Meet Me in the Park

Day 5: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. The twist is to make it brief. Sadly, brevity is not my strong point.  AND I barely had time to write this let alone edit it since my baby boy is super sick today. Please excuse my mistakes and inconsistencies.

I’ve no way of knowing how long it had been there. I walk this path every day to and from work, and I hadn’t seen it before. Of course that doesn’t say much at all. I’m not exactly the most observant of people. J often muses that if I’m ever witness to a crime, I will be utterly useless in a lineup or to a sketch artist. And that’s not too much of an exaggeration. I’m so wrapped up in my own head that I often get home without realizing I’m there or don’t hear the doorman saying hello as I walk right by him. Aloof, I suppose you could call me, and it wouldn’t be an insult since it’s the truth.

So why I managed to notice this letter as I happened upon it is beyond me. Perhaps it was its stark whiteness against the lime of the meadow. Perhaps if it was still winter, and not in the throes of spring with its budding colors all around, I might have missed it. It would be easy enough to ignore surrounded by like colors. Perhaps it was just happenstance that the letter slid into my peripheral and stayed there. Whatever the reason, I noticed it and picked it up, intrigued.

Upon picking it up, I noticed its dampness and its odor of earth mingling with something floral. Though it was brightly white at the center, the left hand side, where it peeked out from the bush, was a shade or two darker, drying, and starting to curl at the edges. The handwriting was the script of the past. Perfect loops and curves, carefully written so that the quality of the writing itself intended to communicate the seriousness of the writing’s content.

It was warm that day. Warm enough by now that my walk’s exertion had left a thin layer of perspiration upon my face and left me to remove my light jacket. It was the type of day one dreams about during the long, harsh winters to get through the darkness of spirit it brings.

I sat down on the nearest bench. Certainly I could have perused the letter where I stood, where I found it, but something told me to find a seat and give the letter my full attention.

Dearest K–,

It is done. I wasn’t sure I had the wherewithal to go through with what I had purposed, and the more I delayed the inevitable, the more I began to lose my resolve. I had almost given up the idea entirely until in he walked in, stark drunk and smelling of her again, and then I knew that no matter the consequences, I had to do this. I couldn’t keep up the ruse any longer. Though he was perfectly content in pretending, I could no longer tell my heart no.

And so, I looked him straight in the eye, told him I was leaving, and that he shouldn’t ever bother looking for me. He could keep the house and the money. It was all useless to me now that I have you. As you can imagine, that last bit of information did not go over well with him.

Of course he cursed and shouted and threatened to destroy me. To tell the papers all my secrets. To out me to all my friends and colleagues. He howled for what felt like hours while I stared impassively at him.

Whether from the drink or his surprise, his rage, I observed, slowly turned his face a deep blood red. At first I was frightened and thought he meant to hurt me. But then I noticed his face resembled a perfect match to the cherries we had eaten in bed that weekend up north. And then I smiled. I didn’t mean to! I didn’t want to enrage him more. But I couldn’t help smiling when I thought of you dangling those ripe fruits above my face, juice having stained your full lips a brazen color. And in that moment I knew with full certainty that I had done the right thing.  And nothing he could or would say to me would ever mean a thing. And that I was finally free.

So, my dearest love, I write to you to prove to you that I am no coward, and that I am a woman of my word. And to ask you to meet me at our spot in the park at the time we planned for.

I can imagine the look of your surprise, the careful, hesitant curl of your painted lips as you see me walking toward you with my small bag. I know you thought I wouldn’t go through with it. No matter, my dear, I will pick you up and twirl you around and kiss you full on the mouth no matter who is watching. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks if we have each other. They can all go to hell!

Meet me, my love. Let’s begin our lives.

Yours ever,

B–

I don’t know how, but I must find them.

Oranges

Luckily it had rained heavily this past week. The scent of earth hung in the air like angels. Steam could be faintly seen emanating from the ground in the fields showing how hot it had been here lately. Birds flew about, rejoicing in the renewed source of hydration.Even the crickets and cicadas came out for a midday romp instead of hiding from the oppressive sun as they’d been had to do as of late.

We had been experiencing a record-breaking dry spell this month which was especially disconcerting to the farmers who were hoping for a really spectacular rainy season. They could really use it after last year’s drought and subsequent economic downturn that forced most of these men–even the older ones who hadn’t really worked in decades–to pull in any and all odd jobs they could find.

You see, oranges are the biggest cash crop where I’m from and normally by this time in the season the oranges are swollen globes as big as a grown man’s fist. The burden of their weight causes the branches of the trees to droop so low they do toe touches. The pungent sweet scent of them wafts through the air and can be noticed miles away from the plantations. And the rich, loamy soil cakes and crumbles in my fists as easily as my grandmother’s tea cakes.

I know all of this because my family has owned orange plantations for more generations than even my granddaddy, the town’s unofficial historian, can remember. And even though I’m only 15 years old, I am expected to do my fair share of work around here.

I’m in charge of picking up the overripe fruit that were overlooked during picking and now lay rotting on the ground covered in tiny black ants traveling in and out of the makeshift city they’ve created in the oranges’ flesh. I’m told I must clear one hundred yards a day and not touch any of the fresh oranges still swaying tauntingly on their branches; but, I may enjoy as many pieces that have fallen to the ground and are still edible.

On most days I will clear the rows for long enough time to bore my little sister who, against my wishes, tags along each and every morning. And once she wanders off to taunt the stray black tomcat who lives under our back porch, I will pluck off of one of the branches the most perfect orange I can find and then curl up against my favorite tree and lose myself in a book.