A tranquil neighborhood. A quiet street lined by cement sidewalks. Orderly green squares of lawn march right up to the walks bordering the street on either side. I stand on the nearer walk within a pool of cool, green tree shadow. A car is parked at the street’s edge, its backdoor flung wide. Ducking, the car’s roofline, I reach into the back seat, withdraw a sodden foam sphere. It’s large in my hand, and my grip encourages rivulets of water to run from between my fingers. Pivoting, I straighten, reach across the walk and wring the sphere out over a rectangular Terra cotta planter resting at the lawn’s edge. Again and again, I repeat this action — ducking, grasping, pivoting, straightening, reaching, wringing. There seems to be no end of spheres. Until…the planter is no longer a planter, but a large, white convertible; and the spheres are no longer spheres, but dusky red pomegranates. Brilliant red, the fruit’s seeds pop from between my fingers like jewels and fall into the car’s back seat. They scatter and roll along the white upholstery.
My work has not passed unwitnessed. A man — very tall, wasp thin, with close-cropped dark hair — rushes across the fringed lawn toward me. He is dressed entirely in white, and his expression is woeful. Hands outstretched, he implores me to stop. Realizing his distress, I tell him to come to me, that I’ll hug him, and it will all be okay. With repeated urging, I wear him down. Head hanging, he approaches. I seize him as soon as he is within reach and wrap him up tightly in my arms, pressing my cheek against his ribcage. I feel the texture of his shirt against my skin as I squeeze. I feel his breath move over my hair. When, at last, he inhales deeply, I release him and look up. He is smiling, astonished to admit that he actually feels better, and he thanks me.
The man walks out of view into the street beyond the parked car. I return to wringing out the multitude of waterlogged spheres, when I hear the screech of brakes and a sickening thud. Without looking, I understand the man has been struck by a passing car. A great heaviness settles over me, a deep sense of loss. But I continue to duck, to reach and retrieve. I continue to pivot, turn, and squeeze. The streams of water continue to flow from between my fingers.