Peace Offering

Peace Offering

by Roger Ley

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Riley signed for the package and came back inside the house.

What was the delivery?’ asked his wife Barbara looking up from her tablet?

He looked at the label. ‘Actually, it’s from Estella.’

Your ex-wife?’

How many other Estellas do I know? Apparently, she’s trekking in some National Park in Brazil at the moment.’

Been keeping in touch with her, have you?’ asked Barbara.

Estella stays in touch with a woman at the office and she told me,’ he said.

Riley understood her anxiety. The new younger wife needing to be sure he no longer had feelings for the mother of his children.

I expect she’s trying to walk off her feelings. That was the whole point of her taking a sabbatical after our divorce.’ Eager to change the subject he tore open the package. ‘It looks like a bulb or corm, it’s a plant, anyway. Hang on, there are instructions. We’re supposed to plant it in a pot of damp compost and leave it on a windowsill.’

Barbara grunted and went back to her tablet. Riley knew better than to expect her to do the watering. He planted the bulb, a shoot appeared within a few days and the tip immediately began to form a fat bud.

Two weeks later, he came into the kitchen and found that the bud had opened and produced a strange but beautiful red bloom. He’d seen nothing like it before, so he used the FlowerChecker app on his phone. Barbara came down a few minutes later, hair tousled from sleep and wearing the silk dressing gown he’d bought for her, looking lovely even without her makeup.

Where’s my tea, you said you’d bring me one up?’

Riley ignored her, he’d double bagged the plant and put it into their wood-burning stove. He was kneeling, adding paper and kindling from the basket at its side.

What are you doing?’ asked his wife.

He stood, picked up his phone and read from the screen. ‘I can’t pronounce the name but it says, ‘Proto-carnivorous plant. The flowers’ spores secrete an opiate-like psychoactive substance, which causes a rush of pleasure as they are inhaled. The spores lodge in the sinus cavities of the victim and develop filaments which infiltrate the brain and quickly kill it. They utilise the nutrients of decay in their growth cycle. Nasty, very nasty, Estella,’ he muttered.

That bitch, she tried to kill us,’ said Barbara.

Hell, hath no fury….’

Yes, but murder?’

Look, I’m not excusing her but she hasn’t got over our affair and the final break-up of the marriage. She can’t accept the relationship was on its wobbly last legs, and our affair was just the final push. Until she accepts that, she won’t be able to take the step from anger to acceptance.’

We’ve gone over this repeatedly. She just has to come to terms with it. You both changed as time passed, you weren’t the same people you were when you married twenty years ago.’

But we went through a lot together, thought Riley, and now she’s alone.

What are you going to do about it?’

Burn this bloody thing first,’ he said as he knelt and struck a match, ‘and then send her an email.’

***

Dear Estella,

Thanks for the bulb, it looks intriguing. Barbara and I are going on holiday for a month, so I gave it to your sister. It’ll be a nice little project for her and her kids. I’ll be interested to see what it grows into, something exotic I expect.

Thanks again, and I hope this means you’re moving on emotionally and getting over your feelings of bitterness towards Barbara and me. I hope that, in the interest of our sons, we can become friends eventually. Let’s move on like adults.

I’m sure you’ll find somebody to share your life with soon. After all, they say fifty is the new forty and you’re still closer to fifty than sixty.

Best regards,

Martin.

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