The Cactus Story

Over the past six months, many people have asked me about this very weird connection I have with cacti.
They’re a symbol of peace, if you ask me.
Instead of saying the same thing over and over again, I’ve decided to put it out— like this.

My school has its classes across two buildings. One building is theirs, in the other, they’ve got a few floors under them.

The topmost floor is a part of our school, and it’s almost isolated from the rest of the school, in a good way.
I love that floor.
It’s also where we have computer class.
The floor’s got two classes connected with a balcony. It’s awesome.

This balcony, high up in the sky, on the 11th floor, is not just for our use during computer.
It’s also where a lot of events are hosted. (Probably because it’s the best hangout spot in school.)

This one time we had a school Open mic, and it was on the terrace. It was the last one before 11th grade got over, so it was kind of special.

My friend was taking part, so I decided to tag along.
(Personally, I was still too afraid to take the stage myself, though I’d wanted to try my hand at poetry.
I’ve been up on a stage before, but being up there to share your feelings with 40 blimming people is something new and made me feel very vulnerable, so I’m still telling myself, next time. I’ll wing it, but I’ll push myself to try. At least to try.)

So I went along, only because my friend was taking part.

She was nervous too, and I was trying to tell her it was going to be okay.
She was doing a standup routine. And she was worried, what if no one laughs when they’re supposed to?

I told her I will, and I’d do it so fucking hard, that the rest of the audience daren’t not join me.

She still looked nervous.

I told her then, that if anything screwed up, I’d open up a chasm below her feet and have it engulf her. She’d never see embarrassment, not on this day!

At least she laughed at that.


Now the mic was held after school. So my pal and I headed out early. [Such distance we had to cover; we needed to cross a threshold and enter the other building, then take the elevator to the 11th floor. Oh, well.]

Her nerves were rubbing off on me too. I found myself pacing around restlessly waiting for her as she talked to some other people on our way. So I told her I’d go on ahead and bag us good seats for the show and wished her luck.

Just my luck, I was the first person to arrive there. The terrace was quiet.

The chairs were set up for a small audience, with empty space: the “stage”, which only looked like one because the colouring of the floor was a bit off there. It’s not exactly in level either, (it was covered with plywood sheets) so it’s an obvious choice for a stage.


This was during the month of February. Believe you me, here, it gets hot in February. I was standing 11 storeys high and sweating.

There was a pull string fan on the wall.

I went over to the fan, next to the “stage”, and pulled the plug.

The fan was only on its lowest speed, and a hot and fidgety me pulled on the plug twice in rapid succession. Fidget spinners weren’t big back then. (I don’t dig those anyway.)

I expected the fan to switch off then, but the strangest thing happened.

Gravity began to come into play.

The stage fell through. It was a secret trapdoor, which had been covered up with plywood.

A passage led through the trapdoor.

Of course, all the fidgeting went out of me. I also realised that I could make my suggestion to my buddy happen.
Of course, though, my friend would rather I didn’t!

I peered down the passage. It led to the eighth floor.

Since our school is in a commercial building, I wasn’t peering down anyone’s house.
(How shocked they’d have been to learn that a trapdoor leads down through their roof!)

On the eighth floor is a horticulture company’s office.

I decided to interfere no more with secrets and legends of old; I pulled the fan plug again. Twice in succession.

The trapdoor closed.

I turned up the fan speed and sat down with an amazed sigh.

Two minutes later, civilisation reemerged, and it felt like the familiar eleventh floor balcony once again.

The kids organising came up, and my friend soon after.
She was to go first. I looked at her in amusement and gave her a thumbs up.
I think she’ll manage without my help, I tell her.

They’d got guest performers from
another school that day, because it was the last of the monthly Mics we’d had, for the year.

A few teachers are up there too.

The performances begin.

My friend opens with her standup routine, and she does fine.
I find her jokes funny, some are concerning me, her puns had the desired effect (that they usually don’t have on me in class,) the audience laughs, and she does fine. No help needed.

The performances go on. A kid has come late. He wants to sign up. The performers were supposed to be here before time. Maybe they’ll accommodate the kid. Maybe they won’t. It’d be sad for him, since he’d obviously have had prepared something, but shucks, I’m not a big fan anyway. Maybe we’d all do better without it.

The guest performers were to go last. But I think the new arrival may end up messing that order up.
Sitting in the audience, they haven’t had a chance to be informed.
The organisers too are kids our age, spare them! They say, screw it, let things take their course.

Some performances are good, some are extravagant, some I’m applauding on because I feel bad for them. I may come back too, you know. I don’t want to begin with boo’s or snoozes.

The guest performers get up in turn, as their hosts introduce them to the audience; the late guy will have to wait.
If anyone else is going to stick around to watch him yap on.

The guest performers are honoured, our authority, pleased, and the guest stars have some interesting stuff to share.

All in all, it’s been a neat wrap, and everyone’s happy.
Oh, almost everyone.

I forget, there’s still that little ink blot.
There now, he’s getting up.
The principal has gotten up and is shaking the guest performers’ hands, congratulating them.
Unofficially, this means we’re through.
Now I can understand you’d feel horrible if someone skipped you altogether. But it would look more embarrassing if this knowledge were made public.
So the organisers say nothing, but look a bit nervous.
But pins are made for a purpose: pricking.

Well, I’ve been enjoying the show so far, and my friend’s got a smile on too, so it just wouldn’t do to ruin the mood here.
Why would you want to screw up the very last event of the year!?

But Mr. Hotshot walks through the pandemonium.

That’s it, I’ve had it.

I decide to use my newfound weapon.

Right behind the guests and the principal, Hotshot walks across the stage.
Of course no one notices him.
There are first time performers revelling in a job well done (managed?), there are guitars and airs and praise.

That’s when I make my move.
Click, click!

Slip, slide, silence.
And no one’s seen a thing.
A clean act!
I think even today, I’m particularly fond of pull-plugs.

(The organisers ought to thank me, by the way.)


On a completely unrelated note, that building our school is in is practically a melting pot.
I did mention once that there are horticulturists there.
I’ve heard of a new trend that’s been doing rounds: apparently, it’s now fashionable to be doing things that are off-season.
In the winter of the city, these guys were growing cacti in their office. Bulk.
I ought to go shopping.



About twenty minutes later, we’re all walking down, asking the organisers when the event will return next year.

And then there are noises.
Weird stuff.
I glance up, oh, we’re passing the eighth floor.
I shrug and say, whatever, I don’t want to find out.
My friend is concerned.
Maybe someone’s dog is hurt?
I tell her I’ll meet her down.
I’ll clear a path for her and the paramedics.

I met her about ten minutes after she discovered an “accident”.

She informed me that our guy is in the hospital, will be for a few months, and will never be able to reproduce again.

I visited him a few months ago, and gifted him a cactus as a little memento.

3 thoughts on “The Cactus Story”

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