Short Stories

The sweetest fig

Mr Bibot, a dentist near Jamaica Queens, was a very meticulous person who kept his little apartment and office always tidy and clean. If the dog, Marcel, went up to the furniture, Bibot would soon try to teach him a lesson. The poor animal was not even allowed to bark, except on Bastille Day, the French national festival.

One morning, when the dentist arrived at the office , an old lady was waiting for him. She was full of toothache and urged her to attend to her.

– But there is no appointment! He objected.

The lady let out a moan. Bibot looked at his watch and thought that maybe he still had time to earn some extra euros. He sent her in and watched her mouth.

“I need to get my teeth out,” he said with a smile.

After work, he added:

– I’ll give you some pain pills.

The old lady was very grateful and said:

“I can’t pay you cash, but I have something much better to give you.”

And he took two figs out of his pocket, which he offered to Bibot.

– What, figs? He asked angrily.

“These figs are special,” the woman whispered. – They can make your dreams come true.

He winked and put a finger to his lips.

Bibot was convinced that the woman was crazy. But he set the figs on the table and took her arm and led her to the door. When she reminded her of the pills, the dentist replied:

– Sorry, but it’s only for paying customers.

Then he almost pushed her out the door.

That same afternoon Bibot took the dog to the park. Poor Marcel liked to sniff the tree trunks and bushes, but each time he tried to do so, Bibot gave the leash a strong stretch.

That night, before going to bed, the dentist wanted to eat something. He sat in the dining room and ate one of the figs the old lady had given him. It was delicious. Perhaps the best and sweetest fig I had ever eaten.

The next morning Bibot dragged Marcel down the stairs for his morning stroll. The steps were too high for the dog’s short paws, but Bibot would never carry his pet: he hated that his beautiful blue suit was filled with white hair.

As he walked along the sidewalk, Bibot noticed that people were looking at him.

They are admiring my suit, he thought.

But when he saw himself reflected in a coffee shop window, he stopped in horror because he was only dressed in his underwear.

The dentist turned and headed down an alley.

“My God! What happened to my clothes?”

It was then that he remembered his dream that night: he had dreamed that he was right in front of that same cafe, in his underwear.

Since something else had happened in the dream, the man struggled to remember what it would have been like. Suddenly Marcel began to bark. The dentist looked up and saw the rest of the dream come true.

This time no one noticed Bibot as he ran home in his underwear, because all of Paris’s eyes were fixed on the Eiffel Tower, which was slowly tilting to the floor like rubber.

Bibot realized that the old lady of the figs had told her the truth. In that case, would not waste the second fig.

Over the next few weeks, while the Eiffel Tower was being rebuilt, the dentist read dozens of books on hypnotism. Every night before going to bed, he would stare into the mirror and repeat many times:

– Bibot is the richest man in the world, Bibot is the richest man in the world.

Bibot’s dreams soon began to show him that. He was driving a racing boat, flying a plane, and living luxuriously on the French Riviera. Bibot’s dreams were always the same.

One night he took the second fig from the cupboard, as the fruit could not last forever.

“Tonight is going to be!” thought the dentist.

He put the ripe fig on a plate and carried it to the table. When he woke up the next day, he would be the richest man in the world.

He looked at Marcel and smiled. The dog would not share this good life, for in dreams Bibot once owned half a dozen Dalmatians.

As he opened the cupboard for a slice of cheese, the dentist heard a crunch of crockery breaking. He turned and saw Marcel on a chair with his front paws on the table. The dog had eaten the last fig!

The dentist was beside himself. He ran after the dog throughout the house, and when Marcel hid under the bed, Bibot shouted to him:

– Tomorrow I will teach you a lesson you will never forget!

Then, enraged and wrecked, he went to sleep.

When he woke up the next morning, Bibot was confused. Instead of lying in bed, I was under the bed. Suddenly a face appeared before him. It was your own face!

“It’s time for your ride,” said the mouth of that face. – Come to Marcel!

Then a hand slid under the bed and grabbed him. Bibot still wanted to scream, but only managed to bark… Chris van Allsburg The sweetest fig Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993

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