Monday, August 22, 2016

Grapes of Joy (Blogophilia 27.9)

And now a word from our sponsor...
Hello,
My name is Christopher Mitchell and my Internet handle is Another Government Employee. I am the proprietor the blog A.G.E.’s Joint and generally a quirky individual. I’ve been a member of the group since season 2 and I’ll write about almost anything. As the name implies, I used to work for a large State Government (since mutually retired) and now split my time between Employee Benefits consulting and writing. 
This has been a weird summer. It started out great. One of my hobbies is hiking, especially in urban areas, and I was racking up miles. Then my wife and I’s work schedules looked like they were going to synch up for a trip up to the mountains of North Carolina. I no sooner got the reservations made when I came down with appendicitis and spent four days hooked up to IV antibiotics, which also caused me to miss my first deadline ever (Covered in Blogophilia 16.9, Starting Over). Then, while preparing to have surgery, I had a physical where I had a funky looking EKG. That lead to a series of tests to determine whether I had a blockage and need a stent or bypass. 
At the same time, I got a call from a HR recruiter who had job for me...in Indianapolis. The day that I got the call for the Indiana interview was the day my Cardiologist ordered the heart cath (the stent procedure). First time Ol’ Reaper came knocking for me. It was a stressful week. The test was run and there was no blockage! Yes! So, last week, this happened.



Overall, it was a productive trip, even though coming home was an adventure (which is for a later blog). 
...And now, back to our show.
“Grape?” 
Without a word, she closed her eyes and opened her mouth as the sweet morsel dropped in. Slowly she closed it, letting the juice fly over the top of her tongue. Serene stillness as she meditated on the sun and sugar and time that had gone into this one moment. It was like floating on the ocean while under the shade of the tree. Her reverie was broken with a kiss on the exposed scar above her ear. It tickled on her freshly shaved scalp. Looking up, she grinned. The face was thinner and grayer, but it was sweeter than the grape
.
“Well, Seat Mate, you said we were on a roller coaster the last time we were here. Did you like the ride?” 
Veined hands ran over the rough stubble on his chin.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Then she stopped. “But I sure could have done without that last curve.”
“But I can say I went out with a bang, right?” 
Holly covered her eyes and moaned. “Oh, my God. That was my line.” 
Hugging, they laughed for almost a full minute. Finally, Holly caught her breath and kissed him. 
“And now we both can say it.” 
Shucking off her hoodie, Holly rolled it into a makeshift pillow and put it in Bart’s lap. She lay partially on her side just to see the face. Sharing fruit, drinking wine and basking in their companionship, nothing else mattered now. Smiles and silence were all they needed. Holly shifted a little to reach her glass. 
“Penny for your thoughts?” 
Bart topped off both glasses, then took a sip. 
“It was like drifting though a tunnel. I wondered if it was going to you or Amy at the other end.”
“Anything else you remember?” 
“I heard Amy’s voice and she said to follow the sun. I wasn’t sure what she meant. It became warm and I remembered.”
Holly lifted her shirt exposing the tattoo. “This one?”




Bart leaned over and placed a kiss on the belly button in the center. “That one.”
With a smile he traced the lettering.
“The sun was coming and I wasn’t scared at all. I knew either way it was love at the end.” 
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an old heart shaped box. Inside was a small ruby ring. 
“Proverbs says a good woman is more priceless than rubies. Life proved this to me twice. This was Amy’s engagement ring. It was all I could afford at the time. She never did replace it, even when it wouldn’t fit anymore. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it until now. Holly Colczak, you are a good woman, precious beyond rubies. Could you put up with me for a while longer?” 
Holly stood up and pulled Bart with him into her arms. Tears flowed freely from them both as Bart lovingly slipped the ring on her finger. Looking up, Holly almost couldn’t get the words out. 
“Bart Morris, it was all I thought about in the hospital. I want to be your companion down that tunnel and forever. Yes.” 
The setting sun reflected off the glass buildings and on to their faces as waltzed around the tree. No music was necessary, only their heartbeats. 
The sugar maple had not changed at all. Another couple sprawled on the grass, another small romance. It was like the others it had seen in the fifty years since it was planted. Couples either came together, or didn’t. To the tree life went on.

Epilogue
A few months later at age 36, Holly lost her battle with cancer and joined Amy with Bart at her side. He followed a few days later with another embolism. He was 64. The three of them now smile on all couples picnicking under the sugar maple, wishing them eternal happiness and joy.

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Writer’s Choice Topic-Antonym of a Book Title (Grapes of Wrath)
Beatles’ Lyric-Here Comes the Sun
Include a tunnel.
Pic guesses: (Common to all) Horned; Stick me. (Pic 1) Me, too; Farm Girl; Come at me; (Pic 2) Land’s End; Last Stormtrooper; Return of the Sith; Lone tree (Pic 3) Jackalope; Bunny beast; Too much to drink.


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