Saturday, March 8, 2014

#33 - Harvest Dinner - The Story

In the story Harvest Dinner, the garden has produced enough food that Bartholomew, his family, and friends can sit down to a dinner.  This is what Bartholomew had been working for since New Years.  But why is it that holidays and special events bring out the strife in people.  Dinner becomes a fight between Topping and Charlotte, this exacerbates the problems between Claire and Ned, which leads to Bartholomew arguing with Uncle Jeffrey.  Oh boy!  No one is happy.

It makes me think of a group of friends I once had.  We were all couples and no one couple was the center of the group.  But there was one couple that seemed the strongest, the healthiest in their relationship.  To everyone's surprise, the relationship was not as healthy on the inside as it appeared on the outside.  When that relationship fell apart there was a domino effect.  Other relationships fell apart, if not completely, at least to some degree.  What happens when our role models fail us?  If a relationship isn't healthy and the couple can't pull it together, then it should be ended.  But, there will be consequences, not only for the couple, but their friends, too.

It is sad.  For Bartholomew, he had finally pulled together some friends and his family to create a wonderful garden.  It was now time to eat of the fruits of their labor and to celebrate.  But no.  That damned Mayor Dick!  He's always getting in the way.

Here is an excerpt from Harvest Garden, to be published on December 30, 2011:

Bartholomew returned to the kitchen – he didn’t want to hear any more of this argument. He knew how it was going to end. He helped Aunt Josephine chop more of the vegetables he and Claire had harvested from the garden. She was going to stir fry the broccoli, tomatoes and herbs and place it on a bed of rice. She didn’t quite have the instinctual way of putting together flavors that Bartholomew’s mom did, but Aunt Josephine did know just how long to cook things to bring out their best flavors. Bartholomew was happy. He was eating food he had grown and thought was tasty and he was with his family and friends.

Voices grew louder. Aunt Josephine and Bartholomew looked at each other wondering what was going on in the living room. Suddenly there was yelling. They went to see what was the cause of this.

Charlotte and Topping were yelling at each other. This seemed incomprehensible to Bartholomew. He was so shocked by this turn of events that he didn’t really hear what they were yelling about. Charlotte began to cry and ran out the front door. Claire followed Charlotte, hitting Topping in the shoulder as she passed. “Idiot!”

Bartholomew gawked at Topping, waiting for some kind of explanation. He didn’t get one. Bartholomew looked at Ned who just shrugged his shoulders.

“Is dinner ready?” asked Uncle Jeffrey.

“Yes…I guess so,” said Aunt Josephine, who retreated to the kitchen to bring out the food.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” said Bartholomew as he went outside to see what was up with Charlotte and Claire. He saw them in the garden at the end of his street huddled together on the logs in the gathering area. He walked over and put his hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. She was still crying.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Sometimes… he makes me… so mad,” Charlotte said between the sobs. “He just acts… like my opinion… doesn’t mean anything.”

“Guys can be like that,” assured Claire. Bartholomew thought this was an unhelpful statement. In his experience, both men and women can behave in lots of ways. And besides, he thought he was the kind of guy who cares and he knew that Topping loved Charlotte.

“It’s just makes me mad… that we have lived together…for over a year and he still can be so… dismissive of me,” sobbed Charlotte.

Bartholomew began carefully, “I didn’t hear what was said, but I do know Topping loves you. He just makes mistakes sometimes.”

“Mistakes?” began Claire, “He’s so focused on himself he doesn’t know what Charlotte is doing half the time. Just because he’s your friend doesn’t mean you have to defend him.”

Bartholomew thought Claire, again, made an unhelpful statement. Of course Bartholomew is going to defend his friends. He would defend both Charlotte and Claire as well as Topping and Ned. He also knew that Topping did care about what Charlotte was doing, although he tended to focus on what was in front of him at the moment.

“Mistakes are fine,” said Charlotte recovering from her sobs. “I’m just tired of him not learning from his mistakes. I don’t know how many times I have told him to call or to let me know where he is or that I want to spend time with him and he forgets or ends up doing something else.”

“Why don’t you come back in for dinner and you two can talk this out later?” asked Bartholomew.

“No!” replied Charlotte. “I don’t want to talk anymore. I’m not going back in there.”

“C’mon, you can stay at my place tonight,” offered Claire.

Bartholomew didn’t think this offer was very helpful. Charlotte and Topping should be together and try to work this out. Separating wasn’t going to help. A bit exasperated with Claire’s three unhelpful comments, Bartholomew added, “You mean Ned’s place.”

Claire got an angry look on her face and punched Bartholomew in the shoulder. “I’ve been living there seven months! It’s my place, too!” Claire and Charlotte got up and walked to Claire’s bicycle. Charlotte sat on the seat and Claire stood up and pedaled.

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