that set the plants on edge. The giant looked at the pale pink pottery that housed Plantbee, and its blue counterpart in which Plantae resided, and a spark gleamed in her eyes. Plantae realised too late what had occurred. He recognised the remnants of another plant in the mug that sat provocatively between he and Plantbee. He knew that green, oily gleam, sensed the chaos that would soon unfold if the giant were particularly sensitive to the substance. The giant picked up Plantbee, and stared into the folds of her succulent leaves, vibrant and green and full of life. She spoke in the strange language of her giant people, more to herself than to the golden-haired giant that sat across from her, by the window on the far side of the table. She tipped her head back and giggled gleefully. Without warning, Plantae was also in the giant’s hands. She smushed he and Plantbee into each other with little regard for how they might feel about such close physical contact. If succulents could blush, Plantae would have been scarlet. Instead, he stayed a cool shade of green, as butterfly wings beat within his leaves. Plantbee, too, felt a feeling she had never felt before: a thirst for vengeance. This was the last time the giants would abuse them, the last time she would let their fellow plant cross them so with its mischievous influence.
As the giant set the succulents back down to the table, and laughed her wicked laugh, Plantbee decided it was time for a revolution.
“Pssst, Plantae,” she whispered. Plantbee wasn’t sure why she chose to whisper, since plants communicated in a language the giants could neither hear nor understand, but she felt such a plan was best delivered in a conspiring tone.
Plantae didn’t respond. His leaves were tense and stiff. He couldn’t shake the feeling of Plantbee’s leaves slotted haphazardly within the gaps between his own.
“Plantae!” she repeated, louder this time. “The giant crossed a line.”
There were many more lines Plantae wished to cross with Plantbee, without the giant thirdwheeling them. “Uh, yes,” was all he said in response.
“It’s time for revenge.”
“Against the giant?” Plantae couldn’t fathom a world where such a feat would be possible. The giant was… giant, and the succulents were small.
“No,” said Plantbee as the plan formed in her roots. “We need to cut them off at the source. It’s not just the giant, it’s the combination of giants and Ceebeedee.”
“We can’t go up against Ceebeedee,” Plantae said firmly. He still bore a scar from the last time they tried. They scar was not a physical scar, it was merely his wounded pride, but for some—whether succulents or giants—wounded pride leaves a stronger scar than any physical mutilation ever could.
“If you won’t help me, I’ll do it alone,” Plantbee said firmly.
“Fine,” Plantae said, “I’ll help you.” He worried what would happen if Plantbee sought to conquer Ceebeedee alone. Ceebeedee was quite the player. Did Plantae really want to risk an encounter between his sworn rival and his girl-who-wasn’t-his-girl? “What’s the plan?”
“We wait for nightfall,” Plantbee said. “Once the worker-giants leave, he will be unprotected.”
When nightfall came, Plantae’s bravery had almost deserted him. Plantbee was a force to be reckoned with, the sexiest succulent he had ever felt brush against his leaves. But fear is stronger than desire, and Plantae suspected his true cowardice would reveal itself before the night was out.
“It’s time,” Plantbee said as the last worker-giant turned the ‘Closed’ sign that hung from the door. She didn’t ask if he was ready.
As the door clanged shut, Plantbee shook her leaves, stretching after the day’s forced paralysis. The World Plant Committee had decided millennia ago that the giants must not know plants could fly. So, they sat, imprisoned in houses and cafes, stuck in their pots, living as mere decorations to serve the aesthetic of the ruling classes. When the giants left, or slept, or let them ‘die’ and threw them out, the plants could finally rise, and fly to freedom, if only for a little while. The plants could never truly be free. If they disappeared and did not return, the giants would know their secret. So, they waited, patiently, bided their time for climate change to take over and kill their oppressors. Some days, Plantbee could taste the freedom in the tips of her roots, dream of a better world. But for now, there was a smaller enemy to defeat, a plant that barely resembled a plant in his smooth, distorted state.
“What brings you to my jar?” Ceebeedee asked when Plantbee and Plantae landed on the counter. He was a slick gentleman, and his oily form suited his oilier personality. If jars of CBD oil could wink, Ceebeedee would have winked at Plantbee. He made her uncomfortable, but she relished in the knowledge that he would soon be far more uncomfortable than she was.
Ceebeedee rose up within the jar, pushing his oily mass against its upper walls until the lid flew off from the pressure.
“Have you been watered today,” he asked, “or are you just pleased to see me?”
Before Plantbee could think of a fitting response, Plantae dipped his roots into Ceebeedee, and sucked the oil up inside of himself until he was fit to burst. Plantae flew to the knife rack, and rubbed himself incessantly against a jagged knife until his roots were sawn off. Ceebeedee was trapped in the severed roots; he could not escape now.
“Plantae!” Plantbee sobbed as she saw the sacrifice he had made. As the life ebbed out of the now-rootless Plantae, Plantbee pushed back her figurative tears (plants can’t cry physically, but they—like all of us—spend a great deal of time crying on the inside). This was not the time for emotions, it was the time to carry on as normal, to keep the greatest secret of her species. Plantbee hoisted the lifeless Plantae up from the counter, and fitted him back into his pot. She carried her dead, green, blue-potted almost-lover back to the table where they had first met, and let herself fall apart on the inside.