With the world just barely starting to bloom and leaf all around us, I find myself thinking about plants. Specifically, about the reasons plants can’t be trusted, something you all have have reminded me of.
In the desert it’s pretty instinctive that most plants can’t be trusted; even the dandelions have thorns out here. The local flora are beautiful, rooted, wise–but not at all tame or safe.
Bones of Faerie is set in Missouri, but the years I’ve spent living here were definitely an influence on the book. I stole that thorny desert dandelion (technically not a dandelion at all, but a related species) and transplanted it into the book, actually:
As I climbed the creaking steps to my house, I saw a yellow dandelion poking through the wood. I set the bucket down and tugged at the green stem; a thorn sliced my palm. I brought my hand to my mouth, cursing the spiteful plant. Taking my knife from my belt, I cut it free with a single stroke. “I’ll be back for your roots,” I promised, as I hefted the bucket again and stepped inside.
That mulberry trees can’t be trusted I think came out of my time in the Midwest, though, and out of that season where the fallen, crushed berries stained the sidewalks everywhere with their juice:
The dogs crashed through the undergrowth, onto the trail. We veered away from them, into the forest, howls echoing behind us. Blackberry brambles tangled around my ankles. I heard a crack like splitting wood, a sound like snapping bone. The howling stopped. I heard a single strangled yelp and then—silence.
Matthew and I stopped running and stared at each other. Bruised purple mulberries littered the ground at our feet, filled the air with a sickly sweet scent. Mulberry trees surrounded us on all sides; the flickering circle of torchlight seemed suddenly small. Tallow mewed softly, as if asking some question. The branches around us bent low at the sound. I was sure their green leaves heard our every breath.
So I’m curious–wherever you live, which are the plants you instinctively know can’t be trusted? The ones that you secretly suspect would, at the first hint of chlorophyll-borne sentience or free will, turn on you?
Or maybe even, what are the plants that secretly suspect already have?