The Feel Of An Olive Pit

Award-winning artist I specialize in dog portraits and scenes in watercolor, and historic themes in oils. My passion for animals, both real and symbolic, prompted me to get a Ph.d in Medieval History ... [+]

Image of Short Story
Her fingers are now knurled like the branches of an oak tree in winter. Those once graceful hands, united her with piano keys, and paint brushes to create an impact of her life and living is now a distant memory, lingering but some moments lurking, like hidden demons jeering at those images and attempting, however fruitless, to eliminate her past.

Now those curled fingers surrender to time. Any sensation or feeling is applauded, appreciated, as she twirls the small olive pit. She is a visionary but her past life now surrenders to her present life of going blind.

She caresses the small object as if to understand its use or maybe more to make some connection with its size and shape.
It has been four decades since she fingered them. They remained a cluster of beads once strung together with a thread, now dissolved by time and hidden in a locked drawer.

Why did she unlock that today and take out a shoebox of assorted objects. She listens to a familiar piece of Satie as she presses her thumb and index finger together, but without realizing, her motion is synchronized to the music.

Instead of dwelling on her lack of sight, she forces herself to focus on the unseen objects and the memories they can ignite. As if some unknown force is at work, the classical station bursts out Verdi’s Requiem with its highs and lows seem to reflect her inner feelings, of joy and sorrow, as she rolls her two fingers around the small object.

Suddenly she feels a small point in the otherwise smooth pit, with two small indentations.

“Oh yes” she blurts out smiling to herself.

“What a day that was” she says as her giggle echoes in her room, full of memorabilia, but empty of any human presence.

As if some invisible button is pushed, her memories are launched into another space. She remembers her sadness when she kissed her children, and entrusted them to her husband and the nanny, before leaving Italy’s medieval town in the Umbrian hills for an assignment in Tokyo.

She rented a place for the duration of the Spoleto Festival with the sole intention of immersing her family into the arts offerings which consoled her during the over two hour trip to the Rome Airport.

“But you are NOT Italian” said the statuesque woman behind the Alitalia ticket counter” which prompted a chill of fear.

“The arrangements were made by my employer,” she explained.

“You might be turned back in Tokyo as you do not have a visa”.

Suddenly the door bell rings and the sound of a key clicks and the door opens.

“Is that you dear,” she asks while struggling to rise from the wing back chair.

You are smiling Mother what’s so funny?” her son asks as hethrows downhis brief case on a sunken sofa near by.

“I was just fingering some beads and so many memories came to mind. I’ll share them if you want to listen”.

“Remember I told you when I went to Tokyo and the hijacking?”

“Yes, I was in Spoleto.”
“Yes and I was the last to enter business class already filled with men before that announcement from the pilot”

“We will not deplane here in Bangkok as programmed. We have hijackers”, announced the pilot.

She recalls her feelings of hope when she placed the headphone and heard Franz Lahar’s The Merry Widow waltz. She danced a speciality number at the Westchester Country Club summer variety show, and photographed behind the scenes of the same operetta decades later in Spoleto. The music became her communication with the higher source.

“Suddenly the man beside me slumped over as if dead. I crawled to the front of business class incase the hijackers, supposedly way in the back, could see me. I asked quietly if there was a doctor”.

“Fortunately there was a French doctor who crawled back to the now empty seat next to the head of Mathematics department at Kyoto University, pulled down his closed eyes, took his pulse and gave him a shot of something. I asked him to write it down and pulled out my hair pin and attached it to his passport before he was taken from the plane”.

“I don’t remember any of that” her now 40 year old son says as he fingers the gold lock of his brief case.

“ I didn’t tell you about the scariest thing that happened those days. It was when I saw scaffolding going up for photographers to get pictures of the plane exploding. Being a prisoner without any freedom made me understand the value of liberty.”

“No I never heard that. But I remember the time you got off the plane and didn’t call us until you saw your seatmate in the hospital and wrote your news story for the wire service. I was mad at you,” he said while taking out papers from his case.

She sits twisting and twirling her beads, now feeling the cracks in the small-sculpted faces.

“When I got off the plane, I missed my deadline and was put on another plane to Hong Kong, the next assignment. I had time to see a bit of Bangkok. I went to the Temple and met a Buddhist monk. We spoke for an hour and at the end, he took the beads from his pocket, placed them in my cupped hands before he clasped his hands in prayer and bowed.”