Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shanghai as an Orchard

Shanghai was an orchard of great trees bearing great fruit, reaching high into the clouds. I walked along the groves for miles, unable to find an end. I made my home in a place where the grovesmen of the orchard made their homes. One grovesman, old and kindly in face, let me live in the storeyard where he gathered fruit. Each night I slept with the sour smell of ripening fruit in my nostrils. Each day the grovesman showed me how to choose the rotten ones from the others, and soon, I became an adept laborer.

One day, while sorting out the rotten fruit, I saw a woman gathering my refuse which I had placed outside the storeyard. I asked her what she was doing, and she said that she was collecting them for her self and that she didn’t mind the rotten ones. Her teeth shone with a strange brightness. Her eyes pierced me strangely. She filled me with suspicion. So I followed her when she left with her basket of rotten fruit.

I arrived at a massive warehouse fashioned from the hollowed trunk of a great tree that had fallen. Following her inside, I saw hundreds of laborers all polishing rotten fruit, making it gleam, readying it for sale, loading it up on trucks to take it far away from the grove. I was shocked. I found her and asked her why she did what she did.

She said it was what she had to do. Everyone else was doing so.

“And the old man?” I said.

“Him? You are living with an old fool, a man who lost his family long ago. He keeps the good fruit for himself.”

I studied her face, reassured with a pride I couldn’t penetrate. She added with her flashing teeth, “That fruit won’t last forever.”

“Why not?”

“Because the trees are dying.”

I was taken aback and full of confusion. She sighed with disdain, then took my hand. She led me in silence out of the warehouse to the nearest tree, stretching high towards the sky. She hit it with her fist and it rung with an eerie hollow. As it reverberated, I could feel my heart falling.

posted by ferret at 5:47 pm  

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