In a small town, where all of the hills were high and the sun was blue, there lived a skinny, glum man named Mr. Hue. He drove home slowly one dim day, with both hands around the wheel and his long back arched to the annoyed and honking drivers behind him. He ignored them as he continued on his way, with his tired eyes glued on the straight road ahead of him.
He had been fired from his job that day for lack of enthusiasm. His old boss, Mr. Fact, is the biggest money-maker in the town. He hosts many events; invests in a plethora of businesses; owns a car company; is running for mayor; takes pictures with homeless people and the products, services, and urban developments he improves for them monthly, so that he can be printed on the front page of the local newspaper and displayed on promotional television channels; in addition to ordering around his employees at The Day Shop. All he wanted Mr. Hue to do was carry a smile around all day as long as he was at work — at least. Enough was enough; Mr. Hue failed to abide, yet again, and so he was fired.
Once home, Mr. Hue parked his small car in the driveway. He stepped out and was, in fact, twice the size of it. His twitchy neighbor, Ms. Peterson, watched him suspiciously as she soaked her droopy front yard plants with water from her hose. He saw her, but ignored and walked inside his quaint little house, stooped and sulking. He tossed his keys into the tiny transparent bowl that sat on the tiny table next to the front door, without looking. He proceeded to the kitchen and made himself a mug of hot coffee. Maybe that would ease the discouragement a little bit. He took his brewed coffee to the living room and sat on his ratty recliner while staring at his sorrowful reflection on the television screen as he took a sip.
At that moment, he remembered passing the mailbox without checking it before he got inside. So he stood up quickly, accidentally spilling his coffee on his shirt.
“Argh!” He grumbled despondently as he threw his mug on the carpeted floor.
For Mr. Hue, an incident like this was the universe’s wicked way of trying to hinder him from his duties, and he hated that. Consequently, he ignored the uncomfortable wetness and stormed for the front door. He walked through the short yellow grass of his forked front lawn to the mailbox that stood at the curb. His neighbor continued to water her plants behind him, and she shot a few cautious eyes at him as he checked his mail. In the stack he pulled out, there were only two envelopes and some junk mail. He tossed the junk mail on the dry grass at his big feet and then opened one of the envelopes.
It was a letter informing him of his outstanding bills. As his drowsy eyes scanned the unfolded piece of paper to discover what it had to say in detail, he learned that he was three months overdue. All in all, his debt was over £5000. Mr. Hue’s head fell back and he cursed to the sky. Ms. Peterson dropped her hose and then scurried inside instantaneously.
Mr. Hue then crumpled up the paper with its envelope, and let them fall with the junk mail. He turned his head slowly and looked over his shoulder at his house. The shingles were worn and chipped and falling off; the white brick exterior was dirty and faded from its innovated coating, as well as cracked; the bare wilted tree that bent over the house and stretched out its crooked branches, mixed with the dimly lit afternoon in its ordinary shade of blue, that emitted from the sun, gave a warm and cozy — and somehow eerie — vibe to the place; and the glass of the window by the attic was shattered and needed to be repaired. Despite all he saw and knew, just by examining his residence, Mr. Hue felt sadness in his heart; a sadness that tore away at it and pleaded for repair notwithstanding its will to damage. He didn’t want the people who organized his letter to throw him out of his own home and tow it away — the act was something that indeed went on in this strange town — in exception of particular circumstances — when people refused to pay their debts. Founded on flat ground at the corner of the block, his small house stood there, unaware of its harsh probable destiny.
Nonetheless, Mr. Hue tried to calm down as he opened the other letter. This one was from his mother-in-law, Sharon. The letter stated her upcoming arrival to his home — as previously planned — with her daughter, Sarah Hue, for supper. This meant that he would have to cook a meal. He felt like he was required to prepare a delightful one so that his mother-in-law wouldn’t take his sweet Sarah away from him. Her beady eyes, long disheveled hair, and gorgeous smile with a heart to match all flooded back to him then. He imagined her and his home being taken away from him. That would be the worst thing that could happen to a man as glum and hopeless as Mr. Hue; his life — or what’s left of it — stripped away with the metaphoric foundation at his feet.
He read the tiny message at the body of the page:
Do not forget the package. It is a welcome-to-the-family gift. Enjoy.
Mr. Hue couldn’t spot his “welcome-to-the-family gift” anywhere. Then, there it was, in his mailbox. He reached in and pulled out a brown box that was tied up with string. He stared at it blankly. It wasn’t there before. All the same, he untied it and ripped off the brown wrapping.
