I would first like to extend a grand THANK YOU to everyone who commented. Whether you’re a friend or reader of the blog, I felt rather special when coming online to see all of the great advice and kind words. So again, thank you for that.
As for the result to the comments and personal reflection, I know where to go from now. I think it best to just let the chips fall, as it were, and carry on with life. I know who my true friends are, and that’s all that should matter. That’s all that is going to matter. And now, as I said, it’s time to carry on with life.
The book that I am in has FINALLY been published and is now in my ownership. New Branch of the Journey is a collection of poetry, short stories, photography and art that I participated in last spring semester that one of my friends from school put together for a class. The book was originally going to come out in May, but scheduling put the book off. It wasn’t a big deal, really. But I am a naturally anxious person, so naturally I wanted the book sooner than later. Now that I’ve waited it out and received the final project, I am glad that the extra time was taken to make it look the best possible. In the book I published a short story called “The Raspberry Stand.” Since I have little else to talk about for today, I’m going to post the short story below. It’s not my best work, but it covers a period of my life that I will likely write a lot about in the future. Enjoy! (Note: It wouldn’t let me indent, so I spaced out the next paragraphs.)
The Raspberry Stand
I made my way from the local farmer’s market in Annecy, France towards a small park that was decked in varying shades of green. Surrounding the old part of the city were the Chaîne des Aravis Mountains, which sat above the famous and majestic Lac d’Annecy. The water of Europe’s cleanest lake was of a glacier blue hue, and the mountains glistened with their many colors. I knew that my life at home was difficult and my escape from it could only last for so long, but I held onto the images before me as I took a seat on a warm bench, a small carton of raspberries in my hand.
The farmer’s market where I had purchased the raspberries was full of chaos and bargaining, but I paid no notice of those things. What caught my senses were the smells, colors and life that existed within the market. I walked from stand to stand, taking in the scent of pungent herbs such as garlic and fresh aromas from the breads that were baked that morning. One man was selling two black and white piglets at his kiosk. I feared that one day they would become someone’s breakfast bacon. There existed a sudden urge within me to free the poor innocent creatures, however I knew that in order to keep my innocence in the historic town I must carry on, and carry on I did. I had never been to a market of such nature before, and the mere presence of it made me wish I could remain there forever.
The school trip I was on consisted of nineteen students and three teachers. The trick to the trade was that if students took two plus years of French in high school, they could travel to France for three weeks. The students ranged from ages sixteen to eighteen, me being the oldest by a few months. I had just graduated a couple of weeks prior to the trip and had four years of French under my belt.
I was not sitting alone in the park; there were five others with me. I was with two of the girls from my high school, one of which had graduated with me, as well as two other females and a male I had met days before. I was not considerable friends with the lot, but they made for a great bunch of traveling companions during our stay in France.
The raspberries I was holding held no special nature beyond a traditional grouping of fruit. They were neither organic nor in possession of any mystical French powers, as far as I was aware. They were locally grown and arranged into small cartons for the sake of selling – nothing more, nothing less. The reason that they mattered at the time was because I had grown to dislike them. They reminded me of home.
My mother, siblings and I used to go to my grandparent’s house every summer to visit for a few days, and even though that had changed with time, I can still remember a key part of the journey: stopping alongside a country highway road to buy raspberries from a wooden kiosk. This stand was literally in the middle of nowhere. It had always baffled me as to how the people running it managed to make a penny in such a queer location. Nevertheless, we would stop by every summer and pick up a couple containers of raspberries and also purchase some of their homemade raspberry lotion. It was heavenly.
As time passed, the visits to the raspberry stand waned; it was as if someone in the car had become allergic to the feeling of happiness. Sometimes the stand was closed like a bad omen, and other times we simply did not stop. The sky appeared darker with each summer’s passing, filling me with malcontent towards the situation. For years we passed the raspberry stand without a second glance. In our world, it had become invisible.
There were many reasons for our absence from the berry kiosk. The divorce between my mother and stepfather was what started it all, but the death of my grandfather soon after was what really did it. Mother stopped believing in sweetness after that. Being children, we believed in what she believed in. There was no alternative, no separation. The end of the world did not come at the arrival of the new millennium as so many predicted it would, but it did for us. Grandfather only made it in a couple of weeks. Perhaps it really was the end of the world. What mother had failed to realize was that divorce existed between two adults, not children, and that death could not erase the life that remained. In our house, however, that is exactly what happened. Life ceased to exist, and the raspberry carton sat empty for many years.
Back on the park bench, I began examining the container of tempting fruit. It was not necessary for me to count them to know that they would satisfy my hunger, but I still did not move to eat them. Instead, I removed one berry from its place and tossed it onto the ground in front of me.
“What was that for?” the male travel companion asked me.
“Release,” I replied, when no other reason came to mind.
I knew what I was doing, of course, and I knew what would come next. Sure enough, a small bird from a neighboring tree came down and hopped towards the berry. After examining it for a moment, as if it too had been scarred by dissipating country kiosks, the bird took the plump berry in its mouth and fled towards a safer place to enjoy the sacred treasure. I smiled, feeling like I was off to a positive start of some great adventure.
I tossed another berry to the ground – for grandfather who left our family broken and weak. And another berry – for mother who made us grow up too soon. And still another berry – for the many nights I was left alone in the darkness. Again a bird came. Before long, there were five. The other travelers started to get in on what they thought was an exciting moment, but for me it was so much more. This was a form of therapy I was not even aware existed.
After half of the carton had been emptied, I took the liberty to pop a crimson red raspberry into my mouth. I took my time chewing, letting the sweet liquid run down my throat. I had not tasted something so sweet, so juicy, in many years. In that moment, I was a born again raspberry lover. I managed to consume a few more berries before leaving the remainder with the birds to enjoy.
My companions wanted to carry on, and on we went. We headed down a paved walk alongside Lac d’Annecy, moving towards a sandy beach that charged two euro to sit on. We paid the fee and ventured onto the beach, letting our toes sink ever so slightly into the warm sand as we walked. I had no intention of swimming, so I sat out with another girl as the others went into the water for a dip away from the heat.
Sitting back on the beach, I witnessed something beautiful. The sky was a clear blue, and the wind was so faint that it did not appear to exist at all. Boats glided on the sparkling water as if it were meant to be done in that exact fashion. The farmer’s market was still open across the lake. I could smell a distant scent of bread, and somewhere there was a man selling cartons of fruit to passersby.
Despite the beauty of the old town, my mind was stuck on the raspberries. The situation on the bench helped me to understand that I would one day move beyond my discombobulated thoughts as to why we stopped buying raspberries, just as I had moved beyond refusing to eat them because of it. They were much too delicious to not eat.
As I shifted my eyes to the right, I noticed a small bird in the distance exiting the park. I was certain there was a raspberry in its mouth, and I felt something that had been hidden for many years. Peace.
[Copyright: Jenna Miller]
Any advice on the short story from fellow writers out there?