Author: Rachel Medina

I admit I am not the most skilled gardener, but these flowers say the cruelest things. Not that I don’t deserve it. I know that I do. But, if these flowers die, that’s it. I’m dead, too.

It wasn’t easy to get this gig. You have to remember where you put the bodies. This is important because if there’s no body, there’s no soul. It doesn’t even have to be the entire body. I had a finger that worked, so you can get lucky. The scientists incinerate the flesh pieces and then mix the ashes into the pods with wood chips and other compost stuff. After that, it gets tricky.

You only have 24 hours to get the pods buried with the orchid flower roots. I prepped each container with the special soil and set the hothouse temperature just right. The scientists stressed that the pod had to go in with the root right away or it might not work. I paced at the door all day waiting for the shipment to arrive. The guard watched me, nervous. He thought I was going to escape! Why would I go through all this just to run? I snatched the pods from the delivery guy as soon as he got to the door and then I raced to the hothouse.

The scientist labeled each pod with the name and picture of who was inside. I thought that was a nice touch even though I remembered them all. Why wouldn’t I? I spoke to them while I worked, burying each one back in the dirt. I welcomed my lovelies and thanked them for this chance to make things right.

The directions showed that you have to rotate the pod in the soil every 12 hours. I set an alarm to remind me. I slept in the hothouse every night that first month even though my sleeping bag got wet and the ground was uncomfortable. This was the only way. I had to be diligent or I was a dead man.

I whooped and hollered so loud at the sight of the first tiny leaf breaking through the dirt that the guard raced in with his gun drawn! He didn’t smile when I showed him, just shook his head and left. He pretty much hates me.

The scientist warned that even in the hothouse orchids are delicate and difficult to grow. I think that’s why the government chose them. They didn’t want to make it easy for a guy like me. Once the leaves open, the flowers should soon appear. That is the critical moment. If the flower doesn’t have red streaks on its petals, that means that the process didn’t work. The soul won’t inhabit the orchid. I’m out, back to Death Row.

Luckily, each of my flowers bloomed with red streaks. One flower sprouted thorns after I spoke to it the first time. I guess I understand that. Another one has flower petals so pale that they look invisible, except for the jagged red streaks. I don’t know what happened to that one. The petals bloomed pink and beautiful, but as soon as I whispered to it the color drained out. Some of the flowers turn away from me no matter what I do. The biggest ones are also the loudest. I can’t get a word in sometimes! They scream and shout horrible things at me, which is weird because they look so pretty.