Short Story by Liana Margiva
A long time ago, Pumpkin Island was inhabited by proud and wild tribes who loved and cherished their island no less than other people love and cherish their native land. The land they lived upon was not cultivated, and much to the misfortune of the islanders, abounded with gold. Then, from faraway lands, there arrived civilized people armed to their teeth, seeking better fortune and the coveted yellow metal.
After shooting most of the locals, the civilized people settled down and, generation after generation, started building a new, happy life. Time went by and eventually Pumpkin Island became one of the most powerful, richest islands. People arriving from other lands lived peacefully, equal among them not only by law, but also in life. On Pumpkin Island people didn’t care what color one’s eyes or skin was. Intelligence was valued above all qualities.
It was on this island of gallant but defeated warriors, where trees grew long, thin leaves, that Lucia found her love. It was hot like the sun, and passionate like the waves of the nearby Great Ocean.
Everything was different on this island-people, trees, birds-all unlike those on Lucia’s home island. Even the land on Pumpkin Island was different, tinted a lively red color.
On Pumpkin Island, the more knowledge a person had the better lifestyle he enjoyed. On Lucia’s home island, knowledge wasn’t worth a nickel. One could study all his life, master a score of sciences, and would still wind up a pauper. Unless, of course, one would master the great science of Theft and Cheating. Lucia couldn’t comprehend why on her home island, the Pumpkiners were always looked upon as evil people; anyone who met Pumpkiners at least once wouldn’t fail to notice their good-naturedness.
Why are we constantly told that the Pumpkiners hold nothing sacred except money? Lucia often wondered. Apparently, the leaders of my island wanted us to loath money and have no regrets about being broke.
Once, when Lucia waited for her lover on a bench under a purple tree, she observed a large crowd of old people. Gray-haired men and women with happy smiles on their faces, dressed in stylish clothes, were boarding a double-decker bus. Lucia was ogling the crowd with such keen curiosity, that a passer-by stopped next to her and explained.
“Those are the senior citizens from our island. They are leaving on a tour of the neighboring country. Haven’t you ever seen senior citizens before?”
“Senior citizens?” gasped Lucia in perplexity.” On my home island, senior citizens can’t even afford to travel to a neighboring city to visit their children!”
Lucia suddenly recalled the bereaved face of an old soldier, who wept like a child when a soldier from another country had sent him his old uniform either out of charity or mockery. Many years ago they were enemies in a war that lasted five long years. Feeling sorry for the old soldier and her home island, Lucia hadn’t been able to hold her tears.
At that time, her lover showed up, sporting black pants and a white shirt sprinkled with tiny flowers. Lucia jumped to her feet, opened her arms, and the man embraced her passionately, pressing Lucia to his chest.
“Elmendorf, I am so happy I met you! I have no words to tell you how much I love you,” purred Lucia blissfully, melting in his firm embrace.
“We were blessed with happiness on the same day, Lucia. I bless the day you arrived on this island. You have given me love I couldn’t dare dream of,” he said with a smile. He took Lucia’s face in his palms and kissed her cheeks and lips gently.
“Lucia today is a big holiday on our island-the Pumpkin Day. On this day, everyone rejoices and praises the Lord for the fortune He lavished on our land. I am praising the Lord for the gift of you! On this wonderful holiday, I want you to accept a small token of my love.”Elomendo took out a small box and solemnly handed it to the young woman.
“What gorgeous earrings!” Lucia cried out, opening the box. Immediately, she removed a gold bracelet from her wrist and handed it to the young man.”Elomendo, I want you to keep this as a token of my love,” she said with affection.
“This is too much; Lucia. It must be dear to you.”Elomendo shook his head.
“I have nothing, and no one, dearer than you,” Lucia whispered, clinging to his chest.Elomendo took her hand, and together they walked down the path flanked by amazing purple trees.
It must be noted that the islanders had a strange fondness for pumpkins. Unlike other nations, they didn’t eat them. Instead, they worshipped and canonized them. One day a year, all schools and stores on the island closed and no one went to work. Men and women dressed up like clowns and danced in the streets to the sounds of merry music. Enormous pumpkin posters adorned streets and houses. Pumpkins were gutting and carved to make them look like faces, with eyes, noses and cheerful ear-to-ear grins. Candles would then be placed inside the pumpkins. When darkness fell, candles would be lit, and the pumpkins carried out to the porch of each house. Each house sported between ten and fifteen pumpkins on its front porch.
