Doctor Abbot, a master of crispr, specialist in plant polyamines, chlorophyll optimization, and lead chair of the East Coast North American Corp of Botanical Engineers, sat in the dark and waited.

There was a bowl of light bulbs on the end table beside him. In his lap was a brown accordion folder, stuffed with papers, cords, and detachable drives. On top of this was a flowerpot with a small pine sapling. It was this, the plant, that his hands held securely.

Breaking into Marla’s house hadn’t been particularly challenging. Bypassing her security system was slightly more-so, but it was just a normal home system. He’d managed to deactivate it before an alert went out. From the moment he entered he hadn’t turned on a light. It was too risky. He had no idea who was watching her.

First thing he’d done was go to the kitchen to check the fridge. He rummaged through it, looking for orange juice. There was none. He looked around the counters and found a bowl of fruit. Again, no oranges. Satisfied that she didn’t have any citrus in the house, he relaxed. This might work. He found a pen and marker and wrote her a note. 

“Marla, it’s Sean. Don’t be alarmed but I’m in your living room, waiting to see you. I would like to talk. Please leave the lights off.”

After half an hour of waiting in the dark, he decided that Marla wasn’t the type of person to respect his wishes with the lights upon discovering him in her home, so he got a bowl and went around the room, removing all the bulbs from the area he was sitting. Then he went back to the chair with his notes and plant on his lap. For hours, he sat, motionless.

He’d hoped she was coming home after work but it was well past eleven when she walked in the door.

He could see her, from his position, as she kicked off her shoes and slid the shawl off her shoulders. She was in a blue and white patterned dress and it looked like she’d come from some formal dinner or maybe a date. The idea of her dating didn’t bother him. It had been decades since they’d been a thing. Despite his being in her house, unannounced, and waiting in the dark, he was over her. Mostly.

She moved down the hall out of sight. The kitchen light clicked on. There were several beats of quiet where he envisioned her reading the note. As he expected, she stepped into the doorway, a silhouette against the brightness of the other room, and hit the light switch to expose him.

“Sorry, Marla. I took out the bulbs. They’re okay though. I’ll put them back for you, when we’re done talking.”

Back-lit as she was, he couldn’t see her expression. “What are you doing in my house?”


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