The Bargain

Batnadiv Weinberg

Every day, the bus passed a walled garden with orange trees peering over the edge. Every day, a whisper beckoned her to come in.
        Sitting in the heat, the bus seat rubbing against her sweaty thighs, she had visions of tangled rapunzels and forbidden fruit, globed apples hanging gold and glistening. She could almost feel the gate yield beneath her hand, see the path opening before her. Lacy trees and parasols, empty tables waiting for someone to come. And as the traffic stalled, and the closed air turned fetid, she heard a voice ask how much she'd be willing to pay for a bit of paradise, for the taste of something free from the taint of the city. She could almost feel the tangy tartness filling her mouth, the cool of the shadowed leaves against the red mellow earth.
        It was on a smoggy day; the grimy bus jerked in inches and her stomach lurched with each move. I’m dying here, she thought as the bus battered her against the window. The orange trees gently touching the sky called to her. She reached out to brush the leaves and imagined floating over the wall to fall into a soft grass embrace. Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel. Was it such a bad bargain? she wondered, rubbing her still-flat belly. Fruit of the mortal body for ripe fruit of the ever-fecund earth.
        An orange fell easily into her hand, her own setting sun. She closed her eyes and breathed in its warm juice scent. Light flashed off the trees, as behind the garden wall, the witch triumphantly snatched the thought, trapped it in a pact, and smiled: Done!

Born in Stanford, CA, Batnadiv Weinberg spent her formative years in the Old City of Jerusalem, where she still resides. An artist and writer, she has studied painting at the New York Studio School and holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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