Short Stories

The cactus

Sonia was about to cry. Crying with rage. She wants to decide for herself whether or not to go to a birthday party. She has decided not to go to Catherine’s house, but her mother insists that a birthday invitation should always be accepted, especially when the birthday girl is from the same class as us. And when the birthday girl’s mother is our friend.

The father understands Sonia. When he doesn’t like to go somewhere, he doesn’t go either.

– Leave Sonia alone! He says to his mother. “If she doesn’t want to go to the birthday party, then don’t go.”

“Catarina only invited me because her mother wanted to,” Sonia says. – You know very well, Mom. Her mother thinks that just because you’re friends, we have to be!

It is Sonia who chooses her friends and they are all very different from Catherine: they have no dull braids, always the same size and thickness falling down their backs, they don’t wear impeccably clean blouses, without a speck of dirt, not even On the collar, they do not wear one-color stockings that never slip off. Sonia’s friends are noisy, like bold clothes, and are a bit out of place. And when someone needs it, they are always willing to help. And Catarina?

Catherine, if she had a big black umbrella, like a man’s, would open it over her notebook so no one could copy it. When she doesn’t have the best grade in the class, Catarina looks even thinner, waner and quieter. Catarina never laughs. It is closed like an oyster.

“Poor Catherine,” her mother says suddenly. – If you don’t take ‘Very Good’ home, Dad yells at her. And the mother doesn’t say a word. With a husband with such a bad temper, he dares not speak. I just wonder that Catarina can even throw a birthday party. In a house like that, where everyone has to walk in slippers so they don’t get dirty on the floor and where you can’t make noise, because your father can’t stand any noise! ​​…

“I didn’t like having such a father,” thinks Sonia. “When I bring a” Satisfy “home, the most that mine says is: – Well, at least you didn’t bring any ‘Not Satisfied’! – Catherine is really unhappy.”

Mom already wrapped the gift: stationery with fluorescent lines. Sonia had long wanted to have one like this, but with the colors of the rainbow.

That doesn’t do anything like Catarina.

“I’ll stay with him for me,” thinks Sonia. “Catarina doesn’t even know what she was going to receive. And surely our mothers won’t talk about stationery when they meet. What I really wanted was to write a letter like this:

  Dear Mom,

Catarina is a fool. Since I have no desire to go to a freaking birthday party, I’m staying in my room.


This was good, but unfortunately it cannot be. ”

Sonia thinks about what she can offer instead of stationery. What he liked was to give her a cactus. One, with spikes the thickness of a finger. Sonia is thinking at that time, a while ago, that she loaned her her favorite lead doll and she, in recess, dropped it on the water grid. And now, in return, you will receive a cactus full of spikes. One of the mother’s collection. She doesn’t even like them anymore. They grow like mushrooms – he often says, because family and friends only offer him cacti. Surely the mother won’t notice if she’s missing a vase in the middle of fifty-nine!

Sonia chooses a small and crooked cactus with many hairs and numerous spikes. At the end is a kind of thorn, soft and brownish yellow. You still wonder if you should cut it, but you leave the cactus as it is.

She wraps it in four sheets of tissue paper so that it does not bite and puts it next to the house slippers in the plastic bag.

“It must be horrible to always have to take fives home,” Sonia thinks of the tram on her way home. “And have a screaming father who everyone is afraid of …”

Since learning about her father, Sonia has come to see Catherine with other eyes. She pity him.

Look at the bag lying between your feet. Maybe I shouldn’t have changed the pretty stationery for the ugly cactus. The trip is long and it still spoils in the bag.

Suddenly, Sonia remembers Catherine’s face when she noticed that Sonia had stuck a cheat sheet under her wallet. He had given her a menacing look as if he would immediately complain about her, but so far he had not. That was an angry look

Not! Sonia won’t even congratulate her. It will only smile gently, thus a kind of tiny smile from the corner of your mouth, and shake your hand. And give you the cactus.

The cactus, which doesn’t even have perfume.

The cactus, which only stings.

Sonia is in front of Catherine’s house. Until there is a lot of noise inside for those who have a father who always wants silence.

“I’m glad you came,” says Catarina’s mother. – Catarina will be happy.

“Now this is it!” thinks Sonia. “So she thought I didn’t want to come?”

Catarina comes to the door running. She perspires, with loose hair, dressed in a pink nightgown and lettuce green pants.

– Hi! He shouts cheerfully. “I’m different today, aren’t you?” – she says, seeing the strange face with which Sonia is looking at her.

– I was allowed to choose this on my own.

Catarina points proudly to the hot pink and the lettuce green.

“Congratulations,” says Sonia softly. That so-changed Catherine took her completely by surprise.

Unwrap the cactus carefully… and you have to look twice until you can believe it:

– It’s not possible! Mutters Sonia.

But there it is, small, delicate, yellow.

With the heat of the sack, what had once been brown and withered had turned into a yellow flower.

– It’s so sweet! Exclaims Catherine. – A cactus in bloom! My first cactus!

Catherine is sincerely pleased. No longer a weird, silent oyster. At home, where you don’t have to strive for fives, it’s completely different.

Raises the cactus in the air and turns it from all sides. I laughed to get so crooked out of the ground.

It’s weird, thinks Sonia. “I brought an ugly cactus to a person I didn’t like. However the cactus became beautiful, and I suddenly came to like that person!” Evelyne Stein-Fischer 13 Geschichten vom Liebhaben München, DTV Junior, 1990

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