It’s the twenty-second day of winter and I am nowhere closer to winning this battle. Mushrooms are thriving around the doorway of the apothecary shop. At this rate, they’re going to have me sealed in before spring can arrive. That’s not my main problem, though.
I scrounge around the back of the shop for another watering can and then head out to the garden. The green house in the far left field is untouched. I wasn’t stupid enough to let him in there. The rest of my plants, though…
My lettuces have turned grey and started to flake under the distress of the gentle wind. The stems for my carrots rotted the moment he stepped foot in this area, a prisoner in their soil. When I pulled them up, they were black and shriveled. Other plants show the same treatment. What was once a thriving garden is now in a match for life over death and losing more each day.
Harry is unlike anyone I’ve ever met. He’s kind and funny and paid attention when I talked about my little business. I liked that he wore bow ties to every one of our dates and didn’t make comments about my ladylike career like other people I’ve wasted time on. I wanted to take him home. I wanted it to work between us. However, he forgot to mention that he’s a lord of the Underworld.
I should have noticed sooner. There were never plants around us at our dates. Later I found out that he always got there first and disposed of them. What a huge red flag.
Other people acted odd around him. I didn’t notice. Instead, he got into my head and became attached to a sprocket of my thinking mechanism. I didn’t find it odd that severs would linger closer to my side of the table or set his food down on the edge without leaning into his personal space.
How could I?
He had me captivated with his dark, brown eyes and I was in a frenzy to find anything worth holding onto before this wretched, winter season took over my life once more.
I’m an idiot.
It killed me to oust him from my garden. I didn’t notice anything when he first stepped into the shop. Most of the plants in there are dried and mushrooms apparently have no dislike for his kind. The moment he stepped out back, though. I shudder at the memory of my plants withering before my eyes.
I finally found someone I really, really liked, but I won’t give up my life’s work and my garden for what would likely only be a fling.
I walk the even lines between garden boxes, gently watering anything that seems to still be hanging on. More blackened leaves fall from my dying plants. I don’t dare dig up the affected soil yet to see their dead roots. I have to swallow a sob. This is so not fair.
It’s not, but I’m not going to dwell on it.
Taking my watering can with me, I leave behind my dying plants to visit the green house. There’s a padlock on the outside just to keep any rambunctious teenagers or animals out of my exotic plants, but otherwise, my path is unobstructed. Using the key I keep around my throat, I let myself into the building.
Lush, green plants sprout from their designated pots. I grow things from outside of this country. Orange and yellow and pink fruits dangle from trees that branch up towards the vaulted roof. There’s a rainbow of vegetables alongside the left of my greenhouse, all of them expensive species that can single-handedly pay the rent on my property when the market comes to town and tourists arrive in hordes.
To the right, flowers in every shade appreciate the soft glow of special orbs I have situated above them. There’s striped petals on some and beautiful gradients on others. I have one species that is pink with gorgeous, yellow dots. A few carnivorous breeds hide their sharp feeding canals with bright red leaves. There’s more diversity here than the entire west coast.
I can’t ever lose this.
Lost in thought, I move around the space, gently talking to the plants as I water those that need it and sprinkle love on the ones that don’t. I could do this all day. I honestly would do this all day except there’s a knock at the door.
“The neighbors probably need something,” I mutter to an especially dazzling Dahlia before setting it back down and heading to the front of the greenhouse.
The door is already open. This can’t be happening. I recognize the tall figure from the middle of the greenhouse. He’s wearing odd clothes and partially obstructed by dangling monstera leaves, but I know who he is.
“You can’t be here!”
I inwardly cringe at my own voice. It would probably be smarter to not scream like a mad man at a lord of the dead, but I can’t contain myself. These are my plants, my life, my entire business and his presence is enough to slaughter them all.
No. I can’t do this.
Out. I have to get him out before I lose the rest of my livelihood and have to move to some deserted town in the middle of nowhere just to get by for the rest of my miserable days.
His voice is a cool balm to my frazzled nerves. It shouldn’t be. It should have the opposite effect since he’s literally every one of my current problems. However, I can’t ignore it. My shoulders loosen and a rush of excitement zips from the base of my skull to my stomach.
Gods, this isn’t fair.
