Wrath of Grape
Joanne Faries

I had suspicions, but Luc coughed twice, our signal to rendezvous tonight under the bridge. I strolled with my sister and raised my voice, "What a lovely day." A stolen glance, sideways, let me see his nod and he discreetly flashed eight fingers.   

Oblivious, Carrie responded, "Are you crazy? It's too busy. Lots to stomp. We better get back to work." We scurried to the factory to finish our shift. Time dragged and I daydreamed about Luc - how we met as art majors in college, read poetry aloud, and welded huge sculptures.   

Then ka-pow, plague swept Earth, and we had to answer to a new economy and dynamic. Upheaval and panic spread, but somehow Luc and I, our resolve to be together, sustained us until forced separation. His last words, "No rhyme, no reason" haunted me.   

Those who survived had to return home - me to California, Luc to Georgia. From there we were transported to Planet Betty (a hidden government development), everyone segregated by food specialty. That became our labor, our life. Luc's family state, a subgroup of proteins, churned peanut butter. My clan represented grapes - jelly and wine. Families received weekly allotments of bread and we subsisted.   

Soon, the new regime allowed us to mingle in the community park on Saturdays. That's when I saw Luc again, and we arranged secret trysts. Fruits and nuts, united in love.   

Eight o'clock. Cold night with a mauve-colored moon. Under the bridge, Luc greeted me with a hesitant hug. I leaned in for a kiss, but he grimaced and pointed to my mouth. "Grape smudge."   

"So, kiss it away silly," I flirted. He declined. We sat on a blanket and I snuggled closer reaching for his hand.   

He shook free. "You're sticky."   

"Sorry. I'm in jelly world. You once delighted in my sweetness," I replied stuffing my hands in my pocket. Uncomfortable silence, until he cleared his throat.   

"Look Rachel, we've been through a lot, but in this world we can't be together. Peanut butter and jelly - that's so 21st century."   

I stomped my foot like I was mashing a barrel of grapes. "Who is she? I knew you were cheating. Who is so 22nd century?"   

"His name is Reese, and he's smooth."   

Might as well slide my heart, body, and soul through a strainer. Sort the stems of sorrow, the skin so bruised, and the seeds of hatred.  "The chocolate dude?" I asked and sighed.   

Luc stood, "It's been swell, but peanut butter and chocolate is a dreamy combination."   

I smoldered, then invoked wrath. Resolved to find a friend in strawberries to introduce to Reese. I remember chocolate covered were prized.  

First published: February 2012
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