Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Bucket of Grapes

The grass was smooth and short and moist. It covered a rectangular space about forty feet long by thirty feet wide. On its southern edge was the road that came up towards the lake from one of the main roads of the large city park. On its northern edge, it bordered with the concrete walking path that surrounded the lake in all directions. There were several tall thick trees that loomed over the grassy open area, their branches and leaves partially covering it in shadow. A light breeze blew gently through the bushes and the trees, making the leaves tremble and sometimes fall, like little flat colorful dancers making their final appearance before an empty house. On the western edge there was a path that lead up to the lake, connecting the road to the concrete path. Every few minutes, some people walked up that little path and a few others walked down, subtly interrupting the stillness of the little meadow with bits of conversation and the rhythmic sound of heels upon concrete. Cars drove up from the main road every so often, sliding up the curving street with ease and disappearing once again around the bend, on their way to the little parking lot behind the big wooden building or to the northern side of the park. Except for those slight interruptions, the grassy slanted meadow was quiet and peaceful and self contained, like a little rectangular room with grass for a carpet and trees and brush for walls. Close to the trees, on the northern side, a couple frolicked together, laying on the grass, pressing against each other, kissing and touching and giggling lightly as their bodies shivered with delight. Their little giggles mixed in with the soft calls of the birds to form a single gentle chaos that emphasized the delicate silence, outlining the emptiness with a kind of music, giving it an edge of crystalline beauty and sweaty lusty song.
Towards the south side, close to the center, a woman was sitting and, just a few feet away, a girl was sitting next to her. The woman was dressed all in black, a short black skirt and a shoulderless black top. Her hair was also black, long and smooth, falling all the way to her higher back, past the nape of her neck. Her skin was a light chocolate color, her eyes were slim and focused, her nose was small and pointed, her smile was wide and tight, as if it was being held back from making a full appearance. Her legs were crossed and she sat on the wet grass, her naked dark thighs pressing down on the wet long leaves which left tiny lines of green on her smooth skin. There was a blue bucket full of grapes close to her right hand and she reached every so often to grab one of the grapes and drop it into her mouth. As she chewed on the little spheres of sweetness, she smiled some more, in the tight way that she did, and she talked to the young girl that sat beside her.
The girl was about sixteen or seventeen. She also wore black, a sleeveless simple black top and a short black skirt. Her skin was white and it was shining like a pink mirror under the rays of sunlight that hit directly on the unprotected spot where she sat. The girl had long blonde hair, which was tied in a single long braid that fell down her back. Her face still had traces of the little girl that might have once ran around the lake, squealing and jumping, hoping to catch a duck or a pigeon in her hands. Her cheeks were round and smooth, her eyes were blue and soft, her smile was broad and simple, holding a light of truthful innocence that was missing in the woman. The girl also leaned over, every so often, to grab a single grape and drop it into her mouth. When she chewed, she remained silent and listened carefully to what the older woman was saying. She nodded and smiled at the appropriate moments, trying with difficulty to not be distracted by the lustful couple that was lying on the grass just a few feet away. Her eyes would wander over to them for rapid moments of indulgence, just enough to take in what was happening, what were they doing, what were they about to do. Then the girl would bring her eyes back to the woman, who never looked away.
"It takes time to understand these things… there is no simple, easy solution…", the woman spoke through the remains of a single grape that still rolled around in her mouth. The girl nodded, taking in the woman’s words and presence through her wide open eyes. "There is a real difference between theory and practice… I cannot emphasize that enough."
The woman looked at the girl, trying to gauge whether her words were making their way into her, whether something was leaving a mark. She then reached over into the bucket, took out another grape and plopped it into her mouth. She extended her lower lip, caught the little purple sphere easily between her teeth and smiled at her skill. Then she started to chew again and she turned to the girl to speak: "Do you understand what I am saying? It is not enough to just hear about these things…"
The girl nodded, swallowed the last bit of her grape and then smiled broadly: "Yes, I believe I do… I am very eager to learn."
The woman bent her right knee towards her and nodded with exaggerated motions. "That’s what I’m saying. I know you are… I have no question about it…All I’m saying is that you will need a lot of practice…Practice, real world practice, is crucial…"
She chewed through her grape and let her eyes wander over the smooth young face of the girl. It was clear to the dark skinned woman that there was so much work to do and there was only so much that she could say to help her. It was also clear that the young girl was there to learn and that it was her place to make sure that she did.
"I will find others to work with you…there are always plenty of students ready to find a new project… it won’t be difficult. I will find people that are better than you so that you can learn from them. That way you will be forced to make an extra effort, an effort you might not have made otherwise."
She reached once again into the bucket and grabbed a new grape, very dark, very purple and very round. The woman was feeling very playful and happy just then so she threw it up into the air in front of herself and she leaned over to once again catch it in her open mouth. The young girl laughed at the woman’s playfulness.
As the woman ripped apart the perfect purple grape with her teeth, she said: "I have been coming here, to this very spot, for many years. I like to sit here, eating grapes. I used to sit here without doing anything, but I would get too restless. I then tried to read, but I would get too distracted. I tried to sleep but then I felt like I was missing the experience. So I got the grapes… and once I got the grapes, I could sit here for hours, just chewing and eating and chewing and eating…like the cows." Then she burst out laughing and a tiny bit of grape flew out of her mouth and fell on the moist grass. The young girl laughed as well, and she imagined them both as cows on a wide open range, chewing on grass for days on end. They both kept on laughing for a bit and then the woman leaned over and slapped the girl’s naked knee.
"Don’t worry… we’ll make something out of you yet… a real something."
Right then the girl’s eyes were wide open and shining and the woman’s words were like little purple spheres of sweetness that, for a moment, covered up the dryness of a cold world of empty silence. The breeze made the woman’s black hair fly up slightly and the young girl could only wonder at her beauty and her wisdom and her kindness. Then the woman reached into the bucket to grab another grape and she offered it to the young girl, with her careful smile drawn tightly across her face. The young girl nodded and took it and dropped it into her own mouth. She started chewing once again while a car passed by behind them and the couple giggled once again by the tall old trees that surrounded the green lake. The girl’s wide eyes were still on the woman and the woman’s eyes were still on her, and the breeze felt like a shower of kisses on the soft pink valleys of her naked skin.

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