Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Grape

An old wise philosopher once challenged a town when they professed luck of a young boy’s fate to avoid the draft, while his friend went off to fight. When comparing the circumstances, to most it would seem apparent, but to the old man and the luck of one over the other, he said “we’ll see.”

Disheveled sweats and bloodshot eyes she waited, not for a knight in shining armor but for a hint of comfort to walk through the hospital doors. Her hair was limp and lifeless along with her posture. The future couldn’t possibly hold happiness; no rainbow to follow the storm rolling in. Your body can only be so stressed. On any normal day, these are not her aesthetics. She is out of character and aloof, for her father’s fairing far worse than they’d expected.

She’d gone down to the lobby in a daze to meet her brother; to wait anywhere but that depressing room. The rubber slides through her hand as she waits atop the escalator…and she thinks of life as a cycle, constantly rotating and slipping by, so she tries to grip it tighter; to pause it…..if only for an instant.

Staring past everyone who enters, she notices a man carrying a big basket of fruit and she breathes disgust for she hadn’t thought of that. Following him with her eyes, he comes higher and closer and her head moves forward as if to sniff flowers. The cellophane doesn’t wrap completely around what’s overflowing the wicker, and one tiny grape tumbles out. To stop a man for something so insignificant; to speak for words have escaped her for hours now, it felt good not to care. Desensitized, she’d craved a little good. As the man disappears into the elevators she sighs and returns to pondering what her life will be like without dad.

Dreaming of her best memories of him, she’d agreed with herself; he’d lived a storybook life. A navy man, he’d found his heart in a woman at 19. His fingers like triggers, he’d handled weapons not of gun-smoke and steal, but correspondence. A man who could type when no one else could. The wealthiest family on the block, they had the first television. A flickering blue light dancing amongst the stars, their living room was always packed with anxious glowing faces and warm bodies strewn carefree on the carpet. For feelings never pounded harder through his chest on the day he lost her, they’d been married for 60 years. She now thought about life and how it finds its form in many shapes within this world, the more interesting part of a form being the direction it takes and the meaning it delivers to the lives of one or many; whether conscious or un. Her fresh tears are interrupted…

Crashing to the floor behind her, a body thuds with a subtle snap. Screaming in agony, a heavyset woman in her 60’s has just broken her arm in three places after visiting her daughter. Shocked by the incident, the disenchanted storms over to help. “Thank you so much dear…I don’t know what happened…I’m just not paying attention…I’m sorry.” In shock, she’s sobbing but holding her arm and repeating over and over, the fact that she must get to work. “Mam, you’re right here in a hospital, I think you should get it checked out, no?” “No, I really must go, I don’t have the time right now…dammit, it’s killing me.…..I just wanted to stop by, see my daughter and head out……’re an angel though…… thanks so much for helping….I can’t believe this…I’m such a freakin klutz.” As the woman scurries out in disbelief that something so simple could have led to this, she regrets her visit. As she lumbers forward in a hunch, her head lays flat in a grimace. As noticeable as a blue ink stain on a crisp white shirt, squished mercilessly against the back of her dress was the grape. Shocked, our otherwise heartbroken and gray figure grabs her mouth and literally turns cold white. Behind her, a streak continues to dry on the tan-tiled floor, and her conscience kicks in. Tearing apart her stomach for being so remiss, even as the woman walks back into the lobby deciding the pain was unbearable, she can’t say what she now knows. It just isn’t necessary and how could she possibly respond if asked why she did nothing. No matter what she’d come up with, it would never make a difference.

As the town looked on at the lives of those two gentlemen; one spared from the calamity of war, and one sent feasibly to death; defending his life with nothing but a gun......their paths were revealed. Less than a year before the cadet left home, a plague swept through the town. It took with it many of the youngest lives, including our pardoned fellow at the ripe age of 22. He’d coughed and bled from every direction, spending the last 3 months of his life in a sweaty piss-stained bed for those who’d cared for him had died or were forced to quit. Two summers later, our subject doomed to trek the countryside of every country he'd never cared to visit, he'd endured no famine, slept uncomfortably through nights with comrades by his side, and came back to a huge welcome home party. He was awarded the medal of honor for bravery. A hometown hero he began his own practice and went on to be the most educated, successful citizen their little village ever churned out.

Now leaning on the balcony ledge with pure disgust, she kicks internally at her previously lethargic whispers “who cares about a damn grape.” Deciding never to let something like that happen again….just shrugging off a complacent notion for its priority is too low for an otherwise fatigued body, she vows never to have an excuse; she continues to learn. No one knows why things happen until they’re able to look back and see the outcome. Although the fate of the injured woman is unknown, such an unbelievably difficult coincidence may this time lead to destruction, but in regards to her future…well, that……”we’ll see.”

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