I took a workshop through the Bath Flash Fiction Festival last month and wrote this during one of the sessions. I generally try to shy away from light-hearted subjects in my flash for some reason, but we had prompts and this came out.
The Kale of the Wilde
Petals float from the invitation and land on Willow’s desk. Thick ink scrolls over the page. The emerging queen of the Hamptons social scene has touched this paper. Willow’s fingers trace the curves of each letter until her skin tingles.
Verdant Spenné requests Willow Wilde’s presence at the season opening of our garden.
Guests to dress as one’s favourite plant.
Willow’s stepfather, Ralph, owns the landscape company that designed the Spenné gardens.
Willow stomps through Ralph’s greenhouses. Azaleas, White-Edged Hostas, Purple Lupin. Willow doesn’t have a favourite. And though she may dream of Verdant’s radiant face, seeing it at a rich person’s party is more of a nightmare.
Their tenuous connection stems from one chance meeting at the Spenné mansion after Ralph cajoled Willow into spending her coveted summer vacation doing grunt work for a fair wage.
Ivy league schools were expensive, even for scholarship kids, and Willow couldn’t afford to say no.
Willow, sulkily carting a wheelbarrow of compost through the garden had run smack into Verdant and dumped a hefty pile of manure on her feet.
“Oh shit,” Willow yelped.
Verdant, who managed to look regal standing in a pile of compost, grinned. “We go to school together.”
“I’ve seen you.” Willow’s heart thumped madly. “We don’t hang with the same people.”
“We should rectify that.” Verdant disappeared, presumably to wash poop off her Prada slingbacks.
But this party. Ralph tries to help. “It’ll be nice to meet other young people.” He sews bushy fabric leaves onto her I heart New York t-shirt.
Ralph married Willow’s mother ten years ago, six months before she died. Ralph stepped into his dual role with solid determination.
He pulls out a ball cap with “LONDON” across the front and plops it on her head. He hugs her briefly and pushes her out.
Willow stands in Verdant’s garden, lost in a crowd of smartly dressed people in expensive clothing. Their homage to dressing per the invitation extends to leaf printed sundresses and hand fans adorned with roses. The men wear designer Hawaiian shirts and dress sandals.
Willow feels the sneers as she presses through the crowd, conspicuous in jeans and her bushy leaf-covered shirt. She gestures at the London hat and explains to no one in general. “I’m a Kale of Two Cities.” Her voice trails off and she looks around for somewhere to hide. Heat creeps up her face.
Verdant Spenné spies the leafy green municipalities standing awkwardly near the hydrangeas. The hostess, transcendent in a deep green dendritic patterned Vera Wang smiles down at the leafy little woman. “Aren’t we a pair,” she says, her rich voice compassionate and amused. “If I don’t kale you, I’ll make you stronger.”
Willow manages not to swoon, but she can’t bring herself to speak.
Verdant touches Willow’s hand. “Ms. Wilde, are you going to ask me to tour the garden with you?”
Reason departs. Willow smiles up at the goddess before her. “Oh, Ms. Spenné, I plant on it.”