As much as I would rather hide in here and not make any real eye contact or have a physical altercation, I have to save my plants, so I step closer to the door. Not directly in front of him, but within a couple of meters. He can see me. I can see him. I think I’ll completely lose my nerve if he reaches out to touch me. I’ll forget my head and say yes to some kind of deal before I can get him out of my greenhouse and effectively out of my life.
We were working so damn well before all of this.
Oh. Harry’s been talking, his face blurry behind a shield connected to the weird suit currently covering his body. I haven’t heard a single word from him. My mind is abuzz with thoughts. There’s electricity trapped within my veins. I’ve been struck by Zeus and I might not live through this encounter.
“Why are you here?” I choke on every syllable, but I get the words out between us.
He makes a gesture at his suit. “I’m trying to make this work.”
The cackle that leaves my body belongs more to a witch than myself. “Make this work? This? This isn’t anything. You left three weeks ago!”
Harry tries to put his hands in his hair, but just plunks his gloved fingers against the cage surrounding his head. “You told me to leave. I’ve decided that I should have stayed.”
What a man. Of course he thinks the solution to our problem is just him making a definitive decision and following through with it. I would kick him in the shin if I wasn’t keeping my distance from him.
“I can’t have you here, so please, just go.”
“Percy,” my name is a plea on the lips of a hanged man. He has my attention. “Please, just watch.”
He reaches his left hand towards the large, holey leaf on his side. That plant took me five years to grow. My heart leaps up from its proper place and stuffs its throbbing body into my throat.
No. Please. Not that one.
I can’t get anything out as I stagger forward and try to catch his hand. He’s quicker than me, though. The black fingertips of his suit make contact with the plant.
It’s over. It’s over. I met the wrong guy on a dating app and now my life is over.
The plant is fine.
Unlike everything in the garden outside, the monstera leaf is absolutely perfect. Heck, it’s gorgeous in his hold.
“How are you doing that?”
I can just barely see his grin through the clouded mask. “I had this suit made to contain my powers, Percy.”
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry or sputter something incomprehensible, but all of it comes out of me at once. My knees cave in. The dirt floor meets me as I crumple.
Harry kneels down in front of me while the world continues to spin. “Are you well?”
“You made this to protect my plants?” I gasp, reaching out to touch my fingers to the thick fabric covering his right forearm.
Harry’s opposite hand comes up to cover mine. “I made it for you. So, I could see you. If you’ll let me come around again?”
The words are so sincere. I’ve got this man on his knees and I have absolutely no idea what to do with that information, so I focus on something else instead.
“Wouldn’t you rather have someone more like you?”
Gods. It shouldn’t matter. My eyes are hot. The tears are starting and there’s nothing I can do to cover it. My legs are soaked from the watering can landing on its side next to me. I’m a dirty mess and this man, this lord of the dead, is staring at me like I’ve sprouted a field of dandelions off the top of my head.
Harry shakes his head. “I’m tired of those like me. I want you, Percy.”
Again, he’s made a decision and is willing to make it work by sheer force alone. “How?”
Harry gently tilts my chin up to meet his gaze through the thin barrier between us. “However you’ll have me.”
I swallow hard. He means it. This is everything I’ve fantasized about since throwing him out of my life three weeks ago.
Am I allowed to say yes to something like this?
We’re so different. We’re literally from completely different worlds. I am plants and life and he’s… he’s staring at me like nothing can change the way he feels right now.
His teeth are a million north stars blinking to life as he grins at me. I think this may be the first time I’ve seen him smile like this. Like it’s real. Like it might last.
I nod, my mind stiff foggy from the onslaught of emotions his appearance has brought. “We’ll try to make it work.”
In the next moment, he clasps his arms around me, tugging me tight to his broad chest. “We’ll make it work.”
When said like this, when uttered by a lowly god, I don’t think I have a chance to oppose him.
Our fate has been set.
For this week, I wanted a small reprieve from the crazy cast of characters I usually use. The phrase “tumultuous soulmates” immediately reminded me of the Hades and Persephone lore, so I decided to write a queer story between a plant shop owner and the devoted lord of the dead. This was a really quick and fun write, so I hoped you enjoyed reading it!
Thank you to everyone supporting this blog and my writing career! It means the world to me to see views and comments on this page every week 🙂
Please take a moment to check out Bridgette’s prompt as well: The Cornfield
We’ll see you next week!