SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

The Woman Who Sold her Flute to Buy a Cabbage

Story by Maggie Shearon (Read author interview) June 15, 2005

We were at the Path Mark. Our cart was so full—diapers, juice, fruit, ice cream and meat—and I recalled needing a cabbage. A red cabbage. I wanted a red cabbage because I had started Weight Watchers. Wait and Watch the pounds melt. Me the skinniest girl in grade school. Bird legs. Flatsy doll. Stick girl. Weight Watchers. Having our baby blew me up like a balloon and the only cure the cabbage cure.

Red cabbage. Red cabbage salad. Red cabbage stir fry. Red cabbage juice. Cabbage on ice. Cabbage with a twist. This red cabbage over easy on a bed of love would be my ticket to thinness and happiness and the more cabbage I would eat the thinner I would become and he would love me finally. Three cents a pound on sale. A bargain of a cabbage. It felt like it weighed about two pounds maybe three, perfect for a woman like me. The cabbage looked good—nice and firm—no wilted leaves. The cabbage looked more edible more incredible than me.

Not much of a smell. Fresh. Not one of those red cabbages that have been lying around doing nothing since last summer when it had given birth to a hundred little cabbages probably. This was a single cabbage, a free range cabbage an independently minded cabbage who was still perky. And I wanted that cabbage more than I had wanted anything in years. So I put it on top of the grocery cart like a little nipple.

Look at me I wanted to shout to all the people at the Path Mark. I have a red cabbage nipple and two just like it at least under my milk-stained shirt. Now I know though that I should not have advertised so freely. I should have just nestled that cabbage between the Tide and the pampers, under the toilet paper next to the ice cream. Between slices of the wonder bread. Or I should have stuffed it in my bra with the other cabbages and committed my first true crime. But oh no, I was flaunting my cabbage like a banner, like a declaration, like some dream of a liberated nipple.

Oh no. He saw it. My husband saw the cabbage.

What is that?

A cabbage.

Why do you want it?

For my diet.

You don’t need the cabbage.

I have some recipes you might like them too.

Buy it next week not today.

But I want to make this stuff while I‘m still motivated.

Buy it next week.

No let’s get it today.

We cannot afford this cabbage. You may not get it put it back. We cannot afford this cabbage today.

It’s going to cost about a buck.

Too expensive.

That’s ridiculous.

Sell your flute.


Sell your flute. You don’t play it any more so sell it.

No I still play it for the baby in the afternoons.

Sell your flute to buy this cabbage.

This is absurd.

Sell the flute to buy the cabbage.


Say it.


Say it.

Okay I will sell my flute to buy this cabbage.

It was a big cabbage. It rang up a buck 93. Too expensive. Just like he said.

It lasted a long time, some red mold in my mouth, after I had the last bite—that tiny crunchy center that tastes like all the rest of it but feels more important being at the center and being the last—he said: you’ve had your cabbage now sell your flute.

And so I did.

About the Author

Maggie Shearon lives in Colorado. She likes Irish whiskey, feral dogs and SmokeLong Quarterly.

This story appeared in Issue Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Nine

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.


The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. The long list has been published on the blog. The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.