“I haven’t seen so many pumpkins in my entire life!” Lucia cried out.” And I’ve never been happier in my entire life!”
They walked downtown to see the holiday parade in honor of Pumpkin Day. The streets were swamped with people in masks, people with faces painted in rainbow colors. Merry music blared from hidden speakers. Some people carried large pumpkin posters, dancing and frolicking up and down the streets, shouting,” Long live the Great Island! Long live our beloved Pumpkin!”
Lucia and Elomendo stopped at a curb to take a good look at the dances. Lucia was astonished by the beauty of the dance, the national dance of Pumpkin Island. Men and women kept their hands clenched behind their backs, jumping high into the air to the sound of flutes, and making extraordinary movements with their legs. Suddenly, a young girl with long, curly, chestnut hair and malachite eyes stepped out to the front, and the music stopped. She nodded to an unseen musician, and the flute sang anew, accompanied by the awed “oh’s” and “ah’s” of the stunned spectators. The youthful dancer was on fire, lighting a sparkle in everyone’s heart. Her movements were swift, yet amazingly light and graceful.
“She is so beautiful!” gasped Lucia, looking up at Elomendo.Something in the stunned statement on his face made her heart skip a beat. Something was not right.
“Yes, she is an amazing beauty,”Elomendo said casually, transfixing the young dancer with his stare.
When the dance ended, Lucia and Elomendo kept walking until their attention was caught by another scene. The street in front of them was filled with children of all ages dressed up in the most amazing costumes, carrying bags and baskets of all shapes and sizes. The boys and girls knocked at each door and, when the doors opened, chanted something in their Pumpkin language. Glowing with delight, people brought out candy and cookies, generously loading children’s bags with the sweet booty. Gleeful children would then thank the host and march to the next house where more candy awaited them.
Lucia almost screamed with delight, when among the children she spotted a little red-haired girl with smiling blue eyes and a white ribbon in her hair. The little girl wore a long white dress with transparent sleeves that covered her tiny fingers, which gripped the handle of a paper candy basket. The little girl’s tiny feet were caught in the brim of her dress, and she tripped and fell on the ground. On her back she wore a set of angel wings, while her chest was proudly decorated with a huge badge that said “Princess Elizabeth.” Trudging beside the girl was a little blue-eyed boy of the same height, dressed in a black velvet suit, matching lacquer shoes, a crisp white shirt and a wide-brimmed hat “Prince Jonathan”, read the inscription on his badge. The prince and the princess must have only recently learned to walk, because their tiny feet were not quite up to the burden of weightless wings and a wide-brimmed hat. Tripping on even ground, the pint-size monarchs would fall on their fours, crawl in the grass, and pick up the scattered treats. That accomplished, the sovereigns joined the rest of the prowling crowd.
Excited by the charm of the scene, Lucia clung to Elomendo’s arm as they walked down the path, basking in the eerie orange glow of pumpkin lanterns that adorned the granite and marble porches of the houses. It was already dark, and the deep-purple fabric of the sky was festooned with the blue topazes of southern constellations. Lucia felt like she had been miraculously carried into a fairy-tale, where she had finally met her Prince Charming, except for the fact that no princess had ever loved her prince with such absolute, consuming passion.
Every night the path would lead them to the ocean, and tonight was not an exception. Lucia and Elomendo took a long walk down the deserted beach, then, exhausted, settled on top of a sand dune. They overlooked an endless expanse of pitch black water, pierced with the tiny lights of distant fishing boats. The sound of the surf died down. The waves had settled for the night, crawling deep into their ocean lair, leaving behind but the great stillness of the southern night. The lovers lay on the sand side by side, locked in an affectionate embrace. Lucia stroked Elomendo’s face and shoulders, whispering, “My love, my dear Elomendo!”
Several days flew by when Lucia noticed a sudden turn in Elomendo’s behavior, and realized he was avoiding her. Shaken to the bottom of her heart, Lucia couldn’t comprehend the change in her lover’s attitude. Their meetings became infrequent, and on those occasions Lucia kissed Elomendo as passionately as ever, and his responded. However, the fire had gone from his kisses, and his lips had turned to ice.
One warm summer night, they walked down to the beach and lay down on a sand dune in complete silence. Lucia turned to Elomendo and stroked his face and hair, while her whole being was overcome with a wild, uncontrollable passion, boiling in her chest like molten lava. She covered his entire body with kisses, when suddenly something snapped inside her.
