The Cactus Epistles

by Abby Bales

Letters from a Cactus concerning Life, Love, and the object of speculation, Girl.

 

Dear Desk,

Today was big. I figured out the purpose of life.

SUNGLASSES.

I should explain. Now, you’re probably wondering how I’m writing this…  I have no answer. I am merely a cactus and don’t have arms.

So how do I write?

I think I just have a really good imagination. It must be the sunglasses. They changed everything.

When Girl put them on me yesterday a thrill ran through me. Everything shimmered. It was like ZAP and KAPOW and then I realized that I was more than a potted plant. I was me, and I could know stuff.

Also, I figured out what love is. It’s Girl.

 

Dear Desk,

I didn’t know happiness until today. Girl moved my pot. Now I’m by a window. The sunshine feels like…when Girl smiles. Like everything is happy.

The only problem? My sunglasses aren’t facing the window. They’re facing you, Desk.

Which means there’s a whole beautiful world out there, and I can’t see it.

 

Dear Desk,

This afternoon Girl brought somebody into her room. I don’t know why she did. I mean, I don’t let other people into my pot, now do I?

Girl called the person Antonio. The odd thing is, Antonio didn’t seem to know Girl’s name. Instead of Girl he said Bella. Isn’t that weird?

Girl was writing stuff down in a notebook, and Antonio was too. They talked about something called English Lit.

But after a long time of writing and doing nothing, Antonio looked up and saw me.

If I had a mouth I would’ve smiled, and if I had arms I would’ve waved—but I don’t. I just have sunglasses. So I looked really chill.

Antonio laughed and said, “What is that cactus doing with sunglasses?”

And Girl said, “That’s Spike Fitzgerald. I thought he was cute.”

Desk, I did a double take. On the inside. Because all this time, I never knew that I had a name.

It’s the strangest thing. I thought I was just me, the guy in the pot with the sunglasses, but it turns out I’m so much more. I’m Spike Fitzgerald!

 

Dear Desk,

I know I write you very infrequently, and I apologize. But what can I say…I’m a cactus.

Anyway, Girl seems different today.

At first I thought maybe she’d gotten a haircut, or changed her lipstick color. But that wasn’t it. She looked the same. Only her face was crumply, and her eyebrows were pointing down, and water squirted out of her eyes every few seconds.

She sat on her desk chair and covered her head with her hands for a few minutes. Then she looked over at me.

“Antonio is over,” she told me.

I was wondering what that meant. But Girl didn’t seem to care that I didn’t understand. She kept talking to me.

“I didn’t think he could break my heart, Spike. He was the opposite of you. He was smooth on the outside and spiky on the inside.”

If I hadn’t been a potted plant, I would’ve hugged her.

 

Dear Desk,

Girl put me in a new pot today. She used gloves because she doesn’t want to feel my spikes.

Maybe she should’ve used gloves with Antonio.

Anyway, after I said a sad farewell to my old pot, Girl lifted me from the desk. Oh, the exhilaration I felt, after so long (three hundred four days, to be precise) of sitting still.

And then a great adventure happened.

Girl took me outside. Yes, outside! She carried me through a door and I suddenly realized the use of sunglasses.

It was glorious!

The adventure ended though, when Girl put me into a car. I sat on the dashboard and hoped against hope that this wouldn’t be the end of me.

Needless to say, it wasn’t.

After a drive, she took me into a different, smaller house. There wasn’t a desk. She set me on the windowsill instead.

This time she pointed me sideways, so I could see outside with half my sunglasses and the other half could see Girl and the room.

Now, Desk, I am afraid I’ll have to stop writing to you, since I have no easy way to contact you anymore. Farewell.

 

Dear Windowsill,

Girl is gone a lot now. She’s always doing something called “college”. It seems to be very tiring and I don’t know why she does it. At night she flops on the bed and snores a lot. She didn’t used to snore.

Now Girl brings another strange person to her room sometimes. She calls him Brad. He seems nicer than Antonio. They eat ice cream and lay on the floor watching movies.

Brad also gets Girl’s name wrong. He calls her Bella too.

Odd.

 

Dear Windowsill,

Well, it turns out Antonio and Brad weren’t getting Girl’s name wrong—I was.

Her name is actually Bella.

Huh.

Anyway, Bella and Brad have been spending an awful lot of time together. In fact they’re getting hitched.

Bella doesn’t really notice me anymore. I’m just…here.

The guy on the windowsill with the sunglasses.

 

Dear Floor,

Bella put me in another pot today. I’m getting rather large. I’m too big to sit on the windowsill anymore so she put me in the corner of her room. She shares a room with Brad now. They got hitched last week.

I feel old, Floor.

 

Dear Floor,

Today Bella brought a tree inside the house. I thought I was the only houseplant.

And even worse—they dressed it up. They put twinkly lights on it and even a star on top.

After it was all snazzied up, Bella and Brad took a picture in front of it.

“Let’s call it Mr. Green,” Bella said.

Mr. Green. What a stupid name.

They left me alone with the stinking thing. The twinkly lights shone dimly into the bedroom, onto me, the lowly cactus in the corner.

