“A house plant is good practice for a pet,” Julio’s mother had told him. “It takes a little bit of care to let it thrive. You’ve got to give it water, which is like feeding a pet, and make sure it gets lots of sunshine, okay? It helps to talk to it every day. A little bit of love goes a long way, you know? If you can keep this plant in good shape for a couple of months, we’ll talk again about getting a puppy, okay?”
It had been a month since that day, and Julio stared at wilted remains of his chrysanthemum. The broken ruins of his mother’s trust stared back. Julio quickly decided it was time to tell his mother the truth. He picked up the dead mum and brought it into the kitchen.
Julio’s mother was cooking breakfast at the stove, her back turned to the room. Julio brought the mum down on the counter of the kitchen island with a loud thud. The noise failed to get his mother’s attention.
“Mom?” Julio called.
“Yes, dear?” his mother responded without turningto face him.
“Mom, I have to tell you something.”
“Mom , today I went to check on my plant and…”
“Mom, I know now that I’m incapable of loving another living thing.”
Julio’s mother put down the spatula and turned around, thoroughly confused. “What?” Before Julio could answer, however, she noticed the plant. “Oh no! Julio, I told you that you had to take care of this plant.”
“I know, mother,” Julio said, nodding. “You said a little bit of love goes a long way. The plant was dead in just a few weeks. Obviously I had no love to give. The plant’s leaves are brown because my heart is black.”
Julio’s mother stared at him blankly for a moment before responding. “Julio, there’s no need to be so melodramatic. You just have to be more careful.”
It was obvious to Julio, partly because of his conscious awakening just a few moments prior, that his mother was not going to listen to him. She did not want to know the truth. Julio smiled, a thing he’d done a thousand times before, only this time it was different. There was nothing behind the smile, no happiness, no emotion at all. The smile was a lie – the first of many. “Okay, mom!” Julio said enthusiastically, and gave a forced giggle.
His mother smiled back at him. “Okay, well…maybe we can get you a puppy anyway. But you have to promise to do what you have to do, all right?”
“I promise, mom. I know what I have to do,” Julio told his mother. Silently, though, Julio only thought a single, emphatic word: Soon.