Writers (in order): Emily Hwang, Keiss Chan, Nefeli Saha, Xinyi Chi, Jaz Santos, N.J. Lopez, Drea, Nihlah Assegaf, RANadia, Alyssa Atienza, Najia S, Salem, Hallel Abrams Gerber, Christina Fernandes, A, a.g, A. Hamilton, Victoriano, J.S., Riley Johnson, Elizabeth N Marin, CL. Editor: Ms. Wilson.

Marilyn was many things, but she wasn’t a flake. So when Gerald had texted her last night, asking if she wanted to go downtown the next day and, in his words, “look at stuff and buy something maybe,” she said yes and did her darndest to get out of bed on a Saturday morning. It was Gerald, after all. He would pester Marilyn until she cracked and gave in—or finally went insane and set out on an epic quest for King Arthur’s sword.

She was leaning against a telephone pole and had begun to slowly lower her eyelids (her drowsy brain had mistakenly decided that a metal cylinder was a sufficient mattress) when a familiar voice called out.


His piercing voice tore her from slumber. “Ow,” she muttered, “your voice is too loud.”

“That’s not my fault, it’s genetics.”


Gerald unsurprisingly made a beeline for the succulent shop, where he was bound to spend over half his daily budget in one sitting. When Marilyn caught up to him, he was already gazing at one of the latest arrivals and held it up for her to see. She didn’t see anything in particular, nor did she care. It was green with leaves just like any other succulent. He had plenty of those at home.

“What do you think?”

“Gerald, you have twenty succulents already.”

“But not THIS succulent!”

Succulents were a source of indescribable joy for Gerald. A feverish zeal. They weren’t just any other potted plant—they were succulents. Autumn foliage, albeit pretty, would fall only weeks later from gusts of wind. Beautiful flowers had delicate petals—too delicate for the prying hands of overzealous children. But cacti, with their ability to withstand the hottest Sahara and the driest Atacama, enraged a similarly hardy passion.

This wasn’t the case until one sunny morning in February, when he and his family were planning on going on a vacation. Gerald had been no more than nine at that time. Everyone was getting seated for their ten-hour-long non-stop flight while little Gerald was making fruitless attempts at hiding his fear. He had never flown before. Unwanted tears rolled down his puffy cheeks as the plane announced its take-off. His mother must have noticed his dire state, as a seemingly kind flight attendant quickly made her way to their seats.

“How can I be of assistance, ma’am?”

“Could I get something for my little one? It’s his first time flying. Anything to distract him would be great,” she replied in a whisper, a feeble attempt at trying not to embarass her nine-year-old.

As if on cue, the flight attendant pulled out a surprisingly large and fluffy green cactus plushie out of her pocket. In just an instant, he snatched the plushie from her, making the woman let out a giggle. Gerald felt at ease holding the plushie tightly. That five-hour nap following the incident was as good as they came. He would now swear to anyone and everyone willing to lend their ears that that little cactus surely (always making an effort to emphasize ‘surely’ ) possessed magical powers, and that it was what had sparked an unparalleled passion for succulents in him from then on.

Despite the small chuckle that everyone lets out when hearing about his passion for succulents, Gerald would swear on his life—and whoever else’s life that he could think to swear upon—that the succulent had had magic cast upon it, for he would feel completely at ease whenever he clung onto it.

“No, you don’t understand,” he would say, shoving the succulent plushie in their face, “I swear on my life.” He would beg them to “Try it just this once” and once they did and felt no effect, Gerald would try to prove it worked by wrapping his arms around the plushie until he fell asleep, leaving his guest in an awkward spot.

Despite her general indifference towards Gerald’s obsession, even Marilyn had to admit the beauty of the small shop just off of main street where Gerald bought his plants. It was a small, squat building with large twin windows stained green, which, inside, gave the whole place an otherworldly appearance. Plants of all sizes, shapes, and colors lined the walls, winding together like a giant tapestry of greenery. The whole place smelled overwhelmingly like dirt and fertilizer, which gave her a slight headache.

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