by E. L. Johnson
Her name was Doris.
Not fuschia, or violet, or petunia, like the pretty flowers. It was like the gods walking by decided that the other plants and flowers in the great garden were to be given beautiful names, but by the time they reached her they had run out of good ideas. So having exhausted their supply of floral and faunae related names, they assigned the plant the only name left: Doris.
Doris sighed. She wasn’t like the other flowers and plants. The pansies bloomed, the tulips blossomed, the grass grew in withery shoots that whispered gossip, while the roses huffed in their fragrant beauty and ignored her altogether.
Doris felt all alone. She was not a mean plant, far from it. She just hadn’t blossomed or bloomed into anything yet. Day after day she sat planted in the midst of the other flowers in the flower beds, waiting for something that never seemed to happen. All the other flowers bloomed. Why not her?
She wondered, was she in the wrong place? The gardeners had their reasons for putting her into the garden. She knew better than to question. She had felt the earth tremble and shake, and had heard what happened to unruly plants that grew too much or in the wrong place.
They were damned as weeds. Any disliked or unnecessary flower, herb, vegetable, or fruit were pulled from the earth. It was a grim culling, and it happened regularly. Doris hated it. She learned that the roses and flowering plants were safe, for they were beautiful.
She was not.
Doris grew wary when the gardeners approached. They were either on the lookout for weeds or new ground to plant more flowers. She withdrew when they came near, ducking her head and hiding her hideous bulbous spikes.
She bowed her head behind her leaves.
Nothing had actually touched her, yet she felt pain. She had not felt the growing shadow of the giant shape steal over her like an angry raincloud, but she felt hurt, with no fresh rainbows to cheer her.
She sensed the towering presence of the gardeners. Her leaves trembled in the morning sun.
“Come on, don’t be a dull Doris. Perk up and open your leaves,” the gardener said.
Dull Doris, dull Doris… the other flowers whispered with glee, hiding their mirth behind delicately curled flower petals.
Dull Doris, dull Doris. Don’t be a dull Doris… they chanted.
Stop it! she cried, feeling bruised and hurt.
Their laughs and snickers abused her like angry insects, battering her senses with phantom pains.
She would have welcomed the angry clouds at that point. At least then a good storm would frighten and silence the other flowers.
She soaked up the sun as best she could, nestled in the afternoon shade, and yet something was wrong. Something not quite right. She felt slightly weak and fidgety.
Then her spiky bulbous leaves opened, and it was beautiful.
“Oh look at that!” one of the gardeners said.
She could sense them towering over her. Watching, waiting.
“Look at the color. It’s like a dusky rose pink. How pretty.”
Pretty? Were they really talking about her?
The other flowers were noticeably silent. Then a fly came and ruined everything. It buzzed by, annoyingly, beating its fragile transparent wings, coming to land on her newly opened bulb.
Its tiny feet stamped and tracked dirt all over her new pink pillowy flower, staining her beauty.
The other flowers laughed and snickered, the grass whispered. Dull Doris, dull Doris.
Doris grew angry. She wasn’t going to let some stupid fly ruin her leaves. Her spiky green clawed leaves began to slowly close.
The fly grew wary and moved to fly off, but it couldn’t move. Her pillowy pink flower grew ever so slightly sticky on the surface, encasing the fly’s intruding feet.
It watched in fright as her clawed leaves rose and curled over it, trapping it within a smooth green clawed cage. It was hers now.
What to do with it?
She felt a part of herself reach out and envelope the fly. It beat a protest with its tiny wings, but its chances of escape were as great as a fresh pickle surviving a summer luncheon. Not likely.
She felt the fly’s body crush in her embrace and sensed its heart stop. The eyes popped, the wings flattened and tore, and she tasted its bodily juices, running down its small pitiful black body. She swallowed it whole and licked the juices, feeling at all once surprised. Was she meant to do that?
If she’d had lips she would have licked them. It had tasted meaty and exciting and she had found it surprisingly satisfying.
The gardeners were still there. “Look at that. It’s gone. The flower ate it. It ate the entire fly.”
Incredible? the grass whispered.
Doris opened her leaves again, leaving no trace of the intruder. Only a pretty dusky pink pillow.
She welcomed intruders now. She had a purpose. She wasn’t just another pretty flower or fruit.
She was beautiful and deadly. Flies, bees, spiders, mites, she didn’t care. She would welcome them all.
She was hungry.
The gardeners left to observe other plants. She felt the familiar tremble as the earth shook, releasing more weeds into the hands of the gardeners.
The pansies snickered and the roses sniffed. Dull Doris…
Doris turned and said, I may be Doris, but I am not dull.
She gnashed her spiked clawed jaws. And if you ever call me that again, I’ll eat you. Down to the very last leaf.
There was a stunned silence.
Incredible, the grass whispered. Incredible Doris.
Incredible? she asked. Me?
Incredible, the weeds agreed.