I wasn't talking to my parents the day I bought the cacti. They had upset me by being
unintentionally callous and I had decided to ignore them. Unfortunately my feelings had been hurt on a day out, so there was no escape from their company. The first chance I got, I separated myself from them to wander on my own.
I strolled into a Homebase hardware store and looked around the aisles full of random crap I didn't need, dreaming up big ideas of what I'd do after college and perhaps at university. But most importantly, what I'd do when I was living away from them.
I only had loose change in my pocket, since my outfit had but one functioning pocket. (and I certainly wasn't going to stuff an oversized wallet into shirt pocket now, was I?)
Picking up random objects and putting them down again I stopped at a tray of miniature cacti. I've always had a thing about miniature objects. (I coo and aww at the travel sized bottles of shampoo and mouthwash in Boots pharmacy.) You could pin it on some years spent growing up in Dorset, where the biggest attraction was a model village and further link it to my last boyfriend's penis size.
I counted my change and found I had just enough to buy the three clusters of cacti. Smiling to myself, I pictured putting them in a beautifully coloured plant pot in my dream apartment. A perfect gift to my future self.
I returned home and looked in the garden for a spare pot.
I filled it with soil and carefully introduced my cacti into their new home.
They were the gateway I suppose into my planning a brighter future. Images of wallpaper, rugs and cheap charity shop furniture filled my head as I thought of my future in European Studies or Art or Languages or anything. I could study anything I liked.
I named the cacti, because I name everything.
Kids, The Fuzz and Twin Towers.
I drew eyes and mouths onto them with ballpoint pen so they could be my friends. I even trimmed The Fuzz's white fluff into a haircut and I removed dead thorns.
They were loved.
And then a couple of months later, they started to get dark green patches and spots. The Fuzz expanded, while the other two cacti clusters shrunk. They were all very unhappy.
Then the mould came.
I tried fresh soil, I tried a different room. Less/more sunlight, moister/drier air, warmer/colder temperature. But nothing worked.
I couldn't save them.
Pretty soon after that, they became mere gloopy shells of their former selves. The smiling faces that I had lovingly drawn on morphed into scowls and stretched eerily into what looked like screaming faces. Those faces mocked me as they sunk lower and lower into the decaying corpses of my cacti friends. It was heartbreaking to walk into my room and be met with inanimate and glaring eyes staring back at me.
And then, they became mounds of mould before disappearing into the soil and turning into a revolting soupy substance. My friends were dead and buried.
So now, as I peruse various flats, rooms, and apartments looking for a new place to live for however long I choose, I think back to my cacti and how they will never see my new bedsheets for my new place, or how they will never hear the buzz of London traffic whizzing by. But, I will honour them and any new cacti I buy will take pride of place in my household.
They will know the story of Kids, The Fuzz and Twin Towers.
Also, I don't think drawing on plants is too healthy for them...
Happy Friday the 13th everyone!
p.s sorry the image didn't appear for the New Year's Day post, I will rescan that tomorrow!