Flash fiction: Whispers of Cabbage

Cabbage-looking plants in a flower bed on the shoreline of Sliema. Photo: Anita Simonsen
I take tons of photos when I go places and staying in Malta allows me to explore new things very often. This amounts to a lot of photos.
To give you an idea of the quantity, let me paint you a picture (he he):
twice my boyfriend and I went for a short walk near the shoreline of our hotel (this probably took less than 1½ hours each time) and after each walk I had around 116 photos.

I want to use these photos somehow in my writing, somehow combining photography and writing would be ideal.
At first I thought poetry, but I honestly don’t care much for it. Then it hit me …flash fiction!
They’re short pieces of stories completed in less than a 1000 words. Perfect for accompanying a photo and fitting within a blog post : D

I want to share with you guys my very first attempt at this form of writing. I hope you’ll enjoy it <3 Please share your thoughts and critique.
Look forward to more flash fiction in the future.

Whispers of cabbage

There’s nothing magical about cabbage.
At least that’s what I thought before coming to Tas-Sliema. That’s what everybody thinks.
At first nobody notices anything out of the ordinary, I mean why would you? Why turnaround from the breathtaking sea to look at the flowerbeds? Especially when said flowerbeds are covered in cabbage-like plants on militarized rows.

They came as whispers.
Tiny snippets in shadowed corners, in lazy afternoon sunbeams, in passing on a street corner. Cabbage.
Everybody had their own ideas, their own versions, their own experiences. Looking back, it took me ages to grasp that anything was amiss. Despite this, there had always been an eerie sensation, like the hairs at the nap of my neck never really settled, a hollowness at the pit of my stomach.

I had to understand, to connect the dots, to uncover the truth.
I started asking around. The uninitiated were overbearing in their attempt to hide how they thought me insane. While the Knowing would become overwhelmed with relief, once realizing they faced a like-minded.
I carried around a notebook, scribbled slices of people’s minds as I questioned and uncovered.
Rabbit, cabbage, fairies, cabbage, gardener … cabbage. Always cabbage.
They were at the center of it, it was clear.

Next step was a stakeout.
Night appeared to be ideal, to be the harbinger. It was then that things happened, besides when nobody was looking during the day of course.
I placed myself on the first steps of the beige, stone staircase leading down to the sea. If I seated myself low enough I could remain out of view, unseen. I felt the ebbing heat in the sun-warmed stones, even though I wore thick jeans. The cap of my camera’s lens clicked as I removed it with a hand steadier than my heart.
I waited, eyes peeled.

At first there was nothing.
But I returned. Night after night, whenever I could slip away. It took me awhile to see the signs, but then they stood out like freckles. A rustle, a chewed leaf, dirt on the pavement.
Puzzle pieces, I thought to myself, I am good at puzzles.

The gardener became a regular as much as I.
We chatted, we connected. He agreed, but had hit a wall. I showed him my pieces of the puzzle and he showed me his. Together we would find the missing piece.
I brought us coffee at dusk; he, a blanket for the steps. He had heard the whispers, started some too.
It was unclear which were truth. Sometimes it felt like holding onto water.
And then it hit me, what if they all were?

The moon was full, it created anticipation.
I was alone at the steps, the gardener away at a family thing. I studied the speckled curves of the cabbage leaves as they shivered in the wind. I shivered too.
He had tried to remove the cabbage at first, tried several times, dammed be what the officials said. But always they returned. Changing the dirt did nothing.
The unbeatable cabbage. Like graffiti in a tunnel. Always returning.

That night I saw a rabbit. It must have been. What else could it be?
It popped its head out of the rows, eyes meeting, and darted away towards the bushes.
Towards the darkness. My camera dangling unused, I cursed.

Whispers aplenty, I had created a tapestry covering the walls of my bedroom.
With an old ball of yarn in hand I set to work, connecting the dots, looking for the missing piece.
I couldn’t open the windows after that, risking my work. No, I got plenty of fresh air during my nightly stakeouts.

I told the gardener about the rabbit. He cursed too.
They ate his plants. Fluffy balls of destruction, he called them.

Like the benches, I was a fixture, next to the ocean, among the cabbage.
I had gotten good at gathering whispers, so good that nobody could pass the cabbage unquestioned.

Another night on the steps, I was ready to see truth.
The rabbit had ventured out since the full moon, but I wasn’t looking for rabbits.
Rabbits didn’t have wings, didn’t make the cabbage come back unhindered. No, it was clear.
I saw a flicker among the leaves. A fledgling mirror of a dragonfly wing. Fairies.
A giggle, not mine, emerged from the flowerbed. Our eyes met, intelligent, not like the rabbit’s. She knew that I knew. The protector of the cabbage.
On the promenade of Tas-Sliema.

They picked me up the next day.
Men in white, men of healing.
There isn’t anything healing about a strait jacket.

If you want to read more, you can find an index of my written work here.
Next Wednesday I’ll post another flash fiction, this time about boys and water, so stay tuned! : D

Don’t hesitate to comment below with any thoughts or criticism.
Feedback sustains me : D

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4 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Whispers of Cabbage

  1. Aww! I didn’t expect that ending, it was very abrupt. What about the gardener? I don’t think the narrator is crazy because she saw a fairy. Unless the ‘men of healing’ are actually some sort of organization to keep supernatural things silenced.. But they just throw you in a striat jacket to make you think you’re crazy, to keep you quiet!

    1. Thanks for your comment and input <3
      Hope the ending wasn't too abrupt, I wanted to enable some speculation C:
      Good question about the gardener. Maybe there'll be a follow-up where the gardener attempts to find the main character.
      I love the conspiracy speculations! Really makes the story come alive and grow beyond its 712 words ^^

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