The lemon basil sagged on the granite counter in his absence. It was proud strain of the herb. It had been acquired at the affordable price of nothing at the Home Depot by means of hiding it on the under carriage rack, and pushing it out the door.
The check out girl did not see, or did not care. She had already overcharged him for the ceiling electrical socket covering, and the Corinthian Greek molding, which the contractor had advised against because of its classical “cheesiness”.
The basil had been remarkably resilient since it was introduced to its new home in the pull open kitchen window. It had accentuated several tomato salads, thin crust pizzas, and even a large batch of pesto, always growing back fuller, bigger, tastier.
But on this day, after its owner had been a coast away for six days, the basil was slumping. Perhaps it was the lack of cross breeze. The window was usually kept open and without that luxury, the house became sauna hot in the California summer.
Or maybe it was the absence of early morning classical music. The smooth, commercial free, anti-static sounds of sub FM radio playing the easy, ethereal tones of Mendelssohn and Mozart. It had become a dependable part of its vegetative routine as evidence by the sono-tropic lean toward the corner speaker.
It has also gotten used to the de-clorinated majesty of Brita filtered water. Had the neighbor used tap? Did he not read two hours of Walt Whitman to it a day, like I’d asked? Or touched its leaves with love in his heart? Was there asexual abuse?
I did not know. Whatever the reason, my basil was limp upon entry. Its droop was like a banner reading: don’t leave me alone for so long next time, ass-cheese. At least put a little of us in a sandwich for the airplane, but only eat half, so what’s left of us can see New York.