Many thanks to Janet Beasley of JLB Creatives for this photograph.
Wannabe Wednesday is changing identity. I shall post a photo only once a month for the Flash Fiction contest the other weeks there will be a short piece for you to read.
Some brave folk have asked me if they can remain anonymous and just post a story or two for you to make comments on. Good, bad or indifferent all comments will be welcome.
This is the first of the offerings. If you have a story that you would like to share, please make sure it is suitable for PG13 and email it to me at email@example.com
The Gardener’s Apprentice
The female whale and her offspring swam contentedly beside each other in the tranquillity of the vast Ocean. The mother whale, the size of which cannot even be imagined, was the chief gardener of the ocean and as the oldest female in this sea it was her duty to pass all her knowledge onto her precious son to take over from her when the time was right. They had been swimming together for many, many months in the silent waters, checking the various gardens and allotments that were vital to the Ocean. Periodically, they would hear a soulful cry of a fellow whale thousands of nautical miles away, also tending plants and gardens, and she would answer in her mournful song telling them where they had travelled and what they had seen.
“My son,” she murmured lovingly, “all that is around you is precious. Even if you can’t see it amidst the gloom, you must learn that we are here to protect it and allow it to flourish. It is our duty to nurture our plants and to help them become the beautiful precious gifts that they are.” Her son acknowledged his wise mother and kept his eyes open for the small allotment they were to maintain this trip. It was far away from where they lived.
“Plants need light and love” explained his mother, smoothly gliding through the stillness. “We need to make sure that they have all that they need and are not being attacked by parasites which choose to feed upon them.” Her son listened attentively, eager to learn from her, as he was not yet old enough or large enough to take over from his mother, the protector of the Ocean.
On and on they swam seeing nothing but tiny particles of broken plant that flew towards them. Her son, still youthful but also immensely large, was still playful and in their travels would attempt to join other strange creatures that swam alone or in groups, as and when he met them. Occasionally, he would try to chase and dart after the flashing shining streaking objects that flew overhead on a trajectory to some deeper point in the never ending darkness. His mother knew exactly where to go, lead by a keen sense of direction.
The son was beginning to wonder how much further they should travel when he realised that he could see more clearly and in the distance he saw a shimmer of light.
“Mother!” he gasped. “I can see brightness. The allotment must be ahead and we shall find your plants.”
“Ah yes, my son, it has been so long since I planted them, before you were born, that I have almost forgotten where they are. I wonder how they have grown. This is a very nice area, full of light and hope. Look around and you will see that the conditions are just right for nurturing”.
They headed towards the shimmer which in turn expanded to an infusion of light, bringing with it warmth. The gloom evaporated completely and light filled the space in front of them. The light produced warmth and the young whale felt the temperature change as he swam closer. The smaller whale blinked at the change and as his eyes became accustomed to the sudden brightness and the rays of light that pierced the darkness he saw nine spherical plants.
“Oh Mother!” he exclaimed “The plants. They are there, and they are huge” They moved closer to inspect the plants. “Oh no! I’m afraid that some of them have not had enough light and have not grown much” he said pointing to the smaller plants positioned further away from the bright light. “But this one,” here he pointed towards the third plant “This one is a beautiful iridescent plant. It is almost green- blue in colour. It is the most breathtaking plant I have ever seen!” He floated, transfixed by the glorious colours of the living, breathing plant which appeared to be enveloped in strands of soft white cotton.
“Oh my dear Son!” replied the mother whale sadly “I am afraid that this one is not what you may think. This one has been attacked by parasites.” She turned the plant around to check it. “Look carefully through the magnifying glass and you will see how they have bred in their millions and have grouped themselves all over the plant, harvesting the goodness from it without replenishing it, and draining it of its energy.” The son examined the plant in horror. She continued, “some of the creatures that live symbiotically on the plant have attempted to regenerate leaves and stems but they are insufficient in number and the parasitic creatures have taken too much sap from the plant to allow it to heal itself. We have left it too late to help this poor plant,” continued his mother. “Look how there are huge patches in it where the greedy parasites have sucked the life out of it and eaten through its glorious green foliage. Smell how it emits a poisonous aroma. This is a plant which is dying“.
The plant was very large but it had indeed been brutally ravaged in places. Its natural green protection had been removed and the parasites had used it to provide for themselves, building larger and larger colonies, which in turn led to more raping of the plant. The plant’s sap, its lifeblood, had become a dirty brown colour instead of being clear. It had been polluted by the parasites who had fouled it in many ways. The parasites had weakened this marvel of nature, and although it had tried to repair itself, it was now in too poor a state. Weakened by the constant demands on it, it would not last too much longer. Even as the whales watched, they could see small explosions and revolting gases seeping from the gaping wounds covering the plant.
After examining it as carefully as they could, the mother shook her huge head sadly and confirmed that the plant was beyond their skills.
“What about the others?” asked her son.
“The first two plants have had too much light and heat and cannot flourish. Maybe in time when the brightness lessens they will begin to germinate again. Others are too far away from the light and now, I fear they may never germinate, but the fourth one, next to the poor sick plant, looks promising. If we use it to replace the sick one, it should stand a good chance. It has a healthy colour and may even become more beautiful than this one.”
Heartened, the smaller whale waited for his mother to show him how to remove the plant correctly, so none of the parasites spilled onto the neighbouring plant. She had done this before several times. A diseased plant was not unusual to her. She would dispose of it so it did not contaminate her beautiful ocean garden
“Don’t be sad my son” there are many other plants like this and some far more stunning. When we finish here, I shall take you to another of our allotments and then you will see them for yourself.”
Her son was placated and waited, for this was the important part. He watched and learned as his mother opened her huge mouth. It became wider and wider until finally it was large enough for her to consume the entire plant, which slid into her vast stomach, where it would no longer pollute her precious ocean.
The two whales repaired their allotment and replaced the vacant spot with its neighbouring plant which immediately began to improve in colour.
“Mother?” queried the young whale “Is it true we have names for all our allotments and plants?”
“Yes, dear Son.”
“What did you call this allotment?” “This one was called ‘The Solar System’ it is part of a larger garden known as ‘The Milky Way’”
“And the little sick plant?”
“That, my son, was one I had hope for. I had planted it in the best spot I could. That was called ‘Earth’”.