We collect on a hillside, a handful of faces I know and many more that I don't, all of us a little hotter in the August sun that we would like. A small car climbs the hill and leaves more faces at the curb, and like the well-dressed vultures that we are, clothed so exquisitely in the sharpest black dresses and finest linen suits, we turn and watch them as they walk up the hill and join the crowd. I do my best to be transparent, cutting the thinest frame I can, longing for a wall to lean on and a little mint to clean my dirty mouth.
We move in packs through a vine-wrapped wooden archway and find the solace of shade beneath the canopy of an outdoor pavilion, its pillars draped in shiny fabric I'm afraid to touch. My companions and I float to an island of white plates and wine glasses, an oasis that I worry must be some kind of mirage, but before I can even ask for assurance, it is handed to me, a fine swirl of red cradled comfortably against my palm. I bring the glass to my lips and marvel at how little I care who has brought me here or for what purpose, just content for a moment to love and be loved by this oaky beast now easing its way into me.
I tilt my head back to earth and look to the circle of friends around me for signs of similar satisfaction, but each of them has turned away, their eyes now fixed rows of white chairs cascading toward the center of the pavilion. I'm afraid of those chairs, afraid to get too close to them because from here they look less like chairs and more like stark white tombstones; I'm afraid of the knowledge and confrontations waiting in and around whichever chair -- whichever stone -- is mine, afraid of an eternity with other people I cannot escape.
I force myself to pull back, to return my attention to the circle around me, to my friends, whoever they are. But my friends are gone, whoever they were, and now it's just me and the archway and the vines and the pillars and the shiny decorations and the glasses -- the glasses, full of wine, floating in the air where my friends once held them, some of them stained with fingerprints and lipstick, some of them tilted slightly, a drop at the rim--
All of these glasses, no longer floating but falling, all of these glasses full of wine about to crash to the stone floor of the pavilion and shatter--
Unless I can catch them, all of these glasses full of wine.
So I lunge and stretch out my linen-suited arms at these glasses that are falling at varying intervals and varying speeds, dropping my own glass in the process--
And so these glasses full of wine are breaking now, shattering on the ground, shattering on my hands, on my outstretched linen-suited arms. All around me there is glass and wine, splashing me, slashing me, and now there is glass and wine and blood -- my blood, falling all around me.
I wave my arms and try to catch it all but I just slosh it all around. Now I am swimming in glass and wine and blood, feeling faint at the thought and sight of all this glass and wine and blood--
And now I'm falling, falling like a glass of wine to the stone pavilion foor, falling down the hillside, falling past a thousand white chairs, a thousand white tombstoness, into the valley below.
Photo: jessicahtam | https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicatam/4129054400