Christine

The first time the Aloe Vera plant spoke to her, Christine didn’t make much of it. It was a little after 4am, and she’d been playing that game everyone was obsessing over on her Switch. She was well aware that things get weird when you stay up after a certain time, but she couldn’t put it down. A few years ago, when she stayed up late to handwrite Mark a very comprehensive list of all the ways he failed her on one side, and why they should get back together on the other, she found herself baking banana bread at 5am to bargain with the aliens who were definitely about to invade New York


But after a week of her Aloe Vera calling her name and quietly humming the tune to the TV show Friends (where did it learn it, she hadn’t even watched the show in years?!), she couldn't ignore it anymore. She didn’t tell anyone about it, except for Mark, who she was in touch with again since lockdown, and who laughed and reminded her that her daily drinking habit was one of the reasons he moved out, remmber Christine? Yuck. But Mark didn’t know that her stash only made it to the second week of isolation, and she’d been too terrified to go to the bodega downstairs since. She was on a strict diet of tap water and tea, and a can of Coke Light on Sundays from the six-pack she picked up on her last trip to the supermarket. There was no way she was making this whole thing up, and, in fact, Mark could do everyone a favour and go fuck himself.


With the whoosh of her message now gone, Christine threw her phone in the laundry pile by her bed and closed the door behind her. She was in no rush getting to the living room. She straightened a picture frame, picked at her skin a little and noticed her belly was slightly smaller. Maybe Mark was right about the drinking. She missed feeling his hands wrap around her waist, and the kisses he used to plant on her neck. Sometimes he’d bite a little, and she’d pretend she didn’t like it, but her entire body would shiver in delight. Now all she got was late replies to her Whatsapp messages, which make her suspicious he’d already moved on, and was probably planting the same tender kisses on a different neck, one that maybe didn’t mainly serve as a funnel for booze.


And then it hit her. The Aloe Vera, still humming the theme tune of Friends, was a gift from Mark. He brought it over last year, when she lost her job and was spending too much time alone indoors. Mark said it would liven the place up. Naaananananaanananana. Bring some good vibes. Clap clap clap clap. And here it was, torturing her, taking over the living room with its incessant humming, making her doubt her own sanity while she’s stuck in this god damned apartment for who knows how long.


Forty minutes later, Christine posts her first ever Instagram tutorial, how to make your own plant-based antibacterial gel. She gives the guys at the bodega a bottle and gets a bunch of yellow tulips as thanks. They’re beautiful and silent, and really do liven up the room. She turns off her phone and cracks open an icy can of beer. Against the newfound quietness of her living room, it’s the best sound she’s heard in weeks.


No one told you life would be this way, indeed.



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