The One With The Orange Tree

“Well?”

“Well, which way did the coin fall? For me, it landed heads up… twice.”

I think about the internal debate, about the strength it takes to hold yourself still while your blood boils. The control you feel steeling your veins when a red-faced man screams into your face, sprinkling you with angry spit.

The strength it takes not to move, to keep your feet planted, growing roots in tendrils through the carpet, the wood, the levels of a house, down, down, down to the ground.

I smile.

“So, am I going to see you soon?”

“Definitely.”

I let the days go by. I start a new job and enjoy it. I watch friendships and relationships around me begin to crumble. Still, I let the green push itself through the hard, cold, earth. The deeper they reach the harder it gets to hear the hissing of fear. I burrow down deeper into the ground, make a home of rock and soil. I pass remnants of others. I get dirt underneath my fingernails. No, I’m not running this time. I will go deeper. I will go to the center. I will go core deep.

He rings my doorbell, tells me to get bundled up because we’re going sledding on Citadel hill. He watches me pull on layer after layer. I want to wrap myself up in his arms, use him as fleece and wool. We pick up his friend and smoke a joint at the bottom of the ice-covered hill. My heart beats in 4|4 time. I blink the blurred lights of the city in and out of existence. The sled catapults me to the sidewalk and the road. Cars pass but don’t honk. For a moment it feels like flying and then there are waves of snow in my eyes, colder than anything I have ever felt. I hold a frozen finger to my eye and wonder if I’m crying, forming icicles at the corners of my eyes. Climbing the hill again I collapse and pass off my sled, lay back, let the cold envelope me, seal me in a thin transparent case, an ice queen. I can feel every pore in my skin condensing around the cold, holding it like you might a fragile form. An insect. A cocoon. The shell some butterfly left behind.

A faint fluttering in my chest, it takes me a moment, while I watch them climb back up the hill. Happiness.

We get cold and hungry. So, we drive through and I ponder the perfect French fry; the ratio of salt and crunch. We drop his friend off and drive aimlessly for a while. At peace with the night and the music. I shed clothes in his front seat. We decide to people watch at Wallmart and giggle our way through the aisles, hand in hand. I find the most atrocious pair of rainbow furry slippers but abandon them for orange Tic Tacs at the till.

On the drive back to my house I convince him to put a handful of the candy in his mouth all at once. I do the same, running my tongue over the little ovals, a mouthful of marbles, a nest full of eggs. A basket of tiny oranges.

He tells me I’ve ruined orange Tic Tacs for him, his second favourite flavour.

I laugh, wondering to myself how he could go and do the opposite without even realizing it.

Days later, I will buy the citrus Tic Tacs and melt them at the center of my tongue. Candy harvested in perfect nights from the twisted branches of an orange tree.

Broken Bells – Vaporize

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