At least I have sunglasses.

Ha.

 

Dear Floor,

I am happy to report that today Bella took all the decorations off Mr. Green and hauled him out the door…TO BE BURNED.

If I had a mouth, I would’ve smiled to see him go.

 

Dear Floor,

Bella is getting fat. I’m sorry to say it but it’s true. Her stomach gets rounder by the day. Too bad Bella doesn’t have a pot, or it would be an easy fix.

There seems to be a lot of excitement here lately. Everyone’s folding tiny outfits and talking about somebody named Wesley. I wonder who he is.

 

Dear Floor,

Brad is growing on me. The way he takes care of Bella is nice. If I were a person I’d want to be like him.

Anyway last night they were chilling in here and I was struck by the quietness of the moment.

I watched Bella, her eyes the color of nighttime, sparkling, looking at Brad. I watched her watching him.

She was smiling. She doesn’t wear makeup anymore. I think she looks better now.

And Brad was smiling back. Brad’s smile said, you’re beautiful.

Bella’s smile said, I love you.

Floor, I made a discovery last night. These people have something I never will.

They have each other.

 

Dear Floor,

I’ve been forgotten.

Bella went away for a while and when she came back she had a bundle of blankets with her. It wiggled and cried. Everyone loves the bundle a whole lot. They kiss it and some of them even cry when they hold it.

I wonder what could be inside.

Bella never looks at me anymore.

 

Dear somebody,

It’s final. Bella’s given me up.

Today someone named Mom was visiting. Mom was crying.

“I miss him too, Mom,” Bella said, and she hugged Mom.

“He was the best of me,” Mom said. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I’m all alone now.”

“Oh Mama, you’re not alone,” Bella said. “I’m here.”

It wasn’t long after that when Bella looked at me. And really noticed me.

“Spike Fitzgerald,” she said, a smile fluttering around her face but not settling. “You’ve grown.”

I have, in fact, grown four inches just this year.

“You’ve been a good friend to me,” Bella said.

If I had a heart it would have swelled with joy.

“Oh Spike,” Bella said, “Mom needs you now more than I do.”

She carried me through her house. Mom was sitting at a table.

“What’s that?” Mom asked.

“This is Spike. I want you to take him,” Bella said. “Please.”

I won’t ever forget the last I saw of Bella.

She was standing on the porch of her house, holding the bundle of blankets, her hair blowing into her face. One of her hands was raised up over her head, like she was saying,

Goodbye.

And though she’s grown, I’ll always remember the Girl who gave me the sunglasses and let me peek inside the most perfect moments of her life. You know, not many people get to see those tiny moments that I did. Maybe they’re not much…or maybe they’re everything.

But what do I know?

I’m merely a potted plant.

My days of letter writing are done now, I think.

Yours Truly,

Spike Fitzgerald

Abby Bales - writer
Abby Bales

Abby Bales is a young writer and blogger from small town Indiana. She has a serious affinity for coffee, tasteful music, and rainy days - and a small obsession with cacti. She lives with her family of eight where things are never dull. To read her insights and discover more of her work, visit her site, LadyBluebird.me.

Abby Bales

Abby Bales is a young writer and blogger from small town Indiana. She has a serious affinity for coffee, tasteful music, and rainy days - and a small obsession with cacti. She lives with her family of eight where things are never dull. To read her insights and discover more of her work, visit her site, LadyBluebird.me.

15 Comments

  1. J Bea

    Loved your story, Abby! Everybody needs a Spike Fitzgerald. 🙂

    • Abby

      Thanks, JBea! Ah, I agree… hence my three cacti in my windowsill. :)

  2. Annabelle

    Abby, this is a beautiful story! It’s so well written! I love it!

    • Abby

      Thanks, Annabelle! ❤

  3. Steve Hollis

    Oh Abby… such good words and story. Thank you for the journey in the life of Bella and Spike.

    • Abby

      Thanks, Steve! I appreciate it!

  4. Celeste ashley

    Delightful tale, Abby! Good job!

    • Abby

      Thanks so much, Celeste!

  5. Christina Diggles

    Awwe, I would give Spike a hug if he wasn’t a cactus. 🥰

    It was so delightful and heartwarming and sad all at once.

    • Abby

      Aww, yay! I’m sure he would hug you back if he wasn’t a cactus. ;)

  6. Jessica

    Aw, this is the sweetest story!! I never thought I’d be able to say that about a story with a cactus as the main character, but it is!

    • Abby

      Aw, thanks, Jessica! That means a lot!

  7. Corrie.S.P.

    The simplicity of the story and the humor and deeper meanings are wonderfully done!
    I love it!
    (Maybe she should have used gloves with antonio😂)

    • Abby

      Thanks, Corrie! I appreciate that!

  8. Katelyn Flatt

    Why is a story written from the perspective of a cactus the most heartwarming writing I’ve read all week? This was fantastic. I started reading this just before work, telling myself I’d finish it after. And yet, this story was so captivating that I kept opening it up to read a few lines in spare moments AT work!
    You’ve got incredible skill, Abby. Thank you so much for writing this.

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