We wouldn’t be in season for a while and we knew it. The farmers took extra care with us, nursing us to health and pumping us full of artificial juices that made us plump. We heard stories of those who came before us that dangled heavily—proudly—off of their vines. Supposedly for them it was effortless. I had a brown dimple on my rear that everyone made fun of, all those fancy elixirs they gave me and still it wasn’t enough. I was pushed up against the net, huddled with other grapes I’ve come to call my friends. There was some arguing and rustling above me. Some of us got lucky with who we sprouted next to, but Goe and Ghap despised each other.

A boy with no eyebrows roared toward us, clicking his tongue and stomping across the white tile with his muddy red sneakers. He reached toward our net hungrily, plucking and fraying the edges and touching us with his sticky fingers. We all waited silently, even Ghap and Goe. Shopping carts rumbled past, almost in rhythm with the child’s labored breath as he stared. Suddenly, I was between his fingertips, and my body was ripped straight off the vine. I thought to scream. I involuntarily writhed in his grasp, but he didn’t seem to care. A woman in all dark attire slipped her arm under the boy’s and dragged him ahead, the impact causing him to lose his tight grip on me. I was relieved, then cold.

There were so many types of shoes; the farmers only wore boots in black or brown. There were sharp, shiny kinds, or ones with flat round tops in multiple colors. Some were hollow, with holes for toes and cloth. A shopping cart wheel caked in dust and grime narrowly missed me, and then something furry approached. I looked up into its eyes—I’ve seen something like this before. My bunch and I were laying limp in a cement room, and through the gaps in our turquoise bucket I saw a moving picture in front of a man in a red apron. There were fuzzy four-legged creatures in the picture dancing, singing, and drinking milk.

The fluffy thing looked at me curiously with its big green eyes.

“Do you sing?” I asked. The only response I got was a blink, and then it started to lean down towards me. Three huffs against my side, rough and warm. A gold, jingling circle attached to a pink strip of cloth caught my eye. Marjorie, it said.

“Is that what you are? A “Marjorie?” I asked again. The Marjorie took no notice, and it opened its mouth. I tried to protest but it was no use. The thing suspended me between its teeth gently, and then the ground passed by us much quicker. We weaved through aisles of bright boxes and people with green baskets hanging off their arms. A man like the one in the cement room rounded the corner, the broom in his hands swatting wildly at us. The Marjorie bounded forward, easily gliding past him and his gritted teeth.

Big glass doors slid open and we snaked through, following a woman’s spiked shoes. A soft breeze tickled my skin, one side of me caressed in the thing’s mouth and the other prickling with life at the wind’s sensation. There was peace for a moment, then motion again. The gray asphalt below the creature’s white feet turned into a vast expanse of grass. It continued like that for a while: passing trees, frail blossoms of flowers and plush grass.

Oh, how I’ve missed that endless blue stretch of the world’s ceiling. Everything was tranquil now, and the Marjorie lowered its head down to the soil and unclasped its teeth, causing me to roll onto the dirt softly. It seemed that we might be at the edge of the earth.

“What is this place?” I said. Below us, farther than I’ve ever been able to see, there were rows of geometric shapes and lights. The big light in the world’s ceiling had fallen now, rolling down the landscape like a droplet of water. The Marjorie began to lick itself, strands of white hair getting caught on its tongue. It paused after a few licks and then curled into a ball, wrapping the long coil from its back around its body. There was a brown spot on its hind leg.

“You have a brown dimple too,” I exclaimed, “everybody said I was the only one!” The Marjorie shut its eyes tight and a low rumble came from its body. The blue above me now morphed into many colors—pinks and purples and oranges. I hadn’t seen it since I had lived in the vineyard.

“Thank you for bringing me here. I don’t understand it, but it’s beautiful,” the thing that looked like it was sewn from fleece and wool rumbled louder.

I thought of my bunch, how they might never feel this cool air on their skin again. When we were in the cement room, we’d watch bundles, just like us, come back brown and shriveled and then thoughtlessly discarded. We didn’t know how long it would take to become like those old bundles. Those who ended up in that form never lived to tell the tale. One of my vinemates, Gippy, worried about it constantly.

Sometimes his fears would get to me too, terrified to end up like one of those wilted elders in a bin. The Marjorie scooped me up and I landed in a crevice of soft fibers. Maybe I would never wilt. Maybe those poor old families of ours were discarded because they had never made a friend.

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