A Glass, A Pitcher, and Two Apples

From a prompt of
A Master of My Craft
by Czeslaw Milosz

A Glass, A Pitcher, And Two Apples

The glass is a lens. So is the pitcher. The water is cool but there is no condensation, maybe a few drops under its lip, left after filling the glass. Smaller lenses in an uneven line down the side of the glass. Lens upon lens. The two apples are green and hard and very shiny. Reflections of light; tiny signal mirrors on the top left of each bright green sphere.

But you only see the apples through the many lenses. The pitcher stretches the green light, deforms it, expands the green. You can’t even tell its an apple – just greenness in the pitcher, a speck or two magnified.

The glass has a pale pink lipstick stain on the rim; the only dull thing on the mahogany table. The table is freshly oiled. It shines and you can see bits of lint curling, trapped in the oil. The leaves, a large dark oblong hanging down, the top, a narrow flat surface upon which sits a glass, a pitcher, and two apples.

Is death ever on time? Some people keep making appointments with death but keep on standing him up, leaving him sitting at the bar of the hotel, drunk on cheap wine. He always shows up in his sleazy black suit with a tangled string tie. His hair is neither long nor short. His eyes are kind and his pale lips promising. He is relentless because he has all the time in the world. If you don’t show up this time, he’ll meet you the next time, or the time after that. You can rely on him.

So put on that red dress you wore before you knew better, and meet him at the Palace Hotel and take a few turns on the dance floor. He actually smells nice. This is a surprise; you expected a garbagy smell but he smells like rich compost. It goes with the black suit but not the little tie which, if you dance close enough, you will notice smells like the Brylcream that makes his hair shine and sit like dark skullcap on his head..

His hands are thin and bloodless but still warm.

Dancing with him is a dream. He leads by drawing you along. He sets the rhythm and the time, but there is no music, no other dancers, no crystal chandeliers, or tables or chairs. The piano is covered in a white cloth, the long point of a corner hanging off that sexy curve where the torch singer leans, looking lonely; she has lost her love and she sings about a glass, a pitcher and two apples.