A short story for your perusal, conceived last week as part of my new drive to write more fiction. Enjoy.
Stoic, the cactus sits on the windowsill. Its life is a paradox: bought as a house plant for someone who isn’t good with plants, its main redeeming feature is its lack of neediness. For weeks it can go without water, unperturbed, while its brothers and sisters wilt and curl, crying out for the attention they were promised so naively when brought in to ornament the new home.
The cactus is spiny and cynical; it never had any illusions as to how its life would be. It came into the deal eyes wide open. For centuries, its kind have suffered the same fate, destined to provide the bare minimum of greenery in a landscape otherwise devoid and uncaring. Yet they do not complain. The cactus does not need to be noticed. It is content in knowing that it does its job well.
Nevertheless, there are times when the cactus yearns for companionship. On sunny days, when its neighbours excitedly tilt their leaves and heads to the window, displaying themselves to the world, the cactus sighs wearily, knowing only too well that their joy will pass. “How can they not see this?” it asks itself. “I am surrounded by idiots, slaves to the teasing of the ultra-violet rays.”
But there is one, the cactus knows, who understands his plight. Sometimes, when the reflections in the windows are just right, he can see across the courtyard a kindred spirit. She is beautiful and wild, her leaves green tongues sprouting every which way, her spines small and delicate. Like the cactus, she is uncaring for the whims of the sun god, and like him she complains not if her soil is left to dry. And he knows that she sees him too.
Like the cactus, the aloe vera will still be standing long after the other house plants have gone, their flirtatious beauty swept away like pollen on the breeze. Then, the courtyard shall be theirs and theirs alone, and they shall have peace from the preening peace lilies and their careless owners. Unspeaking, they shall gaze at each other across the space between the houses, satisfied with a job well done.
There is comfort in this.