A very, very short story.
It was my fault because I wanted nothing more than to eat that fruit. I stared at it every day, hanging off the branch of that tree with my eyes as wide as saucers. I tried not to stare it, I tried not to let everyone see I was staring or guess that maybe, I had only one thing on my mind. There was nothing wrong with staring and thinking about it, but it felt sticky and gross inside. It felt like I was turning into something I wasn’t.
But I couldn’t focus on anything else.
Sure, I had multiple fruits from that garden in the past and it wasn’t like I was banned. I had to be cut off for a while because I just kept sneaking in. I was really young then and they let me do everything because I was their precious little daughter. I haven’t been back there in a while, I haven’t been thinking about fruits I had my face half-buried in ice cream and bags of chips for years. I wolfed down sandwiches at the top of double decker buses and let the wind lick the wetness off my fingers. I sucked on lollipops and straws and chewed them down for the sensation and I rolled little drops of hard candies around my mouth until they disappeared underneath my tongue. Fruit, however, was not on the menu.
But recently, they’ve been glowing in the sunlight and spinning around in my mind.
I walk by that garden everywhere and I stare at that fruit like it’s the last slice of pizza. Nothing was satisfying anymore, nothing felt complete without that fruit. My sweet tooth didn’t want candy, chocolate or toasted marshmallows on top of sweet, creamy beverages. I just wanted fruit. And I imagined what it would be like to peel back the rough skin and smell the essence underneath my fingernails.
So on Monday, I stole a fruit. I nodded at Linda; who of course invited me in. We talked for a while but I didn’t hear anything she said. I did hear the rustle of the leaves in the wind, the scratching sound of animals running around in the bushes and crinkling of twigs in birds’ nests. I stared at the glint of light around the fruit as it swayed in the breeze and I waited for Linda to complete her assessment of my well-being. I walked around in the garden, running my fingers over her tulips and daisies. Linda had the prettiest flowers for miles around and people would walk by to see them or breathe them in. I liked them but they paled in comparison to the fruit. I grabbed one and stuffed it in my pocket – my treasure.
I sat on the swing in the park opposite the library and snacked on my little prize. It was good, great, incredibly satisfying. It was perfect. I bit hard and wholeheartedly and I chewed until there was nothing left to sink my teeth into. I sat alone afterwards, sniffing my fingers and sighing in satisfaction.
I stole two fruits, actually. Maybe it was bad of me but I know Linda wouldn’t mind.
I enjoyed revelling in the aftermath of fruit one but I was building up the hype for fruit two. And it was just as tasty and whimsical and exciting as the first time. But I swallowed a seed. I froze to assess the situation. You know what they say about swallowing seeds. It can be very difficult to endure, to recover from. You change into something else, the tree from which your fruit grew. Your feet turn to roots and your joints stiffen then you just remain stuck, powerless. Everyone knows if you swallow a seed no-one will talk to you and everyone you’ve ever known will abandon you.
My lip trembled as I realised the morbid fate I was up against. Children who eat seeds don’t live very long. Was it worth the risk? Was it worth that second burst of heaven?
I ran back home and locked the door. I spent the next three hours looking for ways to get rid of the seed before it took hold. My mind was racing and my heart rate quickened, no doubt from the intrusion in my body. I sat on the floor, grabbing my hair and hands, racking my brain for all the possibilities. Three things were readily apparent: 1) Children who eat seeds will die. They will live a short and painful life and they will disappear in nature’s arms. 2) Children who eat seeds are damaged. It is not normal to be this greedy or risky and children who eat seeds have strains of behavioural problems that have to be tended to. 3) Children who eat seeds need help, immediately.
I lay frozen on the ground thinking of the moment when my life would turn upside down. I thought of how my arms would freeze mid-action like I were suddenly a statue. I thought of the vines and algae that would wind their way all over my skin as it turned hard and coarse like bark. I thought of how my hair would loosen, the coils turning to leaves and thorns and branches sprouting out from my chest for gleaming new fruits. Fruits for greedy-guts children like me. The guilt scared me and stung the walls of my stomach. My neck stiffened and I closed my eyes.
I could never tell anyone about this and I knew I would likely have to run away to spare my family the embarrassment. To spare myself the embarrassment. Who would want to turn into a tree in front of their family? Does it hurt to turn into a tree? I didn’t know anything about being a tree, I needed to learn what it would be like to lose all control of the bodily functions I once took advantage of. I needed to be prepared to watch life pass by as I stay grounded, reduced to a thing for the pleasure of other eyes. But who would teach me? I couldn’t go talking to trees.
The floor felt cold underneath my skin and I couldn’t tell if I was hot or cold. I couldn’t make out the curves and texture of my comforter anymore, or the tassels I enjoyed looking at. I needed to get up so I could find a good patch of soil to be planted into but I lacked the energy to even wiggle my toes. Somehow, I still didn’t regret swallowing that seed.