That morning, as she clutched her coffee cup in left hand, and reached for the handle of the door leading to her balcony, with its floor of cement and walls to match that looked out onto a parking lot, which seemed to be nothing more than an extension of this gray box, she entered into the space she’d decorated with three small pots and two larger, filled with rosemary and mint and oregano and two peppers, one hot, one sweet, and it was here and now that she saw the wilting of their leaves so sad in the heat that was strangling the life from them, sucking the water from their stems in silence with invisible thirst, and as she looked at their wilting she felt sadness and anger in her stomach, just as much as she felt a sort of peaceful relief for the mutuality she saw between them and herself, both trying to thrive in a space that they were told to call home but felt nothing of the sort, falling short of what it meant to be more than a house, and she felt guilt then, too, for the way she had adopted these plants with hopes of creating that here, and their having no choice but to be uprooted from black plastic homes and repotted in terra cotta pots that felt too big, too hard, too foreign from what they had known before, and being optimistic they said, okay, we can try for you, we can try to live here, and being resilient they would drink the water she fed them from an olive green teakettle she found in the bottom left cupboard in her kitchen, left by the last tenant along with a gallon-sized box of powdered iced-tea mix and two tan washcloths stained with dried ketchup that she had yet to wash, and they would drink every drop and still wish for more, but it was never enough, and so each morning with her coffee cup in her left hand she would look at the way their leaves wilted a little closer towards the cement, and she would tell herself that she was crazy, that the plants were fine, everything was fine, and she’d sit in an uncomfortable lawn chair and think about the irony of that, and sip on her drink looking out towards the parking lot with its white lines painted on black, creating order in chaos, and wonder what she would do today to keep herself from overthinking wilting leaves, and she’d keep this up until her cup was dry, and she noticed the sweat formed on her lower back as it trickled down her skin, awakening her cells with the sensation of touch, feeling a calm rush, a paradox like the kind she’d get when he’d stroke her hair or she’d press her head into his chest, sighing a happy hmmmn that filled the air on their back porch with the quiet joy of cool, early mornings back east, and another drop dripped down her back and she looked once more at the terra cotta pots, where a pepper had just broken off from its stem, that now sat by itself on the cement floor of her balcony, away from and looking back at the others, while the heat pressed on, unable to hold on any longer.
Cassia Hameline is a graduate student in the Creative Writing doctoral program at the University of North Texas. She identifies herself primarily as a nonfiction writer, but enjoys experimenting with form and pushing the lines between genres. Her previous work has been published by the Utica Writers Club, the ReviewReview, and Revolution House Magazine. When she is not writing, you will find her in the woods with her dog, Moab.