They all said I was dumb for leaving. Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery. Sometimes you to need throw caution to the wind and fly away. I wanted to see something different. All my life I had been living to please others, waiting for someone to tell me it was my turn to do what I wanted. That time never came. For years, I did what others thought I should. Finally, it just got to be too much and now here I am waiting to board a flight. All I hear is the button on my coat clicking against the beads of my purse, as I wait in the airport for the lady over the speaker to call my flight. I carry my purse and a small planted cactus my great grandmother gave me. It is small and round with soft spines, not sharp enough to stab. With little pink flowers on the top in a tiny bunch.

When I was 18, my Nana was diagnosed with leukemia. She knew she was going to die, as she was in her 90s. So, she took me aside and asked me to pick one of her dolls to remember her by. She also gave me the cactus. Nana said she got it when she was younger; my great grandfather had given it to her on their first date. She wanted me to have it; she had worked hard to keep it alive, holding on to my Great Grampy after he passed. She told me that she loved me. We talked some more, and I went home to bed. The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from my great aunt, telling me she had died in her sleep.

After waiting for two hours, I hear the lady announcing my flight as ready for boarding. I hope my ears aren’t playing tricks on me. As I walk to the plane, I hear my cell phone going off. I know it is my family trying to get me to come back home. I just turn it off. If I don’t leave now, I never will. As I board the plane, everything goes quiet. I see people talking, but I don’t hear the sounds. I walk numbly to my seat. As I sit, it hits me. I am leaving everything I know, for the unknown. I look back in my life and remember why I am going as I clutch the poor little cactus in my hands.


Author comment: “This story means a lot to me as the girl in the story is me, in a way. She is doing what I want to do. She has no idea what she is doing or if she will come back, but she is doing what she needs to do to make herself happy. That is what I hope to do after graduation.”

This was taken from a three-minute fiction assignment for a creative writing course in which students were given the following four words to incorporate into the story: plant, fly, trick, button.

Instructor Nate Larlee