Weeks of obsessive tending and gentle turning ensured a blue ribbon for his biggest pumpkin next weekend. His chest puffed with impending pride as he fantasized about the envious stares of the other town folk, especially that pretty, stuck-up woman next door, who always looked through him, not at him.
The cold wind started again and he shivered, watching the sky darken too quickly. As bright, painted leaves rained on his crop, he instinctively turned his head toward an infant's cry. At the top of the hill, under the old Maple, his stuck-up neighbor was shielding a bundle from the wind, fumbling with her blouse...
Here is my story:
The Pumpkins are Wrathful
Joad stroked the pumpkin that was his pride and joy. He crouched, gazing across his field of fine crops that migrant workers had tended during the long hours under the baking sun. He was obsessed… driven, but it would all be worth it to see his pumpkin… HIS pumpkin… take first prize. His neighbor, Ms. Rose… once Mrs. Rose, would be impressed. She’d regret her snide remarks. What would she do when he won? Her husband was dead. She needed a protector. He could be that man.
As the sun was setting, a second sun slid high above the hills casting a green hue across the land. He ignored it. That was to be expected. She’d never given in without a fight. It was part of what he liked about her. Her fiery temper was hot and slick, and he had no doubt more would be coming.
A cold wind started. It blew painted leaves across the ground. They were purple. He ignored them too. Perhaps, he should have gone with a vineyard. No… too obvious. Besides, he liked the metaphor of the pumpkin and size. Hopefully, she would go along with that.
An infant’s cry pulled his gaze to the maple that separated their properties. Mrs. Rose… no… Ms. Rose was there fumbling with her blouse as she held a bundle against her chest. Would she do it? Some part of him was… well… disappointed that she’d given in so easily.
Then, the alien child burst from her chest snarling.
Joad sighed. Perhaps, he could ignore this too, and she’d get back into character momentarily.
The alien child scrambled up her chest and began choking her. Rose fell to the ground, writhing, and making gurgling noises.
“End Theater Simulation,” he called, standing up. Rubbing his face, Josh walked toward Ellie in the large green screen theater. His footsteps echoed against cyber mural screens on all sides which pulsed in anticipation. “Ellie… what the hell was that? We agreed it was my turn to pick the play this Friday. My turn.”
She stood up and smoothed her lycra suit down. “You went too far, Josh.” Gesturing down at herself, she said, “These breasts are not feeders. They’re perfect just as they are. Plus, don’t think I didn’t know where you were going with that. Rose? She was the chick at the end of Grapes of Wrath that ends up breastfeeding that old guy. I’m not playing out this sick fantasy of yours just so you can get your rocks off over Steinbeck.”
“I was King Arthur last Friday.”
“No… you were Lancelot,” she said, raising an elegantly sculpted eyebrow. “Lancelot gets the girl in the end, remember?” Ellie crossed her arms over the aforementioned breasts and smiled. Tossing her shoulder-length black hair, she took a few steps forward. Damn… but she looked good in lycra. Hot… very hot. She pressed her mouth against his briefly before stepping back. “Well, lover, it’s your choice. I’m telling you now, though, that this Joad fellow will not be getting Ms. Rose. I knew that from the moment my stage directions hung in front of me with that whole breastfeeding business.”
“It was a symbolic metaphor,” he said defensively.
Ellie grinned. “As was your pumpkin’s size. Yes… I know.” Coughing, she commented, “That pumpkin was exceptionally large, Josh.”
“Yeah… it was,” he admitted, grinning too. Then, he sighed and asked, “If I cut the breastfeeding business?”
She shrugged, wrapped her arms around his neck, and rubbed her body against his. This was why she won all their arguments. Her date plays typically were much more exuberant than his. He liked that vitality about her.
“You’re not really going to make us go to a State Fair, are you?” she asked, wrinkling her nose. “I seem to remember your pigs and horses actually have a very realistic odor. I don’t know how or why you do it.”
“It’s the experience…. It’s supposed to be like real life,” he complained. He prided himself on that aspect of his simulated play. It should be realistic. Sound effects were always slightly over-blown, but that seemed acceptable in his mind.
“Josh…,” she whined.
He relented as he always did. “Okay… no Fair. I want to keep the pumpkin, though.”
“If you need that as a… prop.” Ellie rolled her blue eyes and smoothed the lycra down her body again. She looked so great in green. Glancing up, she caught him admiring her, and a sly smile slid across her face. “Okay… no breastfeeding and give me a name that doesn’t make me feel downtrodden.”
“No one would dare trod you down.” Josh smiled and rubbed a hand through his light hair as he rethought the play. He wanted a classic. Moby Dick maybe? He thought of her comments on the pumpkin. Maybe not. He put his hand to the earpiece and pressed the ‘record’ button. The field spun around them as before, though it was drier and a faint smell of smoke hung in the air.
She was dressed in a lacy, scarlet gown that she looked over fastidiously.
He was dressed in a riding uniform, and an enormous black horse grazed nearby. In back of them, a beautiful white plantation house scrubbed the sky. In deference to his girlfriend, he made the horse unscented. Hopefully, she appreciated this as it was definitely a compromise on his theatrical principles.
“Ahh… I see our metaphorical pumpkin made the jump,” she said, looking down at the giant pumpkin.
She tapped one of her pale fingers against her red lips. If she saw more of the actual sun, she might not be so pale. She was beautiful, regardless. He saw the moment the script he’d built in his mind hung in the air between them. Scrolling her eyes through the words that only she could see, Ellie tilted her head, considering.
Hopefully, she approved, but frankly… he didn’t give a damn.