Oops! We saw this DPchallenge with a big picture of strawberries directly above it that we mistook for the challenge’s subject… The real contest photo was hidden beyond the READ MORE button. We doubt we can win that contest with this entry now… ;^) Enjoy!
It was a beautiful sunny day, the bright red Italian strawberries should have been very happy, they were on the cusp of a blessed event, but instead, the strawberries were very worried…
All of the strawberries came from a good farm with very good pedigrees; they were lovingly raised by itinerant workers who always treated them with respect, nurturing them, grooming their roots, watering them, and tending them every day in the hot Italian sun.
Sometimes the farmer’s wife would sing to them as she picked strawberries for her family.
The strawberries were all very grateful for the farm where they were raised.
Sure, some of the strawberries had some minor blemishes, but any of the strawberries would dare you to find any one of them you would not want to pop into your mouth and gobble down, or nibble slowly, enjoying your strawberry in whatever manner suited your nature or the whim of a moment.
Ordinarily, the strawberries were never worried.
As a rule, nearly all strawberries were nearly always very cheerful, robust fruits, certain of good destinies in the hungry bellies of their appreciative consumers.
But today, the strawberries were having trouble seeing their destinies. The strawberries were reduced to the status of humans. Humans never knew their destinies, but the strawberries had been favored by the fates to always know their destinies.
The fates loved strawberries. The fates would always play with their strawberries; they would pop each strawberry in their empty eye-socket, pretending it was an eye.
One time this actually worked, sister Alarm had popped a strawberry in her eye-socket on a whim and seen a glimpse of the future for her sister Dread.
The fates had always been forbidden to know their own futures, so this was a moment of extraordinary magic for the Fates.
Consequently, the elated Fates bestowed two gifts on all strawberries for all time. All strawberries would always be allowed to pick their own destinies, and all strawberries would always be allowed to remember the particular destiny each one had picked for themselves; every strawberry would always know who would eat it.
Until today, that is.
The strawberries could all remember their destinies yesterday, what had changed?
Yesterday, the strawberries were peaceful and content because each one knew exactly which human would eat each one of them; yet now, today, no strawberry could remember which humans might eat them. Each strawberry could only hope that they would be safely delivered to the humans they had each chosen to be eaten by when they were barely little buds seeing the sun for the very first time.
Each strawberry had spent its lifetime grooming itself to be the snack of a little child or a tired executive or a harried stewardess. Sometimes a strawberry would choose a favorite pet to eat them for their destiny.
Occasionally a strawberry might fail to meet their appointed destiny, but only because some strawberries refused to choose nasty fates and deceived themselves. The fates of all strawberries could not all be good, but nearly every strawberry wanted a good fate.
No one wanted to be the strawberry that fell under a cartwheel, or who got neglected until it spoiled. Consequently, vain strawberries who failed to choose their fates wisely would sometimes be disappointed.
Typically the wisest strawberries chose the nastiest fates to spare the rest as much disappointment in their lives as possible.
The wisest strawberries had spent many incarnations as strawberries and knew the ropes of strawberrydom better than the newbies, especially those newer strawberries who had never become a strawberry before.
So what was different about today? Why did none of the sweet strawberries sitting under the ‘Itali’ sign remember their chosen fates? Had they all been too unwise to choose a more modest fate? Might they all be crushed in a lorry crash?
Perhaps something was wrong with their bright yellow sign? The strawberries were sure it said ‘Itali’, but they did not know what ‘Itali’ meant, maybe ‘Itali’ meant poison and they would all be sent to an incinerator!
More and more strawberries were beginning to panic as one wild conjecture or another was whispered nervously between them until they had finally exhausted all of the possibilities.
The strawberries worried that the natural order of life that their kind had known for thousands of years of cultivation was about to be upset… what had happened to take away their assurance in their own destinies?
Perhaps the cumbersome humans would know what to do. They always had lots and lots of ideas…
A human was coming now.
Perhaps the day would turn out all right.
As the first customers approached the strawberries, the strawberries prayed together to their earth mother that all would be ok.
Then the strawberries heard a familiar voice, a voice that none of the wisest strawberries had heard since the Fates had given them so much power over their destinies and the comfort of knowing that their destinies would always be secure.
A withered old lady’s hand plucked a plump strawberry from the basket nearest to her; a few black swan feathers poked out of the long sleeve of her timeless black dress.
The strawberry was popped into the odd old lady’s single eye socket. The strawberry’s memory was returned, sister Dread had tricked the strawberries to give them a little surprise.
The strawberries were so relieved to have their memories of their destinies given back to them that they immediately forgave sister Dread. The lucky strawberry in Dread’s eye socket blessed sister Dread with a happy vision of her sister Horrid’s old flame Dionysus coming to visit.
As the day warmed up the strawberries began to disappear as they were carried to homes, offices, restaurants and schools to meet their happy fates.
Soon, most of the strawberries would become parts of the humans that consumed them and they would begin new lives, human lives, lives they had been looking forward to all of their ripening days.