She woke with a leaf on her tongue.
She blinked, drew it out of her mouth, and held it up to the light.
And she placed it on the bedside table, in between the pill bottle and book that seduced her into sleep each night.
It was the next day when she found the first creeper. She was running a brush through her hair when it snagged on something more than a tangle. When she looked at the brush, a snaking line of ivy was wrapped around the bristles.
Once it was noted, the growth was remarkable.
There were more leaves each day, emerald green and waxy, spiralling in coiled strands from her scalp. She secretly admired the way they fell, and began plaiting the creepers in with her hair, thick sheaves of green against her auburn. She wound them around her crown, and felt like a warrior queen as she put the rubbish out.
At the breakfast table, her husband glared at her forehead as he munched his toast.
You seem to have ivy in your eyebrows.
His tone was reproachful, as though her wildness was her choice.
She reached up, and plucked out a thin green curl.
I’ll try to keep myself in line, she murmured, cradling the strand in her palm.
At the organic store, she opened her mouth to ask for grapes and stood, astonished, as a dozen leaves fell out instead, spiralling to the counter top like tiny forest dancers.
The shopkeeper stared; at them, then at her. And she swept the leaves into her hand, winked, and scattered them in her hair as she turned for the door.
She wondered when the roots would appear from the soles of her feet, and drew a wary breath. Ivy snakes down deep, and no manner of careful gardening can safely pull the roots up again, once they’ve found a home.
If they did that here, in this land where the pills were plentiful and the gardens were scarce, she knew what would happen.
The ivy would creep down her body, curling around her limbs and wrapping tight around her bones; the roots would reach into the earth and pull her down into the damp soil.
And sooner or later she’d just stop, overgrown and overcome.
She’d stand still.
Close her eyes.
And just let it grow.
Like all regeneration, you have to be in the right place to truly appreciate it.
As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone,
It hides the decay it feeds upon