Jasmine Man

The jasmine vine grew up his left leg, wrapped around his middle to meet itself in the small of his back, to braid again its own arms, stem tentacles, reaching, reaching, turning around again, twisting tight against his belly. In spring he attracted the ladies with his fragrant pink buds, which lined his arms and wrapped about his head like a cap, obscuring his saucer-like ears and balding head. The women buried their noses in his white petals, soft as cloud, and some, intoxicated, kissed his leafy lips.

By June the vine, with its girth of leaves, like a roll of fat carried grandly over his belt, gave him a mature look. The roots thickened around his feet, encased his toes, like an octopus boot, brown, tree-trunk-like, and their endings hidden, secreting themselves into the sole of his foot, crawling up his veins and arteries, searching, as if in the earth, for purchase, for water, for minerals, avoiding his bones, as if they were tubes of the sprinkler system, reaching, reaching, returning round and round.

By July the girth had grown wide, giving him an obese look, a man of wide tee shirts, baggy pants, disappearing neck, and a waddle walk, as if he were carrying a baby. He had bad numbers on the glucose test, high blood pressure, and was going blind from the jasmine wrap, tenacious around his head, sticking its stem tentacles, like glue, to his eyelids to hold on.

In fall the ladies turned away, toward the younger, fresher ones, the ones who had not yet wrapped in upon themselves. By then his root feet had turned heavy and black, tough and dried-out by the obese summer sun, and dried leaves thinned the wrap around his upper legs so that he was all-belly and in danger of falling over.

About the author:

Jeanne Althouse lives in Palo Alto, California and writes short-short stories and prose poems. Her work has been published in Opium, Canary, and The MacGuffin, among others. She has won the Lunch Hour Stories short story contest.