She remembered his indifference, the cold look in his eyes…Lucia let go of Elomendo and fell back on the sand with her eyes closed. She felt as if a bucket of icy water had been poured on her hot, simmering soul.
Propping himself on his elbow,Elomendo stared at her in silence, his cold gaze betraying the obvious answer to Lucia’s mute questions, and the answer she failed to read. Lucia was staring back at Elomendo, as if trying to absorb in her memory each feature of the face she worshipped.
Her heart was telling her the brutal truth. She was losing her loved one, losing him for eternity. The man lying beside her, her dear, beloved Elomendo, who only so recently desired her and loved her, was now a changed man. His feelings for Lucia had vanished without a trace.
Her heart didn’t lie. It was their last night together. Crushed by her grief, Lucia became restless. Alone, she wandered the city, inevitably winding up in places they used to meet at, but found no trace of Elomendo.One day, when Lucia was stubbornly waiting for Elomendo on their bench under the sprawling purple tree, dark clouds moved in, blanketing the sky Gusty winds howled in treetops and rumpled the rose bushes to the bench. The roses opened their buds, filling the air with the scent of pure love.
Later that night, Lucia found herself on the beach, at the very spot she used to come to with Elomendo.Memories swarmed in her head and warmed her grieving soul. Birds soared high above the ocean, and the sun made its grand entrance once again, pushing aside the clouds The waves, silent witnesses of her passionate nights, ran towards Lucia as if welcoming her arrival. Tears swelled in Lucia’s eyes when she raised her head and yelled at the top of her lungs, “Do not tell me about him, I want to forget his love! I don’t want the weeping of my wounded soul to disturb his peace!”
Embarrassed, the waves sensed Lucia’s angish.The surf rolled up to her feet and touched her toes gently as if trying to comfort her. They silently, slowly withdrew back into the ocean, only to return hurriedly, stubbornly back to Lucia’s feet. The waves seemed perplexed by human inconsistency. She was sitting on the sand, crying bitterly, while the foamy surf caressed her feet, commiserating. The sun-which had deprived her of its one single ray, her Elomendo-now focused the rest of its rays on Lucia and tried to dry her clothes and warm her heart.
On the same day, Lucia learned that next day Elomendo was marrying the very dancer he had been feasting his eyes on the night of the great Pumpkin holiday Lucia did not feel any pain. There was nothing but great emptiness inside her; that and her heart, which was like a heavy stone in her chest. One single thought nagged her constantly, filling her head, Elomendo is getting married! Her Elomendo, the beloved man Lucia couldn’t imagine herself without, was about to become another woman’s husband
Lucia couldn’t sleep that night. She paced her room restlessly until dawn, when she settled at her desk and began writing a letter.
“I decided to write you because I have to work this out. Tomorrow, you are marrying that woman. So, what can I wish for? I guess I wish for her to love you the way I did, her eyes to shine with happiness every time she sees you, her soul to fill with joy every time she puts her arms around you. I wish for her to miss you as much when you are apart as I did when we were apart. I am wishing her everything you have taken away from me.
“God have mercy on a woman who has been abandoned by her man. Her miserable life will be wasted in painful separation, Sorrow will find a permanent home in her heart, and she will age before her time
“Rejected love causes pain, which subsides as soon as love dies. But how long must one live with the anguish? When your love is rejected, you feel like you’ve just buried a loved one. You feel like your life has stopped, yet you have to stubbornly exist and learn to live again.
“I am departing from your life for good, but I am taking you with me. You will appear to me in my dreams just as before. I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up, so I could always be with you!
“May the raindrops that hammer on your window remind you of the tears that wet my pillow every time I go to bed May the birds of your island sing to you in the voice of my soul, my love. May the sound of the ocean be a constant reminder of my eternal love for you!
“If one day you feel lonely and sad, remember me. Remember, that somewhere on this earth, there is a woman who will never forget you. Then, you will feel much better.
“My beloved, you broke my heart, and I am desperately trying to put it back together. Even if I succeed, my heart will be empty and cold without you in it. Do not ever break a heart that loves you. You may never be able to mend it.
“My beloved, I kiss your eyes that turned away from me, your lips that will never touch mine again. I wrap my fingers around your handsome, wise head that erased me from your memory. I adore your heart that so quickly and efficiently cast me out, vacating the space for another woman. I kiss your beautiful hands that will never touch me again. I kneel before you, to embrace your legs that carried you to the one who will never love you like I did!”
