Chuck Wendig of Terribleminds posted a new flash fiction challenge: go see 50 Completely Unexplainable Stock Photos No One Will Ever Use, pick one, and write a story of no more than 1000 words using that picture as an inspiration.
So, I clicked on the link, and went through the photos. It was mostly like no, boring, wtf?, no, no, no, yuck, no, not interested… Not in that particular order. And there was this one picture, you see it on the left, and I was Yes! That one! I know exactly the story, write it, write it! Know the feeling? I dutifully looked at the rest of them, but the twelfth picture remained my choice.
Without further ado, here it is.
“Hello, Mr. Cactus.”
“Is it all right if I call you Mr. Cactus? I’ve never spoken to a cactus before, and I wouldn’t want to be im-po-lite. Did I say it properly? Granny taught me that word. She says it means ‘rude’. Why can’t I say ‘rude’ then? She says I’m a very rude little boy.”
“Granny is always angry with me. I want to be a good little boy, I really do, even if I’m not that little anymore, but I never make it. Granny says that I’m a bad little boy and that she has to punish me.”
“Hello again, Mr. Cactus. I can’t speak much now. It hurts.”
“Hello, Mr. Cactus. I’m better now, so I can speak again. I don’t know what to say, though.”
“I wish I was with Mom and Dad. Granny says they’re in a better place now. I wish I was in a better place. Granny says I’m a bad, bad little boy for wishing that. It’s disrespectful to God, she says. I should be very very grateful to God for sparing me and not sending me to Hell, because that’s where all the bad little boys go. This way, at least I have the chance to become good and not go to Hell, if I pray all the time and do as Granny says. I pray to God Granny wouldn’t hurt me so much, but she still does it. Do you think it’s a bad thing to pray for, Mr. Cactus?”
“Granny says it’s my fault she hurts me. She says, if I was a good little boy, she would never hurt me. She’s a God-fearing woman and doesn’t hurt good little children, which means I’m really, really bad. Did I say God-fearing right? Granny says I never speak properly, but how can I when she keeps hitting me?”
“I… Are you still there, Mr. Cactus? I can’t see you well. I can’t see anything well. May I touch you?”
“You are a cactus, Mr. Cactus, if I may say that. How come you didn’t prick my finger when I touched you? I wouldn’t mind, really. It would mean you were still there, and that’s all I wanted to know. I’m grateful you let me touch you and didn’t prick my finger, I really am, I just don’t understand. I wish I could understand you, Mr. Cactus. You’re my only friend.”
“I’m so happy I can see you again, Mr. Cactus! May I hug you?”
“How come you didn’t prick my face when I hugged you, Mr. Cactus? Are you a special cactus?”
“Granny says I have to sleep here, because I’m a bad little boy. I’m not so little! Although, if it means I may sleep in your room, I don’t mind.”
“Good morning, Mr. Cactus. Did you move?”
“Hello, Mr. Cactus. I… Granny says I have to go. I’m a bad little boy and I can’t stay with her anymore. Do you know where she’s sending me? She says they will finally teach me discipline and put the fear of God into me. I don’t know what it means. Do you? Will I see you there? Will I… Will I ever see you again?”
“Mr. Cactus, it’s Granny. I know it’s a stupid thing to say, you know it’s Granny, but… It’s Granny.”
“Mr. Cactus? You’re the best! You really are! I don’t have to go now, do I? I can stay with you forever!”
“Um, Mr. Cactus? How do I move Granny? I know I should, she smells really bad, but how do I do it?”
“Oh. It’s easier now. Thank you, Mr. Cactus.”