Saturday 6 June 2020

'Keeping Company with Orchids' by Marissa Hoffmann

I have an orchid who’s a part time therapist. He offers sessions when I’m in transit up or down the staircase, but only when he’s in flower, he’s been quite clear about that.

I’ve learnt there’s no point feeling glum when his petals turn papery, fall and collect on his dusty leaves. No point at all stopping to hint about loneliness to him when he’s in that state.

That’s when I give him a bit of a soak and a feed. We all need a bit of special attention sometimes, I understand that. I can be just as empathetic. He would be the first to offer, if the tables were turned, so it’s the least I can do.

Mostly though he’s a pretty consistent producer of flowers. He puts on a good show, anyone would agree, if they were to come and see him.

He does need a lot of light, and he would be honest about that and say the winters can drag on a bit. But he knows the ‘look’ he’s aiming for; it’s dignified, and he’s single minded in that regard, so I snip any yellowed leaves off for him.

He’s read the collection on the bookcase beneath him. Rumi’s anthology, he would say, is his ‘go to’, but Deepak Chopra, he recommends as the lighter read. I think he assumes I’m in a rush. Maybe, in his opinion, I’m not ready for 13th century Sufi mystics. But they are my books.

To me, he seems satisfied, quite content, and I’ve noticed he’s very good at holding on, hanging in there, even when there are weeks when I don’t pour the bedtime water on him on a Monday morning.

For the most part, he just gets on with it, and that’s to be much admired, isn’t it?

'Keeping Company with Orchids' was previously published by the London Independent Story Prize.

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