Ivy felt the pain when he began to tug and yank, felt the roots begin to tear loose from the soil, and screamed in agony. Well, she would have screamed if she had a voice. And if she knew any words to scream. Instead, all she could do was tremble and shake as the man with the wild eyes and disheveled hair went bonkers and started ranting about tearing her limb from limb. Then he set about to do exactly that, and since she had no arms to fight him off, nor legs with which to run away, she had to remain still and feel every throbbing pain as the tiny roots lost their grip on the dirt and began to slide inexorably out of the huge pot in the corner of the chamber.
Mother had planted her when they first reached the asteroid after a long, arduous flight, carefully removing her from the hiding place in the deep freeze chamber in direct violation of the regulations of the mining company. The man, not her father, had been furious at mother for flouting the rules, but she stood her ground for once, insisting that if she was going to have to spend many years in a tiny mining habitat with only him for company, she would by the stars enjoy one piece of Earth, and she did not care what the regulations said. She would have her Ivy. So Ivy became her name, and also became the focal point of contentions between the two humans.
In spite of the rancor, Ivy flourished, much to mother’s surprise and the man’s disgust. Daily he threatened to rip the rapidly growing plant out of the small pot, but mother defended her. Mother always defended her, even after she had grown old and gray. Living in almost zero gravity helped Ivy, and she grew until the small pot became a large one, and the large one gave way to a huge one. Still the man threatened and still mother defended. He claimed that Ivy took too much water and gave nothing back, but mother insisted that the exchange of CO2 for oxygen was worth the water. The man would not listen.
Now, as Ivy silently screamed in pain, she seemed to hear mother’s voice laughing. Mother had dropped dead of a heart attack the day before, and the man had gone mad, so with mother’s body lying cold on the floor, Ivy imagined that she felt her hands stroking her leaves and her soft voice speaking kind, soothing words to distract Ivy from the agony of her own death. The man was indeed tearing her limb from limb, scattering shreds of her all over the room. Mother’s voice, imagined in the almost sterile living chamber, mocked the man for his bullheadedness. “Well, he will soon know what use you are, Ivy my love. Soon he will remember that the air purifiers stopped functioning last month and you are all that is keeping him alive, all that is providing oxygen and all that is scrubbing CO2 out of his air. He will learn. He will soon learn. He should have let you live at least until a ship comes in answer to the distress call.”
When the rescue crew forced their way into the habitat a month later, they were greeted by the sight of two dead humans and what looked like a ton of dry, brown vegetation. Most of the men were baffled, but Old Doc surmised that they had had a contraband houseplant. He shrugged after performing the autopsies, “She died of heart problems, but the old man would have probably survived if he hadn’t torn that plant to smithereens.” Shrugging out of his lab coat, he hung it on a peg in his office on board the rescue ship and picked up the beaker in which he had placed a tiny twig from the plant on the habitat. He smiled as he saw a single green leaf poking its way up from the brown stem in the water.
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