The Security Camera
The security camera recorded in silence, its motionless presence capturing everything within its field of view. The black and white images captured by the recording device offered no sound, but the lobby didn’t need such high-tech cameras as that. The camera captured the main entrance and the first few comfortable benches that sat along the left wall. At the current moment, a mother was bouncing an infant on her knee, the child looking around at everything in the mostly clean space. The mother was eating from a tub of grapes, talking on her cell phone. While she was looking to the side, the baby grabbed a rather large grape and attempted to put it in its mouth. The baby bumped the grape into the corner of its mouth, unable to finagle the sphere around its lips. Frustrated, the baby threw the large grape on the floor, watching it roll a few feet away. The camera captured this moment clearly.
I wish I could throw things. The camera thought to itself, always feeling like the world around him was having more fun than he could ever have. There are always people and things coming in and out and I am always stuck here, recording the same space non-stop. Heck, even most of the other cameras have been swapped out or upgraded. I bet they get to see really cool things when they get taken down, but not me, I’m stuck here, with almost no excitement ever. Poor, sad camera. It had been tightly packed into the ceiling corner for nine years now, never getting a new view, and never being checked on or appreciated. Occasionally someone would look up at him and wave, but most of them just stuck their tongue out or made an ugly face at him. I’m always giving, and never receiving. No thanks for my work.
The camera continued to watch and record the room, wondering if the mother was ever going to notice the large grape that her baby had thrown. A slow pace of people was continuously entering the building, maybe one every two minutes, with another person leaving on the off minutes. No one had stepped on the grape yet, and no one had stopped to pick it up. Then, a young man entered the building with crutches. He had one leg held up and the other pressed against the floor, clearly needing the crutches, not like some of the fakers that the camera had seen in the past. The man was walking towards the grape, causing the camera to wonder if he would hit it away with one of the crutches, that would be fun at least. Unfortunately, the man was looking to his left, instead of watching the floor. He made eye contact with the baby, attempting to wave at the baby while simultaneously still using the crutches, the camera couldn’t see the man’s face at this angle, but it was assumed he was smiling. At that exact moment, the young man’s only functioning foot stepped directly on the large grape, causing it to explode as a watery weapon beneath the man’s foot. The camera watched as the man completely lost his balance and fell backwards, practically throwing his crutches in the air. The baby let out a giggle, the grape’s corpse now smeared across the floor. The time in the corner of the camera read 2:47pm. That was funny. The camera thought to itself, he needed the positive emotion, just a little pick me up. Maybe this existence isn’t all that bad after all.
Oh the blissful ignorance of a baby, being able to go thru life’s ebbs and flows better than the greatest of meditators and mindfulness gurus. Why? A baby just is, and maybe the science on babies tells us they are aware and feel emotions, but try teaching the science to a baby, it doesn’t know, you know? Take this baby for instance, waiting in the building’s lobby on its mother’s lap, acknowledging the amazing sounds and colors that are emanating all around it. The baby is simply experiencing life to the fullest. If it could talk, it would probably talk about how wonderful its life was, definitely better than, I don’t know, let’s say…a video camera. Oh! Like the one perched on the ceiling across from the baby, the baby is sure glad it’s a baby and not the camera. The baby would prefer for its mother to get off the phone and pay more attention to it, but it has to admit, the new environment is distracting and enticing, and there is no shortage of new people walking in and out of the lobby, quite the site indeed.
A purple glimmer caught the baby’s eye to its right. Turning its head towards the inviting stimulus, the baby saw a tub full of large grapes! Oh wow! The baby didn’t exclaim because it can’t speak. I love grapes! Again, not really said. The baby reached towards the tub of grapes and pulled one out. Clearly its mother was looking away while speaking or she surely would not have allowed this action, her track record proves as much. Baby-1, Mother-0. Capitalizing off its first victory, the baby decided it was time to indulge in the spoils of its success, beginning to move the rather large grape up to its mouth. A struggle ensued, the baby attempting move after move, but for some reason could not get the grape into its mouth, unfortunately never realizing that it was trying too hard to force the grape through the side of its mouth. The baby really needed to move the grape towards the center of its mouth, the security camera can attest that it would have fit. All for the best though, the size of the grape would have presented a choking hazard for the baby, and that would have ruined a great many people’s day, the baby’s included.
