Scowling at the long-legged green fiend currently occupying her living room, Gaea half listens to her mother through the phone. “-it could be dangerous. I’m just asking you to think about it. Maybe you should come back home,” her mother casually suggests.
Huffing with annoyance, Gaea rolls her eyes and turns into her kitchen, “No thank you, mother. I like it here; I–”.
“You just moved in,” her mother interjects, “You don’t know enough to like anything”.
Gaea chuckles to herself, “Mother, I’m 25; I attended both undergraduate and graduate school in this area. I know plenty,” grabbing a cup from the cabinet, “How much water am I supposed to give Eden again?”
“But you know plenty,” her mother mocks.
“Yes, mother; I know plenty about this city, my apartment, how to keep myself alive. I know everything I need to know, but” she pauses to peek around the corner at the large plant lounging its long limbs across her couch, “I know very little about keeping Eden alive. I tried moving her to the balcony this morning and she bristled up her leaves and flashed a venomous yellow at me. I think she’s angry”.
“Of course she is,” her mother agrees, “Eden is a houseplant and has been raised indoors. She’s delicate; why on earth would you place her outside?”
“More like a brat,” Gaea projects as she slightly raises her voice hoping to agitate Eden, “It’s a plant and it should be happy if I remember to water it at least once a month”.
“Gaea!” her mother exclaims in horror, “Be nice to her; she’s an older plant and has been in this family since your great grandmother immigrated to this–”.
“To this country,” Gaea completes, “I know”.
The story of Gaea the First, Gaea’s great grandmother as she was only Gaea the fourth herself, and how she traveled to this country with nothing but seventy-five cents in one pocket and the clipping of a weed in the other, was a story she grew up hearing frequently. When she was six and first told this story, she would imagine a red-headed version of herself only ten years older with long braided pigtails, fair freckled skin, and dressed in old-timey clothes. In pictures, Gaea and her great grandmother could almost past for twins if not for her own tanned skin and strawberry-blond hair. Gaea’s great grandmother was a brash young woman in her youth and was running away in spite of her parents when she immigrated to America. Allegedly, she had run to the dock in a rage so blinding, she forgot to pack anything and snuck onto the first ship in sight. Her journey was tumultuous and took eight weeks longer than the standard six weeks it took to get from Europe to America in 1910. Gaea the First survived the journey by rummaging through passengers’ luggage and stealing from occupied rooms. When she finally stepped foot in New York, she was malnourished and as dirty as a street urchin, but very much determined to survive. Throwing caution to the wind, she spent the only seventy-five cents she had on two burgers, a pot, and some dirt. After she scarfed down her food, Gaea the First planted the weed that had snuck along with her and started what would eventually become Gaea’s Green Garden – a gardening empire as large and well known as Home Depot and Lowes.
And shocker, Eden, the only plant within Gaea’s apartment that was currently hogging her entire couch, was the original weed Gaea the First had planted back in 1910. In the one hundred ten years Eden has spent with Gaea family, she had propagated hundreds of her own children, outgrown dozens of pots, and was presently a ten-foot multi-legged overgrown annoyance. Per tradition, Eden was passed down to the first-born daughter within the immediate family whenever she moved into her first home, and unluckily for Gaea, that meant her.
Innhirting Eden wasn’t much of a surprise to Gaea as she grew up with the plant and was always told it would eventually become hers. She had just hoped the beast would eventually die before her time came. As a kid, she had purposefully tortured the poor thing always stepping on its limbs that lingered on the floor too long and pouring her soda in its pot before her mother found out and moved Eden to a higher shelf that little Gaea couldn’t reach. But regardless of her abuse, the plant had miraculously thrived and now taunted her within her own home.
It had crossed her mind when she was in college that she could somehow accidentally kill it, but her mother would know better and refuse Gaea her share in the family’s company. So, until Gaea died, or she had a daughter that would eventually move into her own home, Gaea was stuck with Eden. And Eden couldn’t find their situation any funnier.