The next morning, before going out, Lucia looked at her reflection in the mirror and gasped. She was staring at a woman many years older than she actually was. Thank God he will never see me again! Thought Lucia gratefully.
She dropped the letter into a mailbox and headed for the church where the wedding was to take place. Soon, her beloved one would walk down the aisle, and from that moment he would be lost forever! Lucia found a spot from where she would be able to observe the ceremony, and settled on a hard wooden bench.
She lost track of the time and must have drifted away, for when she raised her head the church was full of people dressed for the occasion. Little children were playing blissfully in the aisles. Suddenly, the crowd husband, and majestic music that spelt happiness for her beloved Elomendo filled the confines of the church.
Elomendo made a grand entrance, his magnificent white suit accenting his broad shoulders and slender body. His face radiated happiness, and his eyes filled with tenderness when the bride entered the church. The slim, beautiful dancer in a long white wedding gown walked in on the arm of her father. She carried the inevitable bouquet of white roses in her gloved right hand. The father led his daughter to the groom, and together they walked to the altar.
From her bench, Lucia was observing the scene with a void statement on her face. She heard Elomendo take a vow to “love and to hold…till death do us part.” She watched him slip a wedding band on the bride’s finger, brush aside the veil, and plant a long and passionate kiss on the young woman’s lips.
This was the same man who only recently was kissing Lucia’s lips hungrily, pledging his eternal love to her. Bitter tears were rolling down Lucia’s cheeks without asking her permission-tears that couldn’t change a thing. Fresh chords of a solemn hymn raised to the high vaulted ceiling, accompanying the couple’s exit.
The guests rose from the benches, and Lucia followed suit, silently wishing happiness to the couple. Elomendo walked by, holding his new wife by the same hand, adorned by the very bracelet Lucia had given him as a token of her eternal love and devotion. The groom marched toward the exit, unaware of Lucia’s presence.
Lucia watched the bridegroom climb into a long white limo decorated with ribbons and flowers. The engine roared, and the car sped away. Leaning against the wall, Lucia started blankly at the disappearing white car that was taking her beloved Elomendo farther and farther away from her When the car finally vanished in the distance, Lucia slowly turned her face to the church wall, touched the cool granite, with her forehead and whispered, “God, what have you done? What have you done?”
She could no longer hold her emotions inside, and loud sobs escaped her throat. On that same day, Lucia left Pumpkin Island, never to return to it again and never to see her beloved Elomendo.She stowed him deep in her heart to love and cherish for the rest of her days.
By Liana Margiva.
Translated from Russian by Anatol Kardiukov.
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|Reviewed by JMS Bell
|HOW SAD...FOR FROM THE LOOK IN THE MIRROR THE DESTRUCTION OF HER LIFE HAS ALREADY BEGUN...SHE CARRIED PAIN AND AGONY AT THAT TIME AND FOR ALL THE EMPTY YEARS THAT SHE HERSELF 'CHOSE' TO BECOME A MARTYR FOR ELOMENDO. WELL DONE AND ENJOYED. THANKS FOR SHARING, BLESSINGS AND MUCH LOVE, JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS|
|Reviewed by Inspire Hope
|A very sad story indeed Liana, yet you've penned it so very well!
I must tell you it again, you are an excellent story teller! Looking
forward to reading more of your stories! please keep them coming!
Thank you so much for sharing and for caring!
|Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson
|A sad story Liana. Some times its hard to give up someone who is loved so much, but love is two fold . As for Pumpkin Island .. its too bad it had to change..........M|
|Reviewed by Leonard Goslee
|Instructing, inspiring social-romantic composition that gives one's mind many reasons to be fed.
Let us read more of your works, please.
Leonard Thomas Goslee
|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
The “Pumpkin Island” is an intriguing romantic enciting satirical story. I enjoyed the love story within it.
The satire made me think on our today’s values of family, friendship and society. This part for example: “Why are we constantly told that the Pumpkiners hold nothing sacred except money?” and this one, “On Pumpkin Island, the more knowledge a person had the better lifestyle he enjoyed. On Lucia’s home island, knowledge wasn’t worth a nickel. One could study all his life, master a score of sciences, and would still wind up a pauper. Unless, of course, one would master the great science of THEFT and CHEATING.
Thank You, Author-Poet Liana Margiva for posting “Pumpkin Island”.
I am grateful to Master Anatol Kardiukov for the excellent translation from Russian of “Pumpkin Island”.
In admiration and gratitude,
Ande Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU