One of seven impromptus I’ve written in 2016, inspired by the sequence of hues that make a rainbow. This one is more on the romantic side.
“Seriously, what’s so great about orange?” Devon asked, with a grin.
“It’s my favorite color!” Tracy replied, hitting him in the shoulder like she used to when they were kids.
“I know that, but why?” He kept on teasing her and enjoying every moment of it.
“Do I really need a specific reason? I just do! Dessert?” she asked, reaching for the picnic basket.
He adjusted himself on the rugged towel. “Sure. What did you bring?”
She threw him a perfectly round orange and chuckled as he rolled his eyes.
“I should have known…”
“Yeah, you should have. That’s okay, I forgive you.”
Devon held the fruit in his right hand for a few seconds before proceeding to peel it off with restless fingers. He squeezed some of the segments, crushed the soft pulp, and created a juicy geyser that rivaled Yellowstone’s for a brief fraction of a second.
“Stop playing with your food, young man!” she exclaimed, in a condescending tone. The subtle adjustment on the glasses was the perfect finishing touch.
“Don’t be like that, mom. Playing is fun whether you’re three or thirty.”
“Happy birthday again,” she kissed his right cheek.
“Thanks, but where’s my real present?” he leaned over and brushed her lips.
Tracy escaped his advance with the gracefulness of a cat. Not that she didn’t want him in the same way, but there was something else she wanted to do first, a promise of yore to keep. The orange she picked up from the basket was smaller than his though equally radiant. Now, where was the knife, again? “There you are,” she thought, bringing it into the light.
“Okay, let me try to answer your original question,” she began. “I like orange because it reminds me of warmth, energy. I like orange because of the Autumn season, and I also like it because of the fruit, obviously. You do know the color name comes from it, right?”
“Just hear me out for a second. Did you also know the orange is a hybrid, a cross between pomelo and mandarin? The hybridization is not something simple and linear though but the result of a process that’s been spanning multiple generations. Think about it. It looks so perfectly uniform when in fact it’s the bubbling result of a mishmash of various influences, just like us, actually.”
“Huh?” he asked, somewhat bewildered. Tracy had never been much for philosophical considerations but she was no longer the pig-tailed brat that wrestled with him in the school playground, rather a positively glowing woman he was lucky to have in his life. He ate the final piece of dessert and decided to just listen.
“Yes, us. Humankind as a whole, us in particular. We’re all oranges, by-products of history, society, good and bad interactions, desires and aspirations brought forth. We are layered, some more than others, but the layers exist in every one of us and simplicity of appearances doesn’t always mean simplicity of facts which is why, sometimes, some layers just won’t crack open without a good amount of effort and finesse. If we try to brute force our understanding of other people, we risk doing what you did to your orange, enjoying them less than we should, less than what they deserve.”
At some primeval level, her words made absolute sense. The same could be said about her subtle gestures, the way the knife glistened and touched the fruit’s outer shell in a circle, a pirouette, a fleeting spiral…
“We’ve known each other for more than twenty years now,” she continued. “We’ve seen layers of one another fall, and others replace them, we shared secrets, ideas, and hopes for the future over and over again, but there was always something in the way, one final threshold to cross. I promised to do it on your 30th anniversary, and you promised to follow along. I’m ready to uphold that promise. Are you?”
The knife kept dancing, describing invisible outlines, leaping into a blur at the gates of the final barrier between them, conscious and subconscious no longer broken apart by fear and tradition, but ready to truly be as one.
Mouth watering, thoughts dripping softly within her voice, Devon nodded as she held the peeled orange next to his lips, an open invitation to an everlasting sweetness.
“Take a bite and give me your mind,” she whispered.
And as the sun fell upon his half-glazed stare, he came full circle, happy.