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 The Raisin Farm

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APPRENTICE (6-25 posts)
APPRENTICE (6-25 posts)

Posts : 17
Join date : 2013-02-21

PostSubject: The Raisin Farm   Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:20 am

The Raisin Farm

There is a beautiful country, rich with date palms and sugar cane that grow along the riverbank. In this land, the sun is warm enough to dry up the mud and the people living in the villages along the marshy swamps – teeming with egrets and crocodiles – build bricks from it. That is how they make their houses, from mud.

In one of these villages there once lived a woman who is now old, whose husband is now dead, and whose seven-or-so children are now grown with children and even grandchildren of their own. She has a jovial son who works on a raisin farm and sings light-heartedly to himself as he tends his raisins. He has bought his little Daughter With Wiry Hair a donkey. This Raisin Farmer has a sister who lives in a purple house full of white flowers. Hanging on one of the walls of this purple house is a picture of an older gentleman with rather large spectacles and a frosty beard. His face looks as though it has been turned to stone. Her young daughters revere him so much so that you take him to be their grandfather.

“Who is that?” you ask the girls. “Is that your grandfather?”

“Oh, that is our Commander,” the woman cuts in, in a tone that is quite protective of him. Perhaps she is afraid you will say something not-so-nice about him. “He is from our own country, but he left long ago to fight the war.”

“Is he ever coming back?”

“No,” a perverted smile spreads delicately across her face as she is warmed inside by the Spirit of Death. “He will never come back. That is not his way. He will die in battle.”

You may rescind a bit, knowing this man to be very unwell because you can see that his face is as hot red as a beet as he burns up inside from Anger. If you saw him up close and he opened his mouth just a little bit, you could look inside him to see that on the inside he is completely charred out and blackened from Anger. But it is of no consequence. You accept the fact that they like the Commander, and figure that it must have something to do with their eyes.

Their eyes probably should have been brown, but instead they are frosted over and gray because they have turned to metal. Some people’s eyes in this land are frostier than others, and the Commander has the frostiest eyes of all. (This is why he has to wear glasses, because his eyes are very bad. He is a Blind Guide).

“Why have your eyes turned to metal?” you ask your friend. “How can you see anything with them?”

“What do you mean?” she shakes her head. “Our eyes aren’t metal.”

The day seems calm enough … a muggy summer morning, it might be, and warm. You like the warmth well enough, until you realize that it comes from Anger. That is the source of heat in some parts of the land, though in others it actually does come from the sun. As you walk down the street, you notice red clouds coming from everyone’s mouths in puffs. It is Anger. Even as they greet each other with words like “peace” and “welcome” (whose real meanings have long since been lost because their dictionaries have all dried up and turned to dust long ago) these words are ejected from their mouths in fumes of Anger. They use many words now that they don’t know what they mean, all in puffs of little red clouds.

“Where did all this Anger come from? Has it always been this way?” you ask.

“Not always,” the woman tells you, and she is smiling. “We bought it for the Revolution.”

“But where does it come from?”

She takes you out to the riverbank to show you, proudly pointing.

“When we drink from the river, it turns to Anger inside of us.”

That is when you wrinkle your nose in horror and disgust at the metallic stench, realizing that the river doesn’t flow with water as it should. It has turned to blood.

“But … but … the river is full of blood,” you try to tell her. “That Anger you breathe …. It comes from the spirit of Murder and Bloodshed you drink.”

For a moment she seems sobered, but then shakes her head slightly indicating that she doesn’t fully understand. One can see no colors with metal eyes, after all, and you don’t expect her to be able to tell that the river is red, the color of blood.

So the two of you board a bus and go for a very long bus ride through villages and past canals that stink from the blood they’ve turned to. Other canals have dwindled and dried up and turned to sand. There are also piles of bricks along the road.

“What are those piles of bricks?” you ask, pointing out the bus window. “They are so large.”

“Oh, that is our Pride,” she smiles.

“Your pride? But they are just piles of bricks.”

“Nonsense! That is our Pride. Our ancestors stacked them up a long time ago to reach heaven. See, in the distance you can see the inscription on the outside that says ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’ We are still very Proud.”

