Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Monday, 5 August 2013

‘Vine Leaves’

Vineleaves“Friends,” said Anna rising to toast her guests, “on nights like this, Shakespearian lovers mused on ancient Troy, sighing how the wind kissed the trees but they made no sound”.

“Meanwhile”, said her partner  Dennis, “less than seven hundred miles from where we’re dining now in deepest rural Greece, citizens of biblical Israel yearned to sit under their own vines and fig trees – symbolic of an harmonious well-being never wholly realised”.

“Perhaps so”, said Mona,  a rabbi  from New York. “Study of the Hebrew bible shows time and again how lasting peace has been achieved only by totally annihilating the opposition!

“But”, she laughed, “a Saturday evening’s secular entertainment like this, in a vine trellised arbour like yours,  would be possible only after the Sabbath concluded. By then, the devout  would have  detected three stars in the darkened sky and blessed the new week with candlelight and sweet spice in a ritual shielding the holiness of the day of rest from the mundanities of the working week.

“I first visited the area as a student during the early 1960s with a non-Jewish friend who is now a respected  Christian theologian.

She was wholly captivated from the first by many local customs, some of which reminded her of what she often saw when in my company. I ponder still, as modern Judaism developed, if it adopted universally popular Mediterranean habits and hallowed them by dogged daily use”.

“I’ve lived here for much of my adult life,” said Joe, a travel writer. “But my knowledge of local religious practice is still superficial.

“Instead, I’m eternally spellbound by these islands’ capacity for physical enchantment and will always treasure  their aura of ecstatic sensuality. No wonder tiny villages like Kalami in Corfu continue to attract romantic artists  and their adoring fans.

“I’m now aged 72 and still get a kick from witnessing the quite brazen procreation all around us! Everything - everyone – simply  pulsates with life and the potential of life. So unless it’s proven otherwise, I’ll die convinced these islands were the true and first  Eden”.

“But what of our younger guests, Aron and Emily? You’ve both been very quiet,” said Anna, now serving traditional desserts with thick, bitter coffee and Ouzo.

“Er, apologies for not joining the conversation,” said Aron. “Our bedroom window looks over a pond filled with frogs which woo lustily all night long. They’ve -  well, we’ve not  – had much sleep!”.

Vineleaves.Terrace“Thanks for the wonderful food, Anna,” said Emily. “I’ve tried all the dishes here and if you don’t mind, I’d love to have the recipe for stuffed vine leaves.

“I’ll be using vines as a theme in a piece for a creative writing course I’m beginning in October and have heard that a ‘vignette’ is not only a decoration in  a book or  a ‘snapshot in words’. Apparently,  the term  began as ‘something that may be written on a vine leaf’. It’s supposed to focus on one element of a story, mood, character, setting, object, or perhaps in good hands, a rare blend of them all”.

“I know exactly what Joe meant earlier, said Anna’s mother, Carmel,  who’d just come home.

“On nights like this”, she said drawing up a chair, “when the weather  was almost too hot to bear,  my late husband, David  and I used the same room where Emily and Aron are - not sleeping this week!

“It’s secluded, so we’d drag the mattress onto the balcony where we’d make a love as dense as the overhanging vines, trembling like two tender  leaves in a freak summer storm. We never spoke, it was as though the mood would shrivel – blow away – from a gust of mere speech.

“Later,” she concluded, her large grey eyes laden with  regret,  “as we cuddled in devoted silence, David would fall asleep, his head resting against my bosom. So I’d lie still as a rock for hours, loath to have him stir. The next year Anna was born”.

Natalie Wood

(Copyright, Natalie Irene Wood – 06 August 2013)

Post a Comment