The cacti are letting go. Nobody is quite sure why, or if there’s anything we can do about it. The news websites say it’s the whole cactus family. Their root systems are disintegrating. Without their roots, the plants just flop over.
Reading about the strange phenomenon makes me crave familiar surroundings. I miss New Jersey. I wonder if my roots have disintegrated, too, or if I could still go back.
The cacti are native plants here in Los Angeles. They’re used in the natural landscaping around my apartment building, and I prefer it to the green lawns that require constant watering. The cacti are all coming loose, though, and blowing around.
The traffic lady on the radio warns drivers to be careful. Some of the cacti have spines strong enough to puncture a tire.
I’m strong, too, I tell myself. I am strong enough to stay here, in this town where I still don’t feel at home. I’m strong enough to make it on my own.
The cacti are floating off now. It’s like gravity no longer works on them. Flights across the Southwest have been grounded. The cacti are leaving our atmosphere, but until they’re all gone, we have to wait. It’s not safe to fly.
Scientists have no answers, just theories. I have a theory of my own: The cacti are going home. Maybe they never belonged here at all.
When the little succulent on my windowsill leaves its pot and bumps against the glass, I open the window and let it go. I’ve started to pack up the car.
Lisa Beebe lives in Los Angeles, where she sometimes talks to the ocean. Her stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Spectacle, Indiana Review, and Switchback, among others. Her story “Wolving” was published in the Spring 2014 issue of Psychopomp Magazine. Find her online at lisabeebe.com.
“The Cacti” was originally published as part of Seed-Balls.com’s Earth Day Flash Fiction Contest in 2014.