Once Upon a Pitcher Plant

The first time it happened, Hems was greatly displeased. In fact, ‘greatly displeased’ might be an understatement of the reaction one would usually have to being pooped on. 

However, Hems was, in fact, a plant, and thus there was not much he could do about the uninvited guest’s droppings. The perpetrator, a funny looking furball, was none the wiser of his disgust and lingered unperturbed. As if he didn’t feel violated enough, the furry stranger’s weird hollow noises gave Hems a dull ache which reverberated throughout his walls. This creature obviously had no concept of personal space. To his relief, it finally flew away a few droppings later, just as abruptly as it had arrived.

In the hours that followed, Hems would suddenly find himself with a surprising surge of energy. He had never felt anything quite like it before.

Unlike his relatives, Hems was never too good at hunting for his food. Something about watching his prey struggle as their life force was slowly sucked out just didn’t sit right with him. He’d hate to admit it, but deep down he knew that one of the reasons was that he didn’t have the body for it anyway. His body, in this case, was apparently now a convenient receptacle for somebody’s solid waste. 

Nevertheless, he was glad to be rid of such a rude, unpleasant encounter and begrudgingly wrote it off as bad luck. 

But alas, not a day later, who should once again descend but the Furry Creature, except now with a little less hesitation than before. This time, it stayed longer, pooped a lot more too. When the sky grew dark it finally arose from its slumber and emerged, just as Hems began to feel a renewed vitality that would last for hours this time.

Hems had always considered himself something of a scientist. Now, said scientist in him was, not quite anticipating, but also not completely dreading the return of the mysterious pooper. He had a hypothesis to test. 

And test it, he did. It was confirmed the third time, then the fourth, fifth and sixth, that the defecation of Furry Creature somehow contained some mysterious life substance that caused his gears to turn again. Energy coursed through his body. 

The creature seemed to have taken a liking to Hems too, for every day, it would return to him to roost without fail. Snuggled up in the safety of its newfound cradle, it freely deposited onto Hems’ walls the processed contents of the day’s diet. Of course, Hems didn’t mind – he felt truly alive, and for this, the lingering smell of feces was a small price to pay. Slowly, even the periodic vibrations on his now-strengthened walls, made by the creature’s calls, grew to be an oddly comforting feeling.

Weeks passed, then months. Though they never were able to communicate with each other in words, an unspoken bond was formed between the two unlikely acquaintances. Aside from the revitalisation that his new tenant brought, Hems had grown accustomed to Furry Creature’s company.

It was a sunny day in May when things changed. Furry Creature had left in the morning as usual, but its return was a little off-schedule that evening. It was only three hours after sunset when Hems had a flash of a foreboding feeling. He quickly suppressed it. His companion would be back the next day, he was convinced of it.

Furry Creature was not back the next day. Nor the day after. 

Without his daily source of nutrients, Hems began to feel himself getting weaker. A stray ant or two had inadvertently wandered in to be consumed by him, but it didn’t quite provide the nourishment he’d grown used to. He even felt a little sick afterwards.

More importantly, he missed Furry Creature. For the first time in months, Hems was lonely. He wondered what had happened to his friend. 

Having gone more than a week without adequate nourishment, Hems grew feeble as the days passed without Furry Creature’s return. The verve that once coursed through his vessels had halted and was now replaced with stagnancy and malnourishment. 

He couldn’t hold on much longer now. Hems was discoloured, fading fast. He wished to have his furry friend back one last time.

Suddenly, he felt a familiar vibration from a distance. Could it be…? He was too far gone to tell if he was hallucinating. 

But there it was again. Nearer this time, and accompanied by… what was it? 

A second echo. Similar but squeakier.

As the familiar silhouette drew close, Hems finally felt peace as he slipped away from the world.

Furry Creature could not contain her sorrow as she approached her withered friend. He obviously had not coped well since she’d been away. Her newborn child in tow, she carefully slipped into his wilted receptacle. Nestling gently against his once-familiar walls, Furry Creature could’ve sworn she felt her weakened friend envelop her in one last hug.

Characters written in this story are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to real creatures is purely coincidental. 

Written by Cheryl Leong
Illustrations by Jasreel Tan