You nod uneasily as you notice that the sky is growing grayer and grayer and the road is narrowing and becoming consumed in a sort of fog. The tall buildings in the city are covered in grime. It is the soot from the fires of all the dead bodies that were burned there. On the top of each tall building, you can see many Ugly and Hideous Creatures, all with fangs dripping with blood. Every building is either brown or gray, and very dirty. But your friend notices none of this. Everything seen with metal eyes is brown or gray, so why would the buildings be any different?

“Where are we going?” you ask.

“To the Raisin Farm.”

The sky has now turned very gray and the whole Raisin Farm is veiled in mist. You wonder how anyone can see anything at all there. The farm is fenced in by cardboard walls that cage in the perimeter, though some are soggy and beginning to give way and slide into the mud.

“Welcome to the Raisin Farm!”

You see the Raisin Farmer bounding up towards you with a big smile and a shovel in his hand. He has been hard at work digging around his raisin trees and fertilizing them. You can tell because he has deep calluses on his hands. He raises them to show you. His Daughter With Wiry Hair rides a donkey around the farm, picking raisins and gathering them in her little basket, which is woven of palm fronds.

“We are very, very proud of our raisin farm,” your friend tells you earnestly. “It is our Pride.”

With that, they welcome you beneath the sheltering that hides them from the dreary mist of Sadness – built also of palm fronds and poles made of sugar cane. They sit you down and offer you hot, sugary tea and slimy soup that looks to be made of grass. The Raisin Farmer puts a big platter of raisins in front of you for you to try, then sits back waiting for your reaction.
“They’re good,” you say politely, though actually they are a bit dry and tasteless – not the best raisins you have tasted before.
“Thank you,” he beams. “We are very, very proud of our raisins. They are our Pride.”
The Raisin Farmer’s wife comes in with a heavy sigh. She is wearing black, as she always does. In the city you had noticed that many women in this land wear black all the time, and you wonder why that is but you don’t feel the courage to ask. She also has black eyes, and she looks at you with a bit of Hostility. You are all sitting around having a nice time with your tea, insides warmed despite the fog. As the Raisin Farmer is smiling (and his wife is not) you make a comment about the cardboard walls. The smile does not fade from his cheerful face, which swells with a healthy color almost as dark as a raisin, and he tells you, very proudly,
“Yes, we built those walls to protect the raisin crop from the hailstorm.”
“But they’re cardboard.”
“They’re good enough. That is what they told us to do in case the Plague of Hail strikes us. See, a long time ago the Plague of Hail came and so from then on our ancestors warned us to be prepared for when it happens again. They told us to be ready for it.”
Indeed, you had noticed that on some nights they would sit around the radio listening to people retell graphic visions they’d seen of the Plague of Hail, in their dreams or in their wakefulness, it doesn’t matter. They would mutter things to themselves like, “Alas for the day is near, a day of clouds, covered in darkness!” The stories were so terrifying that the radio smoked and sizzled.
“Your raisin farm is very fragile, then. Aren’t you afraid,” you say, pouring yourself another cup of hot, sugary tea, “that when the Plague of Hail comes it will knock down your cardboard fences and the lightening will strike each one of your raisin trees and slice them down the middle and destroy your raisin crop?”
All three heads – the Raisin Farmer, his wife, and his sister – all jerk back at once. They have been knocked off their marble pillars just a bit, but they get right back up again and climb back onto them.
“Nn …no,” the Raisin Farmer says assuredly. “That’s not what they told us. They told us the cardboard walls are good, they are enough …”
The Raisin Farmer’s wife clears away the dishes, sighing heavily because she must have many rocks in her heart. As you help her, you ask,
“Do you like your life at the Raisin Farm?”
She nods wordlessly, nearly refusing to speak to you. As you leave the kitchen, for the first time you notice a little girl lying on a plastic mat on the floor. She must be very sick and doesn’t move.
“What’s wrong with your little girl?” you ask the Raisin Farmer’s wife, surprised.
She stares down at the floor sadly, then answers in a very soft voice,
“She was born without eyes.”
Everyone in the room is silent. You wonder what the difference is, since their eyes are all frosted over and turned to metal anyway, but in any case it seems to bother them. You also notice that the Raisin Farmer’s family hangs a picture of the Commander respectfully in their house just as your friend does, and they go on to tell you that the Commander – in spite of what you might hear – is a very good man and in fact grew the best raisins of all. He is famous for them. And he loves the Revolution. You nod politely, but in your heart all you feel is fear that very suddenly without warning hail stones mixed with fire and lightening will come pelting him from the sky and crush him and burn him to bits, because you can tell that he is nowhere near ready for the Plague, either, with his cardboard walls. It could happen even as he leans forward in his chair thrusting his finger about Cursing, because he is so enflamed and rattled with rage. He is perhaps the most fragile one of all.