There was a flower inside. It was a yellow spotted flower with a rainbow-colored stamen. Its aroma was most divine. It almost made Mr. Hue…smile. But he suppressed it, of course. He found it a little strange how his mother-in-law would give him a plant when they were all in the midst of a terrible drought that resulted in everyone’s lack of sufficient water and the sun’s loss of energy. It had been lasting more or less three months now. Be that as it may, he proceeded to plant the flower next to his other withered front yard ones. It brightened up his entire estate. He grabbed Ms. Peterson’s hose and sprayed his new flower with a pull of its trigger. Then, he put the hose back where he found it and walked into his house.
Mr. Hue went straight to the kitchen and took out his cookbook. He flicked the light switch, but the kitchen light wouldn’t turn on. His head dropped in realization that his power had been cut, and then tried the tap, but not even a drop of water fell from the faucet.
Something that does not require a water mixture, he thought miserably as he flipped through the cookbook.
He couldn’t find a single recipe that didn’t require a least a dash of water. So he slammed the fat book shut and sighed deeply. He put it away and then gripped the edge of the kitchen counter to support his upper body, while scanning the kitchen, thinking of what he should fix for his mother-in-law’s and her daughter’s arrival.
* * *
Two days later, Mr. Hue found himself slouching in a small chair by the dining table. His wife and mother-in-law were at the table as well. Sarah took a big bite out of her pizza and then beamed at her husband as she chewed blissfully. Her mother scrutinized the house and food, with her small, wrinkled lips pursed and tight and her hands intertwined on her lap under the table.
“So,” she snapped with a cock of her head, “Ted, have you received my gift?” She asked Mr. Hue eagerly, her posture restrained.
He nodded as he sprinkled a dash of salt on his slice of pizza.
“It is a beauty, is it not?”
“Mum,” Sarah interjected. “Why can’t I live here, with Ted?”
“Do not be absurd, child,” Sharon jeered as she sneered at Mr. Hue, “I will not tell you again.”
Sarah looked into her lap sadly. Mr. Hue knew he had no water, heat, lights, money, a job now, or space in the house to support his wife if she stayed with him. Besides the memories, and the metaphoric foundation his home made, his wife — who contributed to the foundation — meant more to him. In due course, he would buy a new house so that once he was on top of his feet again, he could provide for his wife — first and foremost — and himself. Though, now that he had no job, it all seemed bleak.
When Mr. Hue’s mother-in-law and wife had to bid him farewell, he watched them off and closed the front door. He turned around gasped at the mess on the table, and then frowned.
It didn’t take long for him to clean up it up, though. By the time he was done, he spotted the plant on his front yard. It had grown nearly a meter. Mr. Hue was astounded. As he made his way to it, his mind struggled to understand how it could’ve grown without water and barely any sunlight. Outside, he figured that it could’ve been Ms. Peterson, which brought him to knock on her front door. She opened it wide, but once she noticed it was Mr. Hue, she quickly closed it to a crack that disclosed only one of her eyes.
“Y-yes…Mr. Hue?” she stammered quietly.
“Did you water my plants recently?” he asked her in a low, deep rumble.
“No,” she answered abruptly, “I would never touch your belongings without your consent, I swear.”
And with that, Mr. Hue walked back inside his house.
Another day passed, and he noticed that it grew about another meter taller.
Yet another went by, and it grew again!
The next day, Mr. Hue was sitting in his recliner, trying to read the newspaper in a ray of dim bluish sunlight that glowed through the window. He glowered drowsily at a picture of Mr. Fact posing on the front page with an arm around a homeless man and a beaming smile on his face. He was wearing a suit, and hundreds of canned goods were stacked around them with some boxes labeled, “CANNED GOODS”. The homeless man wore tattered rags and was also smiling, with a thumb up. Without even reading the caption, Mr. Hue envied Mr. Fact’s success, and hated the fact that he was fired from his only money source by him.
Just then, he heard glass shatter from the front of the house. He lowered the paper as his head flew up and he looked in the direction of the sound before getting up and heading over there. To his surprise, the flower with miraculous growth was now taller than him and dancing through the broken window there. It resembled a wild beast; the way it looked now with visible fur and prickly bits; its size; determined drive.
Mr. Hue carefully reached for an umbrella in the umbrella holder next to the front door, not taking his red eyes off of the flower as it wriggled though the window. The flower seemed to have noticed the movement Mr. Hue was making, still. It lunged and clamped at him, but Mr. Hue jumped back with a quavering shout and the chosen umbrella in his shaky grasp. He stared into the face of the terrifying flower as its outstretched petals and the contents that it enclosed sprouted out into his sweaty one. Mr. Hue held the closed umbrella with both hands up at his shoulder, trembling in fear and wondering what his mother-in-law was thinking when she sent this thing to him.