Experiencing the most grape-like frustration of its life, the baby gave up, and in its frustration threw the grape forward. The grape rolled a few feet away from the baby, the mother still oblivious to the actions. Babies flail their arms all the time, so she probably thought nothing of it. The baby continued for the next few minutes to do pretty much nothing, just baby stuff. It didn’t ponder the existence of God, or reconcile its place in the world, nor did it consider the infinite reality of time and space or how the finale to How I Met Your Mother just wasn’t as enjoyable as the baby would’ve wanted it to be, because it obviously hadn’t seen that show yet because it’s a baby. Instead, it went ahead and emptied its bladder, enjoying the relaxing feeling of a good pee and watching the slow but steady stream of people move through the lobby.
After its non-thoughts and peeing concluded, the baby saw a unique four-legged man enter the building, or wait, was it four legs, or did it just have armpit extensions that reached to the floor? The baby was transfixed on the creature that mostly resembled a human being. The young man creature thing noticed the baby and smiled. The baby liked that. The creature moved its hand to wave at the baby, letting go of the extension, the baby still confused. At that moment, the creature man with armpit extensions stepped on a grape, the same grape that the baby had thrown. This was not good, and the man collapsed onto the ground, flailing in the most comedic way the baby had ever seen, the armpit extensions launching into the air. The baby’s day had been made and it began giggling in a way that, in most other contexts, would have lit a room up with joy. The time was 2:47pm, the baby didn’t know that but I, the author, need that detail to keep the continuity for my short story title.
What is life? Is it the beat of a heart? The soul of a man? The ability to think, to live, breath or die? To a grape, it is to come from a seed, to begin small and blossom out into the universe alongside its many brothers and sisters. What about the things that makes a grape unique? Its size, its color, its region? Perhaps it’s the privileges of different grapes’ lives. To live and die on the stem, to be pressed into a smooth jam or a fine wine, maybe even aged for decades, or to be held over the longing mouth of the God Dionysus as he relishes in Greek worship before his indulgencies, or maybe its to be mishandled by a baby before meeting a dishonorable death. We may never know.
The large grape thought of none of this, because grapes don’t do that kind of thing. Instead, the grape simply sat still, enjoying the presence of its brothers and sisters. Being in the tub was similar to being on the stem, only, having been plucked, they could feel themselves slowly rotting away, having no source of nourishment or replenishment. The grape knew that they were being pulled from the tub one by one, only to face who knows what. The environment was nothing like the vineyard it had known in its younger days. The world the grape knew seemed to be getting bleaker and bleaker as time went on; the vineyard to the factory, to the shipping container, to the store, to the house, to the tub, and then…what? What would become of the grape, what happened next? No grapes had ever told the large grape what to expect out of its existence, what to be excited for and what to fear.
As the grape continued to not think about these things, it began to feel pressure, a similar pressure to when it had been plucked from its stem and placed in the tub. The grape was now being lifted out of the tub, alone, no brothers, no sisters. It was being held onto by some creature, some…thing. The creature attempted to press the grape against its body, the grape having no idea what was occurring. Grapes had been leaving the container one by one, is this what had been befalling them? After a few moments of being pressed and repositioned, the grape felt itself being swung, before suddenly being released and launched through the air. If the grape could tell the truth, then it certainly would not lie about this experience; being thrown through the air, the rushing wind cooling it off as it soared, having an experience that not every grape could share. The experience came to a quick and painful end as the grape made contact with the floor, bruising and bouncing on impact. After a few dizzying rolls, the grape stopped moving, now finding itself completely alone in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.
The large grape could not perceive time, therefore it had no way of knowing how long it had been on the floor, in fact, the grape had no way of truly experiencing anything, despite the fact that it has been, and will continue to be, slightly anthropomorphized to keep the story going. Due to the grape’s understandable ignorance regarding the manner of things in this world, it remained oblivious to the reality that a giant shoe was approaching its vicinity. It did not comprehend the security camera many feet above it, nor the baby many feet adjacent to it. The grape did not comprehend the young man in crutches who was nanoseconds away from stomping on the grape and creating the fruitful equivalent of an R rated brutality. Of course, because of the grape’s lack of ability in comprehension, it was unable to have any last thoughts as the shoe squished it into the floor, splattering the tasty viscera in multiple directions. The grape did not comprehend that it was 2:47pm.