“What is this Revolution you keep talking about?” you ask.
“The Revolution of Anger, of course,” they tell you. “What do you think of it?” They are all smiles.
“I don’t know.”
They invite you back into the sitting room for another round of hot, sugary tea, where they go off about raisins and revolutions and such once more. But you turn to your friend in the silence and ask her,
“Aren’t you afraid of the Plague?”
She trembles – actually, all three of your friends tremble as though a hand has been raised above their heads and is poised to strike them – and whispers in a very hushed voice, “Oh, yes. We are afraid.”
“And didn’t your ancestors teach you that there is only one way to avert Plagues, that Plagues were only ever averted by painting your doors with blood?”
They all look at each other quizzically, then one by one shake their heads.
“No, our ancestors never said anything about that.”
“It’s true.”
The Raisin Farmer’s wife sniffs, Hostilely. “We don’t want to paint our doors with blood. That’s gross.”
“But it’s the only way to avert the Plague for sure.”
“No, that’s silly,” the Raisin Farmer says, looking at his wife and sister for reinforcement as they nod in agreement. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
The Raisin Farmer’s wife then gives a wordless thrust of her hand towards a door and clearly wants you to open it. You do, and find yourself descending down a very steep staircase in a dark corridor with her following behind you at your heals as her black clothes flow in the current of stale air. She is sighing again, and it must pain her around all the rocks in her heart.
You eventually find yourself in a small room that is very dark and cold as a tomb, and sitting across from you in a line on a hard slab of stone like a bench are three characters similarly robed in black. They are staring down at the ground – which is also made of stone – but when you and the Raisin Farmer’s wife walk inside the door all three of them look up at once. You shudder. Their faces are hideous – too hideous to describe – and they all stick out their long tongues and utter a string of nonsense words. With each syllable, frogs leap from their mouths until the whole room is alive with frogs. They multiply, jamming the room from wall to wall as they croak and leap across the floor and all pile up on top of each other in heaps.
“What is this?” you ask.
“The Plague of Frogs,” she tells you sadly. “They are Curses and Insults. They come here to revile me.”
“What are they saying? Can you understand them?”
She nods sadly, wiping a tear from her eye.
“We don’t have to stay here,” you say.
“Yes, we do,” she nods.
“My sister-in-law went home, and my husband went out to look for another wife.”
“What about your children?”
“It’s no use, they will die,” she says surely. “My daughter has no eyes, she will die. And my husband took the rest of the children with him.”
You rattle the door handle, but it is, indeed, to no avail because it is locked. You are determined enough to break the door down so you kick it with all your might, then reach out to take the Raisin Farmer’s wife by the hand and climb back up the stairs with her. That is when you notice, surprised, that she only has one hand.
“You only have one hand?”
“Yes. That is my Deficiency. I am Deficient. When I got put together, I came out Lacking.”
She sighs again.
“Do the Frogs tell you that?”
“They do.”
Finally you see the light of day, and the Raisin Farmer’s sister is upset at you for taking so long. It is a long bus ride back to the city, and you will be late. It will be night by the time you get back to the city and the city is not a very nice place at night. No one speaks much on the ride back, but you do pass by a few stacks of garbage. People are sitting in it, up to their waists in garbage, and the donkeys and goats feed on it.
“Will you come with us to the Revolution?” your friend asks you.
“No, thanks,” you say. You have seen what the Revolution looks like, roughly. You know that it is where people yell and scream in very loud voices and throw garbage at each other, and it doesn’t sound very nice to you. Besides all that, the people at the Revolution have drunk so much blood that Anger spills from their mouths not just in puffs of red smoke but in rivers of blood gushing forth from their mouths as though a dam burst.
From the bus window you watch as you are passing one such neighborhood full of garbage and debris. A few children run across the street, in front of the bus, and pelt each other with mud and dust and chase each other with sticks. One little boy sticks his tongue out at you and yells a Curse. A small frog leaps from his mouth, because he is a small boy with a small mouth that can only fit a small frog.
