Tiny Tuscan Tale – June 2018

Tiny Tuscan Tale is a monthly flash fiction contest run by Florence Writers.  Submissions are open to all — local and international writers — and the winner will be published each month on The Sigh Press. The prompt for next Tiny Tuscan Tale in September 2018 will be on Florence Writers and you will also see information on how to enter there.

June 2018’s winner is A Song for the Grapes by Gertrude O’Grogan. 

Gertrude O’Grogan lives in the Pisan hills with a Turkish tea-seller. During her day she programs C++ so her nights are free for words. She enjoys grotto-spotting, Lambrusco and playing with orange peel.

Image: sfvineywards.com

A Song for the Grapes

by Gertrude O’Grogan.

The wine in my glass quivered as the fireworks exploded above.

“Look, mummy,” whispered a boy nearby. “That lady’s drink is shaking. It must be scared.”

“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?” I smiled, draining the entire glass. “All safe.”

The child looked stunned. It had been a rather ample glass and now a crimson droplet was dribbling down my chin.  

“Watch the fireworks, dear,” said his mother, throwing me a dirty glance.  

I turned away to wipe my chin. I had meant to be theatric but vampiric seemed more adept. Embarrassed,  I began running my finger around the rim of my empty glass so a dainty hum began echoing inside its crystal well.  

It reminded me of my father during his days as an old Vinaio. 

“We must play music to the vines,” he had insisted after every meal. “Give back to the grapes who give us so much in return.” 

I could still see him now. The songful grace of his beaten hands as he serenaded the Chianti vineyards; the lilt of crystal chalices enchanting all the fireflies hovering overhead.

By now the fireworks were finished and I had successfully managed to acquire an assortment of glasses in various stages of abandonment. I began to play them all at once until I found myself amidst what could only be described as a wineglass concerto. A melody so mellifluous I do believe that the cherubic infants in the frescoed chapel nearby immediately began plucking at their harp strings in a show of paean pleasure.

Suddenly, however, there came an almighty howl;  a thousand-and-one wolves calling out from the Apuan Alps. But they weren’t wolves at all. Just hounds with slicked tongues. Ploughing through the gathering, gobbling up uneaten cake.  Upturning chairs. Spinning spoons with their paws. 

“Stop playing at once,” shouted the host of the party with the thrust of a well-licked fork. “They are destroying everything.”

I obliged immediately. Well-licked forks should not be trifled with.

But the dogs did not retreat. They simply heeled at my feet. Their tails keeping tempo; ears cocked for another song.

“Play again,” urged the little boy.

I touched my glass delicately, orbiting my finger in pursuit of a pure C, when lo amongst the stars did those dogs begin to sing. A chorus of sublime harmonies, snouts tilted to the skies. Singing unmistakably, and in perfect harmony, the Flower Duetchorus by Delibes. 

At the end of the performance, not a dry eye could be found.

“Magnificent,” clapped the host in an unexpected turn. “Could they play again next Saturday? A party out Siena way.”

I gazed down at my new companions. Scrawny, unkempt coats, famished eyes, taut, ribbed bellies.

“They will need payment in advance. Fresh cuts and juicy bones.”

“Absolutely,” he replied eagerly. ”Just to tell me where they live.”

Once more I gazed into their wet, pleading eyes and thought of my little cottage swathed in summer grass. 

“Why, with me, of course.”