Penny for your Thoughts: it came to mind because of this week’s #writephoto prompt – the Money Tree.

If you’d like a regular flash fiction prompt, then consider popping over to KL Caley’s website New2Writing.com, and check out the Writephoto section on the menu. There’s a new prompt every Thursday, and reblogs and a round-up post to give all the entries a chance to shine.

So here’s this week’s photo:

It reminded me of a plant that is flourishing after I nearly threw it out. Not one of my dad’s. I still have one of his bonsai trees, though. The story is just under 800 words, which seems to be my optimum at the moment.

Penny for your Thoughts

It had been nearly dead when she’d rescued it from her parents’ house. 

They’d had permission to enter and clear out the fridge and the freezer and everything else perishable. But in all the confusion, the stress of Mum’s funeral, and putting Dad into a home, the garden plants had been left to fend for themselves.  

Six months on, she’d gone back to see what needed to be done. It had to be her, because she was the only one within the allowed distance, and she’d had her vaccinations. 

Standing outside the house, she wondered how bad it was going to be inside. A neighbour came over. 

“I’ve kept the lawn down, it was no trouble. Couldn’t get round the back though.”

She thanked him, not managing to find his name, but remembering all about his fishing exploits and the dog he used to have. “We’ll be putting it on the market, of course, but…well, despite what they say we don’t mind waiting, as long as we don’t have to pay Council tax on it.  And we might.”

The neighbour nodded.  “I’ll keep an eye on it, don’t you worry. And if I can do anything, just say.”

She nodded, grateful for the kindness, and not wanting to sob aloud.

She opened the door. Just a sensible, 70s bungalow, three bedrooms and a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Pleasant size, easy to manage, lovely garden… well, it used to be.

Dad’s once prized greenhouse had fallen to pieces. 

The rockery was overgrown, and the grass was lumpy. Once the summer growth got going, it would be knee high. She wandered round the little pathway alongside Dad’s cordon apple trees, looking at them bursting their buds, thinking of the care he’d given them, even this last year.  He could prune his trees perfectly when he couldn’t remember his name or who she was. He would have been in a home much earlier if Mum hadn’t insisted he was okay most of the time.

Then Mum had a fall, and had to stay in hospital, and then she got Covid.

She looked inside the ruined greenhouse.

A plant stood in its pot in one corner. A pane of glass lay across it, balanced on the staging where he’d put his tomatoes every year. It was some sort of succulent, although its fleshy leaves were dry and shrivelled now.  Lucky, really, since succulents could often cope with dry cold, but not wet. She wondered if she should just throw it away, but she hauled it out, and put it by the front door.

She looked over the house with an estate agent’s eye, and dictated notes on her iPad about things that needed removing. If she told her brothers they could agree who did what, and when. She could not do all this on her own.

After a couple of hours assessing the work needed, she packed up the most obvious things she could take straight away. She opened her driver’s door, and paused.  Something else she meant to put in. Oh yes, the dead plant. Well, maybe it was dead. Silly really, just a sentimental thought that she could do something for it.

A year on, the plant was flourishing. It had even thrown up new plants, some of which she’d trimmed off and set in their own pots.  She took one into the care home and put it in her father’s room.

“Hello, missus, what’s that you’ve got?” he asked.  He never knew who she was, but he called her missus, just as he called every woman who he saw. 

“It’s one of your plants, Dad.  I can’t remember its name.”

“That’s a money-tree, that is.  Used to have a big one, put it in the greenhouse in winter.”

“Yes, you did, Dad. This is one of its babies.” 

He seemed reborn by the plant. “I got the original from Aileen when she visited from South Africa. We had a lovely time then.”

The senior nursing sister put her head round the door and wobbled her eyebrows. 

“Be right back Dad.”

“He’s sounding very alert all of a sudden,” the sister commented.

“He recognised the plant I brought in. I’m amazed.  He sounds like…” he always was, she thought.

“Don’t raise your hopes,” the sister said. “It happens for a wee while for some, but it’s like remission, you know.”

She nodded, and returned to her father.

He was staring at the plant.

“Penny for your thoughts, Dad?”

“Ah, that’s why it’s called a money-tree, you see.  Leaves looks like coins.  A penny for your thoughts. You’ll always remember if you’ve got a money-tree.”

He was always in her thoughts when she looked at the original, anyway.

© J M Pett 2021

Penny for your Thoughts #writephoto #flashfiction; 'That’s a money-tree, that is.  Used to have a big one, put it in the greenhouse in winter.' #family Click To Tweet
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Penny for your Thoughts #writephoto #flashfiction
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6 thoughts on “Penny for your Thoughts #writephoto #flashfiction

  • 24 May, 2021 at 9:12 am
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    Lovely story. My dad could still identify every tree and bird long after he’d forgotten who I was. When he started to forget names, he called every woman Sweetheart 🙂

    Reply
    • 24 May, 2021 at 11:08 am
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      Fortunately my Dad was fine, but my Mum had dementia and she lost plant names before we really appreciated her problem. Mind you, I have to fish for plant names at present. They’re buried under other stuff in my brain, I think.

      Reply
    • 25 May, 2021 at 11:58 am
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      The neglected plant I thought was dead was one of mine – it’s doing better now than the one that was more cossetted!

      Reply
  • 27 May, 2021 at 6:19 pm
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    Hmm… looks like what I call a jade plant–and sure enough, same thing!
    That’s a beautiful story.

    Reply

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