Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)
TITLE: A Taste of Splendor
By Amanda Brogan
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This feast could hold nothing but the best – nothing but perfection. Why? Because this was a celebration that my master had gleefully anticipated all year.
The week of his wedding feast.
I glanced up from the wine I was pouring for a rather rotund guest to catch a peek at the couple. They were staring into each other’s eyes, unmatchable smiles lighting up their faces. I wondered if they had even sipped the wine in their hands.
I focused again on my work just as the big man flashed me a yellow-toothed grin and bellowed, “Keep that wine coming, young man! The best I’ve ever tasted.”
“Yes, sir.” I nodded. Turning, I smiled to myself.
The best he said. Everything was flawless, and that’s how it would remain until the feast’s end. I would help make sure of it.
I crossed to the long table at the opposite end of the courtyard to see if anyone on that side needed refreshment. It took a lot of dodging but I made it with my wine jar in one piece. Something caught the corner of my eye and I noticed that the headwaiter himself was motioning to me. I quickly made my way to the front of the courtyard where he was seated.
He extended his glass coolly, “More wine, please.”
With ease I filled the glass – halfway. I looked into my jug. Nothing but wet pottery glistened back at me.
“Excuse me, sir, but it appears that I’ll need to refill my pitcher.”
“Very well.” He nodded. “Have the guests been receiving their fill?”
“Yes, sir. Everyone has had plenty.”
“Excellent.” He took a sip from his half-filled cup.
Back through the crowd I wormed to the place where the large containers of wine were kept. I dipped in my pitcher, but encountered only air. I reached deeper. Nothing. To my horror, I looked in the container to find it empty. It shouldn’t have run out already. I glanced in the next pot but it, too, was empty.
I dropped my pitcher and placed my head in my hands.
Oh no, this can’t be happening!
A hand touched my shoulder. I lifted my head to see the concerned eyes of a woman, probably in her fifties.
“Is everything alright?”
“No, ma’am, I’m afraid it’s not. We’ve … run out of wine.”
By her anxious look, I knew that she understood the problem as well. It could mean public shame for the groom if the wine ran out.
“Wait here.” She said, weaving through the crowd.
She stopped some distance away, before a man in sand-colored robes. I couldn’t distinguish what they were saying, but I saw something in her eyes as she talked with him – trust.
She came back to me. “Do whatever he tells you.”
Whatever he tells me? What does she mean?
It looked as though the man wasn’t going to tell me anything, but slowly he approached.
He motioned to me and a few other servants and then pointed to a row of huge stone waterpots at the gateway. “Fill them with water.”
But those are for purification – washing hands.
I didn’t voice my puzzlement, but simply obeyed him as the woman had said.
The other servants and I made several trips to the well, carrying gallons upon gallons until the pots were filled to the brim.
We looked to the man, wondering what on earth he would have us do next.
How does this help our wine problem? I thought.
He turned to me, “Take some to the headwaiter.”
What?! Serve him water?
Tentatively, I dipped my pitcher into the closest waterpot. But when I drew it out I noticed that the water was no longer clear. It was dark as wine.
Soon I was back at the headwaiter’s seat, filling his cup with the fresh liquid.
He took a sip, and to my surprise, his eyes lit up.
I watched him summon the groom and whisper, “Most people serve the best wine first, but you’ve saved it until now.”
He gulped down a long drink, “Ah! Now that’s perfect!”
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