The Ostensible Curse

[There’s no “I” in “happy,” but that’s a faulty premise for making any assumptions on what leads to being happy.  After all, there is an “I” in “happiness.”]

            I don’t know how anyone could have missed it—a peach tree that was practically unpicked.  Somehow, every other patron of this peach picking farm must have missed it.

            Wait, maybe not every other patron.

            On the other side of the tree, but about the same distance away, was an elderly woman.  She was modestly dressed, hunched over, but definitely—and I mean definitely—eyeing up this pristine peach paradise. 

            I started to sprint over, initially because I was afraid she’d beat me to the punch (or the pick).  Then I realized:

1)      She was way too short to reach any of the peaches on this particular peach tree;

2)      There was no way that hag was faster than me; and

3)      Where were my wife and kids?

None of these things—not even when taken together—ended up detering me from continuing my ridiculous pace over to the peach tree.  Naturally I beat her to the site by about thirty seconds and starting picking the fruit.  I reached high, I reached low.  I felt superhuman at this point.  By the time the old lady had waddled over, I must have plucked twenty peaches.  She fell to her knees.

“Where is it,” she shrieked, pointing to an arbitrary location on the peach tree.

“The tree?” I asked.  “It’s still here, it’s just not as bountiful anymore.”

“No, the peach, the peach,” still wagging her finger at the same spot.  “It was right there.”

“Well, I probably picked it.”

“Where is it then?  Please give it to me immediately.”

I looked down into my packed parcel and frowned.  “Which one?”

The lady sighed.  “If you can’t bestow on me the correct peach, I’ll have to take the whole bag and decide which one it is when I get home.”

“What?  No way, that’s totally unfair.  I got here and picked them first.  It’s not my fault I was the better peach-picker on this day.”  She started reaching madly, at which point I simply held the basket high above my head, like some schoolyard bully who hit his growth spurt way before anyone else.

The lady stepped back, breathing heavily.  “Very well,” she croaked as her eyes narrowed until her eyelids were but one atom apart.  “If you wish to be so attached to these peaches, I’ll do you a favor and ensure you never have to be parted from them.”

“Attached?  You’re the one demanding a particular peach, off a particular peach tree.  I’d give it to you if I knew which one you were talking about.”  But it must have been too late.  The gargoylette pulled a round, shiny stone from one of her pockets and rubbed it, chanting:

Love you have for these peaches round,

Hording them all in your basket.

So I’ll anchor you to their ground

Until they build your casket.

At that moment, gnarled wooden roots popped from the ground and wrapped around my feet.  Or maybe my feet became gnarled wooden roots—it happened so fast I couldn’t tell.  What I could tell was that my body was now intertwined with that of the peach tree.  Whether I’d start to sprout peaches was something I could only speculate at this point.

The wooden transformation stopped at my ankles, causing me to fall onto my face.  I’m sure the old hag had been cackling at me already, but now she was definitely howling with laughter.  “Could you at least make the wood go up to my waist so I can stand?”  I quickly checked myself, thinking of my wife.  “Errr, maybe like, just below the waist?  Or at the knees?  Hmmm, well whatever, I’ll make do.”

“This is a curse, you selfish moron; you don’t get to choose your fate.”  With that, she shuffled away and—bless her heart—poached my peaches, too. 

I was perplexed at this moment, though probably not as perplexed as most other people would have been in this situation.  As much as I wanted to get out, or at least see my family, I kept my cool.  You may not think it is possible to yell calmly, but that’s what I did.  “Honey?  …Honey?  Carol?”  When that didn’t work, I resorted to singing her name, throwing in random phrases of affection, which is what ultimately inspired me to begin my now successful music career.

Now I no longer wondered why this peach tree was as pristine as it was: no one ever ventured this far into the orchard…or farm, not sure.  It was a good two hours before anyone responded to my hit song “Carol.”  It wasn’t my wife, but he went and got her pretty quickly, given the unique nature of my situation. 

My wife was—understandably so—petrified when she saw my interesting state.  “Pentley, what happened?  How?”

“I beat an old witch to this productive peach tree and got all the sweet goods, so she cursed me.  Real sore loser.  But don’t worry, I have a plan.  Go build me a casket, like one you could legitimately bury me in.”  See, I was thinking; I told you I kept calm.

“Pentley!  What are you saying?  Don’t die on me.”

“No, no, I’m fine, honey.  It’s hard to explain, I think there’s a loophole here.”  To make a long story short, my wife dropped four hundred dollars on a casket and brought it all the way out to the fated peach tree/me.  Turns out there is no loophole.  I think the wording of her curse was more figurative, and I was in fact stuck here for life.  It took a week or two to get past that fact, but once I did, I got calm and started thinking again.  My hands and head were getting cut up and sore from me falling over so much, so I had Carol buy me a nice stake to lean on.  The owner of the farm even agreed to let my wife have a small house built on the property next to me, once a team of botanists, doctors, and psychic mediums determined I couldn’t be separated from the peach tree without passing on.  In exchange, I served as some money-making sideshow for his farm, which was ultimately fine with me.  I enjoyed the attention.

I must say the only truly unfortunate consequence of my situation was that, once I started sprouting peaches from the top of my head, my appetite for them was ruined.  Could you imagine eating your own kind?  I tried strawberries, oranges, and apples, but that just felt like what I imagined eating primates would be like.  On the bright side, now I could grow peaches, which everyone seemed to like. 

That brings me to the one thing I never really understood.  A curse is only a curse if you really understand the person you’re cursing, right?  There are very few universally deplorable things, if you ask me, and getting planted into the ground and having peaches poking out of your head is certainly not one of those pitiable “punishments.”  Why didn’t the witch think it over?  She only knew me for three minutes and based her curse off of something I clearly loved. 

I told her all of this the one day she returned.  Judging by her defense of the peach tree hex, it sounded like she was trying to make me eat my words, instead of my peaches.  Speaking of which, she tried to get smart and pull a peach off me, so I made it go rotten by the time she grabbed it.  I told her I was just kidding and let her take another one.  She really seemed to appreciate that.  I never found out why she needed that specific peach many years ago, but she bought one of my CDs, so I think I won this one after all.


One Comment on “The Ostensible Curse”

  1. Ohhhhhh says:

    I dig it. Just the right amount of irreverentness.

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