For months I cared for my plant: watered it, brought in light, cleaned its jar. I noted with pleasure when new leaves began to sprout. The capillary green that unfolded overnight. I watched its roots mingle and spread, tracing against the glass. Don’t forget to watch over the plant. But when I returned from four days away, half of the leaves had yellowed. One fell off at my touch. I watched as a fifth leaf began also to lose its pigment.
We decided we’d stop for the night in Denver while eating at a Taco Johns in North Platte, Nebraska, and scanned the Expedia app on my phone. There was a 4-star hotel in the suburbs northwest of the city on sale for 86 bucks, so I reserved a room because it was the same price as the Best Western.
I killed a bird in Iowa City. It was lying, dying, on the concrete steps that led to my apartment, a basement lair whose drains sometimes backed up and belched black ooze everywhere. The bird was gasping and twitching and its eyes were shut very tight. It was a titmouse. I stepped over it and went inside.
I tried to work, but I kept thinking about the bird. I decided to call my mom, who lived far away, and ask for her advice.