It was a bright and sunny day. Alright, so it lacked the psychological impact of a storm, but in life that doesn't matter. It's the events that matter.

The florist shop had been there as long as I'd been here. 17 years. It was odd, that shop. The outside of the once white shop was dingy gray with chipped shingles and a dilapidated sign. No one had ever seen it open, or seen anyone inside. Still, the lawn was trimmed and no matter how harsh the winter the driveway was always plowed clear of snow. The crowning paradox of abandonment and care was the flowers. The hothouse was always full of plants. The blooms flourished during all seasons, so someone must have taken care of them.

I'd been walking home for years, and the shop piqued my curiosity. Every day I walked by it and glanced into the windows, beyond the CLOSED sign, for any indication of human presence. There never was.

Then, one beautiful March day I followed my usual ritual. I crossed the street, glanced behind the sign and through the grimy windows. Everything looked the same as it always did. Then my brain processed the letters on the sign. OPEN. That gave me permission to snoop.

Inside it was different from what I expected. Messier maybe. A giant spider plant hung over the door, trailing a veil of shoots. I pushed it aside, untangling the little plants from my hair. There were plants all over, more like a jungle than a florist shop. Also, a funny smell hung in the damp air.

"Hello? Hello. Hello!" I wandered around the shop, reaching the junction between shop and hothouse. On the floor lay what looked like a cloth sack. I peered closed and it hit me. The smell was like nothing I ever. . . IT beat out even the scent of anatomy lab. This was bad. It was an elderly man. He was dead. He'd been dead for some time. I'm no coroner, but I knew this man hadn't opened the store this morning and then succumbed to a heart attack. I felt bad, poor guy, but even as I backed away I noticed the mark n his neck. It looked as though he'd been strangled by a piece of twine. The semi-detached spell broke. I started to panic, and to talk to myself. "Calm, calm, get the hell out of here. . . call 911, police. . ."

Backing up I tripped over a potted plant. I didn't remember that being there. . . As I turned and walked toward the door I noticed more plants and flowers than I'd first seen. Right next to the spider plant hung a plant with little, shiny, dark green leaves and tiny white flowers. Something beyond the dead body was. . . off. Who could have wanted to hurt some reclusive old man? Enough questions. Another wave of panic swept over me and I bolted for the door.

Once again I brushed aside the spider plant and once again got caught by its shoots. I struggled to free myself and just got more entrapped. While fighting the plant I noticed a brown shoot. It wasn't as brown, shriveled, and twig like as most dead shoots were, but a normal looking healthy thing. It was just the color. . . dark and an almost rusty red, like dried blood. A long cord-like thing covered with brown stains. . .

I screamed and screamed, all the while pulling away from the murderous plant. It couldn't have, but. . . I sped out and ran the rest of the way home. As soon as I arrived I called the police.

About an hour later I heard police sirens. It seemed strange, the guy was already dead, why the rush now? They passed by the house, but in the wrong direction.

Suddenly I woke up, slammed the alarm clock, and went back to sleep. This time no dreams came. That night I was the last person to go to sleep. It was my job to close up and turn off the lights. I headed down to the basement and turned off the light over the washing machine. When I came near the plant table I paused. The sight of that plethora of plants frightened me. It's not like they're out to kill me. I laughed at myself.

As I reached for the switch I saw that an empty place on the table had been taken. The vacancy was filled by a young spider plant. When did that get there?

"Mom!"