by Rachel Torrance

Too many saguaros out here. My mother is saying something as we walk through the park. She is asking me what I want to do. With my life. The whole thing, all at once. I am gazing past her to the expanse of pale earth marked with green shrubs. She stops. We both wait for some sort of acknowledgment. I kneel on the path to examine a striped yellow and green Hornworm wobbling across the rocks. Every few steps he twists to the side, losing his upright angle. His rapid and miniature feet look pluckable, like tiny petals. I close my eyes and place my cheek against the hot and dusty path. This is the kind of acknowledgement I have been seeking.

You must act like a pirate if you want to survive in the desert. For example, Do not be hesitant, only brave and reckless. For example, Trust only secured and proven allies. You will think, these plants are only trying to hurt me. But, you must press on, to find the treasure these spines protect. These weapons are not ornaments for attracting mates, nor accidents of evolution. They are there to preserve that which everyone wants, the succulent itself.

My number one goal is to experience a succulent from the inside. I imagine it is cool, perhaps a bit slimy with the water it retains, perhaps, in time, healing its hollows to become smooth and sealed. I would like to stay, fetally curled, inside a cactus. If I were hungry, I could turn my head up slowly, and take very shy and tentative bites with my teeth. I would eat very little, as I am expending almost no energy for movement. I just need to maintain.

I have conceived two possible methods for achieving this goal. Method number one: I find a giant cactus. The diameter of the hollow must be at least two-and-a-half feet, because that is the diameter of my curled body. The cactus, therefore, must have at least a five foot diameter so that my hollow will not deplete too much of its sustenance ability. Method number two: I must become very small and then I can live inside any number of cacti, even in my neighborhood.

Several people have told me that they do not believe my number one goal is reasonable. Specifically, they believe that method #2 is impossible. To this, I say, when faced with grave danger, people have lifted cars off of their grandmothers. There are several grandmothers alive today because of a feat such as this!

When I stand up, my moth