By Patricia Furstenberg

A king from a country where only sand covered the ground and water was more precious than gold, and some say that even the king’s entire wealth, reaching his old age and having gathered all the treasures he could have wished for, and more, woke up one day desiring one more thing.

Not rubies and not exotic animals. Not flying machines and not another palace either.

He wished for a bunch of grapes.

To taste, for once, theirs sweet water, as legends only said.

Thus, a big, ripe bunch of grapes was brought to him. How they kept it fresh, how long it took them to travel with the fruit, I don’t know. But I do know how happy the king was when he received it. For I heard him laugh and laugh and clap his hands in joy. Like a little child in front of a gift.

At first the kind didn’t even dare get close to it.  But he stood beside the table where the chest lay, in which the bunch of grapes had traveled. And stood and looked, from all sides. His old hands gleamed, young again. The deep lines on his battered face looked smoother again, and a smile bloomed in the corners of the old king’s dry lips.

Grapes! As he’d desired!

Round blue-purple jewels, and eye-catching amid the leaves that nurtured them, prettier than anything he’d seen before, held together as if by a miracle. Globes of nectar. Nature’s perfection. Food of gods! 

Then, the king stepped closer even, peeked closer inside the chest, and smelled. A small sniff at first, unsure what to expect. Afraid to take something from the grapes if he’d smell them too long. Afraid to brake their magic. 

At last he stretched his hand inside, ready to pick one round grape. He swallowed hard, once, then once more.

When he remembered his sick brother. 

Pale and down with fever.

Hmm, he’ll enjoy the grapes more than he would. 

The king sighed. Swallowed hard again. The dark line reappeared on his face, but his eyes never lost their gleam, and the smile remained on his lips when he ordered that the grapes be sent to his sick brother. At once.

The messenger who brought the grapes, still covered in the dirt and grime of the road, came forward, closed the chest, secured the lock, lifted it as if it was a child, bowed, and left.

The king stood by his window, following the messenger with his eyes, the chest secured on the saddle.

His brother received the grapes soon after, and felt better just by looking at them.

But he didn’t eat any, for he too, remembered an old man, a simple monk, who was also sick. And thought that the monk would enjoy the grapes more than he would. Benefit from them more. So he sent the grapes further.

They say that the bunch of grapes might be traveling still, and many are those who felt better just by receiving, and then sending them further, to others in need.

Patricia Furstenberg writes poetry, children’s literature, and historical fiction dipped in Romania’s folklore, where she was born and earned a medical degree. Today Furstenberg resides in sunny South Africa with her family. To date she has published 18 books while her work and articles appeared in over 30 anthologies and online literary journals.

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