Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bringing up Cabbage

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Cabbage Patch" in Mirror Shards.

You're wondering why I'm telling the tale about her life. You've heard about her on the newscasts and on Facebook. And you've never heard of me. But, that doesn't mean you know everything. Yes, I'm sure you know how Mr. Draughtsman found her squalling in the center of a red cabbage. I didn't know that when I first met her, and you probably didn't either; it wasn't until her celebrity that Mr. Draughtsman came forward with his tale. Y'all think he should write about her life. But if the story had been up to him, there wouldn't be a book. Just another murder.

I worked for Mr.Draughtsman as a farmhand back then. She wasn't alone, but you mustn't believe Mr.Draughtsman's version, he found a whole patch of kids. He didn't know what to do and he left them in the field. They cried and that's what brought me out while he fetched a tractor so he could till the field. You know how it is with a baby, sometimes one look creates a bond you can't break. It happened that way as I peered at her red skin and those white veins. All the babies cried, but when she saw me her lips curled into a smile and I couldn't leave those blue eyes in the field. I hid her under a jacket and I passed him on his tractor as he drove out to the field.

Even if it hadn't been for her cabbage patch birth, I knew she was different. Not superficially, of course you've all seen that, but she became my companion. I was less a mother, she never needed one of those, and more a friend.

I remember the day, several months after I found her, that Mr. Draughtsman confronted me in the broccoli field as I pushed a wheelbarrow full of broccoli heads. His face was livid, it looked just like hers. I didn't even know he was there till he knocked me over. I sprawled in the mud looking up at him.

"What did you think you were doing?" His spittle sparkled with sunlight as he spewed his hate.

I'm not dumb, but how was I to know he'd heard the rumors about the red-skinned girl. I hadn't even heard the rumors about immaculate birth back then. "What?"

"You rescued one of those obscenities." Yeah, he said that. Go ahead don't believe me, but you must see that he's trying to whitewash this whole past now that she's famous.

It took me a moment before I realized he must have found out about the baby. "So I did. They're human, or at least human enough, she doesn't deserve to die."

"How do you know that? You don't know what she's going to grow into or what chemical pesticides that might lose out of her red inhuman skin."

"It's my life. I'm not scared." I was scared, but every night as she cried I looked at her and knew that I couldn't get rid of her.

"Bring her to me. She should be with her brethren."

"Bring her so you can kill her? That's murder."

"It's only murder if she was human. Where is she?"

I was still in the mud and cold water had soaked my jeans and sweatshirt. "No."

"Turn her over or you're out of a job."


He kicked mud at me. I left the wheelbarrow of broccoli where it had tipped over onto the field and I never looked back. It took years before I found another job as I fought against his hate. You ask anyone in the county and they'll tell you my stories the right one.

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