An Incidental Gift


Venus Fly Trap

As I hurriedly walked away from the street vendor, two dollars lighter, my worries dissipated into light-hearted musings. A Venus Fly Trap! Hmmm…Just a little something–such an incidental gift (emphasis on the word “incidental”)—not the kind of gift you would have left your house intending to buy.

“What’s that?” my mother would demand to know, “Animal, vegetable or mineral?” I’d have to answer with “animal and vegetable, but neither fish nor fowl.” It’s nice little plant that lures an unsuspecting fly into its velvety maw. If she’s recovering, but I know she is not, she’ll probably ask about what kinds of bugs it will be able to eat in a hospital. Like all mothers, she always worries about everyone getting enough to eat—even a Venus Fly Trap. You could stare at it for weeks, waiting for it to perform its trick, but to no avail. I couldn’t imagine there being any bugs visible to the naked eye in the antiseptic fluorescence of her hospital room.

Safely seated away from the jostling of the subway straphangers, I was now able to pry open the plastic cube housing my new plant for whom I was already developing feelings. With only slight trepidation, I stuck my finger into the open bivalve trap, carefully avoiding the little teeth edging the leaf blades. I remember hearing that Charles Darwin himself had called it the most wonderful plant in the world. As the trap closed as much as it could around my finger, a wave of revulsion rose into my throat. I withdrew my finger, snapped the top of the plastic cube back into place, and contemplated how a vegetarian could justify owning such a plant, much less caring for it–aiding and abetting its murderous dharma.

What was I thinking? My poor mother is lying in a hospital bed, and I walk in with…what? A Venus Fly Trap? How could I have missed the irony?

My reverie is interrupted by the realization that there is a little kid sitting next to me, watching my every move. I only hope that I have not been vocalizing my thoughts. I ask the kid if she would like to have this very nice Venus Fly Trap. Her mother indirectly answers me by shouting at the kid not to talk to strangers.

The doors open…In walks an old man with a guitar and a mischievous glimmer in his eye. His pants are unzipped, but luckily still closed, thanks to the tenacity of a single button. I flash him a kindly smile which he seems to take as his cue to park himself in an empty seat across from me. I am rewarded with a loud rendition of “White Lady with the Red Lips” sung to the tune of Jim Dandy to the Rescue. Along with all the other passengers laughing at my expense, I laugh heartily at his wit, only because it is far less embarrassing than any other reaction I can think of. I dig into my back pocket, pull out a $1 bill, and stash it into the old man’s hat as he passes it around. Hahahahaha, great song! You really made my day!

The train screeches into my stop and I lurch towards the opening doors. I guess because I was the person who inspired the song, he thrusts the hat back under my nose—I nestle the Venus Fly Trap securely amid an unruly salad of $1 bills, and I walk my big red lips right off the train.

Incidentally, I’m sure he missed the irony.

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1 Comment

Filed under My Very Short Stories

One response to “An Incidental Gift

  1. A very good story and well written by the white lady with the red lips!


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