African Violets

Emma Bushnell

I should move the African violets. Apparently direct sunlight will kill them, there on the ledge. So said my date, a man who works at a plant nursery.

“It looks like you’re using cold water,” he diagnosed. “Room temp only, in the saucer. Let them drink through the roots.”

“I always kill my plants,” I acknowledged.

He asked with penetrating seriousness: “are you an over waterer or an under waterer?”

I became unmoored. Some dark part of my inner self was about to be laid bare to both of us for the first time. “An under waterer.”

He nodded. There will never be anything real between us, now that we both know I’m not maternal.

I’ll move the violets to the table. They’ll still die, but I’ll not be cruel.

Emma Bushnell is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared inMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Bodega Magazine, Bustle, and elsewhere. A graduate of Tufts University, she holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and is at work on a novel.