100 Themes 022 - Mother Nature

I make no bones about this; Mother Nature, or Mrs Henson, owes a lot to Stephen King for her existence. I recently finished watching The Stand again, something I encountered in my early teens as a four-part serial, then read. Mother Abagail (I believe that's how it's spelt) is a wonderful voice in my head, a deep South bible bashin' ol' black woman, she won't take no nonsense but if you think you gon' put one over her you got another thing comin'. And so on.

I hope she comes across. There's a certain amount of Day of the Triffids in there too.

Oh, and while I think about it; this represents the start of something. Wonder if you can spot it :D


“They call me Mother Nature,” she said, then snorted. “Poison Ivy, I reckon, if they want a monicker”

I shrugged. “I’m just here to find out how you do it, Mrs Henson.” I put my Dictaphone down on the table with a click, pressed the button and let it whirr into the silence. Then I cleared his throat. “When did it start?”

“You’re gon’ have to be more specific than that, I fear,” she ground out. The cigarette trembled slightly in her lined hands, bright white against her dark skin. She took a drag, wheezed the smoke out into the room and coughed. Phlegm rattled in her throat. Another drag.

“You jus’ gon’ watch me smoke? Ask your questions and leave me to my garden, ‘fore I call my sons.”

“The plants in your garden, Mrs Henson, they grow to amazing proportions. Now, my editor thinks this is news, so I’m here to find out how you do it.” I waved his arms through the smoke. “Do you, I dunno, sing to them? Do you have special fertiliser?”

Mrs Henson leaned forward conspiratorially. Something creaked, her back or the chair; both, I decided. I leaned forward to hear her secret.

“Twice a day, I eats a big bowl of prunes. Then I goes out into the garden,” and her voice dropped lower. I leaned forward again, thrusting my face into the cloud of smoke and faint smell of gin that surrounded her. “And I hitches up my skirts, and I shits all over the roots.”

She sat back, looking satisfied. I raised an eyebrow. She could not be serious.

“Really?” I asked.

She shook her head, closing her eyes, and began to make a strange rusty noise. She was laughing, I realised. I took a certain satisfaction in seeing it turn to coughing before long.

“’course not,” she said once her breathing was under control. “No way I can ‘splain how I do what I do. The plants in my garden, they grow that way because God tells ‘em to. Nothin’ to do with me.” She was religious; I felt the germ of a story take root in my mind, the first cell of a cancerous by-line. I needed to press this home.

“Mrs Henson, some of your plants have uprooted themselves. They’ve been spotted in gardens as far away as Torring.”

“God wants ‘em to spread their seeds wide and far, I reckon.” The light was shining in the grimy window, somehow picking out her hair. Almost a halo-like effect, I thought, and instantly wished I had my camera handy. Not that the location was particularly salubrious; overflowing ashtray, coffee rings on the little table and, let’s face it, the cover on her armchair was foul. The bottle of gin, no glass, was just the cherry on the top.

“One of your marrows, it attacked someone. Beat them.”

She frowned. Oops. “The marrow plants are only a metre tall. Was it a dwarf it beat? A child?”

I shook my head, and she smiled again. “Reckon bruised legs ain’t too bad a punishment.”


The smile went wider, almost feral. Her teeth had so many gold fillings, it was like she’d been French-kissing King Midas. “Was it… a vegetarian?”

I sighed. “Yes,” I muttered.

“If it was somethin’ tryin’ to eat you, you’d attack it, wouldn’t you? Course you would. ‘s only natural.”

She farted then, completely straight-faced. The message was clear: I wasn’t welcome, wasn’t even making a difference to her day. I might as well not be there. I had enough, anyway.

“Well, thank you, Mrs Henson. I’ll be in touch.” I got up, unsure as to whether she’d show me out. She sat, and the smell started to reach me.

Her eyes, black and sparkling, followed me all the way to the door.