An old house is being torn down and lies as a pile of dilapidated and discarded bricks that lie in ruins. They have all crumbled to dust. You know this house: this is the house of the surviving family members of that Man Who Wore Fire as a Suit. It is a very vile story, how Satan entered into him and he wrapped himself all up in fire and leapt madly from the top of a tall tower and burned a big black hole in the sky. It started a fire that burned for acres and acres in all directions so that he and all the people and animals for miles died. Yes, it is an awful, awful story.
The demolition crew is hard at work on that house, and so are the construction workers, because they are rebuilding it. They’ve carved the roof into the smooth contours of a dome and stuck a golden cross on top of it that doesn’t need to reflect the sunlight because it is full of a light of its own: they are turning it into a church, because that is how the Architect designed it. That house? It is almost too wonderful to be true.
And someone is singing a song somewhere in the distance: Holy Spirit, come. Revive, rebuild, restore. Destroy every foundation that isn’t of you. Yes, destroy every foundation that isn’t of you. And your heart twists up inside of you and burns because you are so overcome with amazement.
You get off the bus in sort of a daze, because you’ve arrived at a bus depot in some neighborhood you don’t know. It is getting dark, and strangely cold. Your friend is gone, and in fact everyone you know is gone. You look about you, quite lost and confused. All around there is chaos and people pushing and shoving each other with colorful painted carts trying to sell things. One of them is an orange seller whose oranges are all arranged in a teetering triangle. The oranges come spilling down to the ground when someone accidentally bumps into him. He yells a Curse, and at that each orange bursts open to reveal that they are full of tiny frog eggs that hatch into a million tiny frogs.
Where are you?
You are about to sit on a bench and contemplate for a moment, and perhaps feel Sorry for Yourself, but then an old man approaches you with a lightness to his gait and a big smile.
“Welcome! We’ve been expecting you.”
You think you recognize him from seeing him on TV, but you aren’t sure. He has glasses and a beard and when he opens his mouth you can see inside of him and notice that he is all made of gold.
He gives you two thumbs up. You don’t even know what you did, but he is already congratulating you.
“You look familiar,” you tell him. “I think I may have seen you before. Maybe I know you from television.”
“Probably. Are you ready to get on the bus?” he asks.
“Where are we going?”
“To the Revolution!” He is very excited about it. At that the crowds disperse and the bus depot becomes all swallowed up in light so you can see hardly anything at all but the bus that rolls up.
“No, I don’t want to go to the Revolution,” you refuse. “It’s all about Anger, and I don’t like Anger.”
“No, no, not that Revolution, not the Revolution of Anger. The Real Revolution.”
“There’s another Revolution?”
“Of course.”
So you are hurried onto the bus by the Very Nice Old Man, who makes sure you find a seat on the back of the bus next to someone who wants to make small talk with you, who seems to like you well enough. The bus pulls up at Revolution Square, where all Revolutions take place. You see the military police holding back the demonstrators, but there is no need. All around it is very green and peaceful and no one is yelling. You’ve reached the border, and can see across the line where everything turns to sand. It is only green here in this Land of Date Palms, because it is Blessed. Just across the border everything turns to sand. Some very large obstruction stands at the border, a tower carved of white stone and too high to see the top of. It is obliterated in the clouds. And it is much higher than all those silly piles of bricks you saw.
“What is that?” you ask the Very Nice Old Man, who puts his arm around your shoulder and guides you around the Very Green and Peaceful Park, under the sunlight that seems to come from everywhere around you and not just from the sky.
“It is a Monument,” he smiles, expecting you to know what he means, though you aren’t quite sure you do.
The crowds gathered have faces covered in light, obliterated by a light that seems to pulsate from the inside of them, and all of them have real eyes not made out of metal. You suspect that if they opened their mouths and you could see inside of them, they would be made of gold inside, too. Then they all put their right hands over their hearts.
“What are they doing?” you ask.
“They are Pledging Allegiance,” he smiles and nods. “They are Pledging Allegiance to the Lord.”
“I didn’t know about this Revolution,” you shake your head in disbelief.
“Oh, yes. This is just the beginning,” he says, smiling. “All Revolutions start small, you know, but when the people are determined enough, they can knock the tyrant off the throne. It really doesn’t take much but a miracle. See how they are so Humble: they are content being a lowly kingdom, the lowliest of all kingdoms, and they will never exalt themselves again over any other Land. Those who walk in pride, God is able to humble.”
And you nod to him and watch the scene in satisfaction.
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