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March 31, 2012 / Daniel

Immortal

[656 words, rated PG]

Janet walked in, closed the door behind her, and walked down the hallway into the kitchen. She dropped her bag and sweater over a chair back, then walked to the refrigerator, opened the door, and stood there, staring at the contents.

She looked from shelf to shelf; milk, pickles, olives, half a head of lettuce, stacked cans of soda. Nothing looked interesting. She closed the door and browsed the counter. Bread. Crackers. One bagel. Boring.

Back to the fridge; opened the main door and the freezer door together. Milk again, of course. Frozen waffles with icy hair. Ew. Olives. Mustard. She sighed and closed both doors again, wandering to the kitchen table and sat.

The centerpiece bowl had three bananas with brown spots, but small brown spots, so those would be just about perfect. She reached under those and took a clementine.

Janet rolled it around in her fingers, admiring the deep orange color, the pores, the bit of stem left, and she peeled off the small oval product code sticker.

She pushed her right thumbnail into the peel, and began to tear it back to reveal the sections inside; tiny sprays of pungent fragrance erupted from the wound as she worked.

With a small bit peeled, she stopped, looked at it closely, something was definitely wrong with this one.

Holding back the flap, she turned the fruit into the light. She was expecting to see bits of pithy strings, tiny juice sacs arranged into segments, typical citrus stuff. Instead, she saw a lump of smooth flesh colored shapes. She poked at the lump. It was soft and flexible, warm.

She put the fruit down onto the table, suddenly not at all hungry.

Curiosity would not leave her, and Janet picked up the fruit again, began to tear away more of the peel.

As she did, she discovered more fleshy lumps, as well as noticing that all the lumps were connected, folded together in a tight fit like some sort of puzzle. All the lumpy parts had the same fleshy color, the same soft flexibility, the same warmth. More bits of peel fell away from the fruit.

After about half of the fruit was peeled back, she noticed, too, that the stuff inside had a certain symmetry to the folds; and arms, and legs.

The remainder of the peel came off in one piece, and a small man fell to her table, unfolding, lying face down, covered in orangey juice.

Janet stared at the little man.

She poked the warm flesh of his thigh.

He was perfectly proportional to a normal sized human, just, orangey.

She looked around and blinked, looked back; he was still there. Not dreaming this.

She began to wonder what one does with a small person that was in your fruit. Is there a number to call? A website with more information? Does Wikipedia have anything on fruit people?

The little man moved.

He twitched and convulsed, flopped around violently like a fish on her table, splattering orange juice drops around. Some went into her eye and stung a bit.

He coughed and gasped for air as though he were drowning, or coming to life or, something.

On all fours, he coughed and wheezed and choked, and appeared to stop breathing, but was still twitching and straining.

At once he coughed out a seed, about half the size of his head, that skipped several inches across the table and skittered to a stop.

He collapsed and gasped a final time, went entirely limp, without a word or a breath.

She poked at him, and he didn’t move or twitch. Could she do finger-CPR without crushing his little bones? Would it even help? Is this the lifecycle of the fruit people?

She picked him up and held him to her ear; no breathing.

She picked up the seed.

Janet gathered together a shoebox, a small shovel, a flower pot, and some potting soil.

One Comment

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  1. Ann Ritter / Jun 1 2012 3:54 pm

    What is this seed going to produce? Scary!

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