As Shaun entered his greenhouse, he forgot all about the nameless caller. The ‘greenhouse’, which was really just a sort of sunroom, was filled with lush green foliage, beautiful flowers, and even a few vegetables lurking here and there. Although the snow outside was as thick as ever, it was humid inside the greenhouse. Just the way his plants liked it.
He had to admit though, that the snow piling around the greenhouse, visible through the glass walls, was beautiful. He could see it just as clearly as if he were outside – but without the aching cold and unfortunate likeliness of getting wet. Still, Shaun’s eyes lingered on his garden – and the white snow covering it – for just a moment longer.
Then it was back to his plants. He wouldn’t go as far as to call them his children – and he certainly wasn’t the type of person to refer to a pet as his kids, either – but he had put a lot of love into growing each and every one. Every plant had its own schedule, its own needs and preferences. The only issue was when he decided to travel, and finding someone to take care of them while he was gone.
It occurred to him then, that he was still clad in his fluffy Christmas slippers and pyjamas. It wasn’t exactly gardening attire – but he was only watering them, right? So he continued on, not bothering with the idea of spilling soil or water on himself. He filled a bright red watering can from the tap – which was linked to the kitchen sink next door – and hefted it to the nearest table.
This was where the vegetables lived. It was amazing to him that he could grow them year round, even in the dead of winter like now. The table was lined with leafy greens, cucumbers and bright red tomatoes. The tomatoes especially looked delicious, firm and bright and fragrant. As he tipped the spout of the watering can to rain down fresh water, he wondered if he could use them in tonight’s Christmas dinner. If there was ever a time to use something special, it was today.
Next, Shaun moved onto his beloved plants. The ferns required a special feed in their water, and as Shaun took to preparing it he watched his garden. A robin hopped up to the bird feeder across the lawn – buried under snow, it had remained empty for a week or two. The robin bounced from one tiny foot to the next, then fluttered off across the garden. It disappeared into Shaun’s next door neighbour’s white laminated garden.
Smiling softly to himself, Shaun turned his attention back to the luscious ferns in front of him. They were perhaps his favourite – aside from the enormous cactus by the door – and he took extra care inspecting each individual leaf. He was satisfied to note that not a single one was so much as starting to brown.
Slowly Shaun made the rounds, taking his time despite the greenhouse being less than the size of his living room. The heat started out enjoyable enough, a reminder that he was inside even if he was surrounded by thick snow – but soon enough the pleasant glow started to cling to the back of his neck. So he finished up, leaving the empty watering can by the door, and slipped back into the main house.
Time for another coffee, perhaps? It wouldn’t cool him down, but the thought of the sweet, flavoured drink made him smile. It would bring him back into the Christmas mood, that was for sure. Off he went, preparing himself another salted caramel coffee – with just a drop of milk and an extra sugar.
After a while, his eyes turned back to his phone. It hadn’t budged, of course, but still, it caught his eye. As the coffee machine hummed in the background Shaun picked up his phone, unlocking it in one easy sweep of his thumb.
Another text, from the same unknown number as before. It simply asked are you home? with a smiley face – but that wasn’t enough to determine who had sent it. A wrong number, perhaps? He laughed at the thought, imagining someone waiting for a reply that would never come. Well, hopefully they would find who they were looking for.
Shaun abandoned his phone in favour of the steaming coffee, inhaling with a satisfied sigh. Delicious. It was too fresh to drink yet he tried anyway – only succeeding in scalding the roof of his mouth. With a wince and a yelp, he set it down in search of more milk.
Just as he was pouring refreshingly cold milk into his mug, a ringing caught his ears. Shaun paused, a frown appearing on his face, and listened. Silence, the only sound the sloshing of his milk jug – and then the same sharp ring. Again.
His doorbell? Who could have been visiting, unannounced, on Christmas day?