Red Green Oranges

by Julie Frayn on October 8, 2014 in  Fiction - short stories

Stop! Collaborate and listen… Nope, Red Green Oranges is not about traffic lights. It’s another installment in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition. Round 1, Challenge 2, Group 15, 48 hours to write a short story, 1000 word max (which I hit, on the very dot). Here are the prompts:

  • Genre – drama
  • Location – an orange grove
  • Object – a shotgun

And here it is – let me know your thoughts!

Red Green Oranges

Goldie admired Tristan’s slender form, all stretched up, teetering on tiptoes. He snapped off an orange blossom and slid to the ground, his back against the tree’s trunk. “For my Marigold.” He held the white flower under her nose.

She got stoned off the dense, creamy citrus of the grove. The aroma of it, like perfume on crack, inebriating, penetrating, bordered on profane. Citrus porn. She took the bloom and tossed it over her shoulder. “I hate it when you call me that.”

“Well, I like it. How’d they know your hair would be the color of your name?” He tucked a strand of bottle-blonde behind her ear.

“They didn’t, jerk.” She smacked his arm, her lips grinning. “You know it’s mouse-poop brown.” She pointed to the part in her golden hair. “Quit trying to be all romantic and shit. We have to talk about this.”

“Oooh, I love it when you talk dirty to me.” He licked along the length of her neck, ground her earlobe between gentle teeth.

She closed her eyes, let the wet heat of his tongue work its magic. “We have to stop.”

His shook his head. “Nope. Can’t.” He chewed on her shoulder.

“What if Boyd finds out?”

“Boyd’s a Neanderthal. He doesn’t deserve you. Never did. Not even in high school.” He took her hand. “Besides, he won’t find out. He hates the orange grove.” Tristan kissed her fingertips. “Remember when we used to come here to read? To talk?”

Of course she remembered. The grove was her sanctuary. A peaceful asylum where the hell of life vaporized in the mist of a perfect dawn. Where she drowned in orange blossoms and let summer swelter ooze sweat from her bruised brow, let it pool in the hollow of her collarbone and drip into the chasm between her breasts. Where she could gorge on green oranges, like limes on steroids. She only shared that secret with Tristan, that oranges were better green. When they started to turn orange, it was too late. Like a yellow banana, or a stale marriage. On the verge of rot.

Sometimes Tristan would come. Sometimes he’d hold her hand. Sometimes she thought he’d loved her. That maybe she’d loved him back. Now that it was true, it was too late. She’d chosen Boyd.

Maybe girls really do marry their fathers.

Boyd never came to the grove. He’d rather prove his manhood to his jock pals by putting a bullet between a mama deer’s eyes. By jumping off the old Peace River Bridge, trying to avoid the rocks and not be crippled for life. Didn’t work for Reggie. Poor, stupid, Reggie.

She bit her lip and looked at her lap. “Were you in love with me then?”

Tristan smiled. “Since the first moment I saw you.”

She jumped up, picked a green orange, dropped back down beside him and slid her slender fingers under the soft peel. She handed him a juicy section. “I knew you did.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I was with Boyd. I mean, he wasn’t perfect, but he had that lost puppy quality. He needed me. And I needed to help him.” She sucked orange nectar from her fingers. “Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you hope.”

Tristan tucked one finger under her chin and lifted her face. “It’s never too late, Goldie.” He touched his lips to hers, kissed her cheek. “Leave him,” he whispered in her ear. He undid the top two buttons of her dress, slipped his arm behind her shoulders and eased her to the dirt.

She grazed his cheek with the back of her hand. “I don’t know how.”

The shick-shick of a round being chambered in a twelve-gauge Remington 870 pump ricocheted about the grove.

“Shit.” Goldie pushed Tristan off and scrambled to her feet.

Boyd stood five yards away. The setting sun backlit his large frame and reflected terracotta from the barrel of his shotgun.

“Boyd.” Goldie held one arm out toward him. “Boyd, honey, just chill out.”

His face was a mass of swollen red eyes and dripping, bulbous, shiny nose. “You’re fucking him, aren’t you?”

Tristan stood. “Put the gun down, Boyd. There’s no need for a damn gun.”

Boyd raised it and stared down the barrel. His face contorted and fresh tears poured down his cheeks. “I thought you were my friend.”

Tristan cocked his head. “Friend? We were never friends. I was your bitch. The guy you liked when your buddies weren’t around. The guy whose head you flushed in a toilet when they were. The guy coach made do your math homework so you wouldn’t fail and get booted off the team.” Tristan took a step forward. “I only did it for Marigold.”

A vein on Boyd’s forehead pulsed in time with Goldie’s hammering heart. The gun flailed through the air with every wild gesture of his arms. “She’s my wife!”

Goldie stepped in front of Tristan. “Boyd, put the gun down and I’ll come home with you right now.”

He looked as if she’d put a bullet in his heart. “You don’t want to. You want to hang around this stupid, stinking grove. You want him!” He waved the gun in Tristan’s direction.

“Boyd, honey, I love you. I do.” She edged toward him. “The truth is, neither of us is happy and you know it. But unhappiness isn’t fatal. We’ll get through it.” She peeled the gun from his fingers, her eyes locked on his.

He broke down and wept. She tossed the gun aside.

A shotgun blast exploded in the dusk. Goldie spun around, breathless. Tristan clutched his chest with one hand. “Goldie?” His voice was a high-pitched squeal.

She dropped to her knees. Oranges littered the ground, their green peels dripping crimson. Her wet, red dress clung to her skin. Hadn’t she worn blue? The grove spun. She landed in the dirt and stared at the night sky.

She closed her eyes to the sound of Boyd’s screams.


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