Out of Nowhere

[est. reading time: 2’39”]

It was strange, as if she came out of nowhere. First, you have never met them, even though they have been on this planet for years. And then, they are there. As bright as the sun. An unfamiliar taste so exquisite and rare it is almost too much; like a flower in bloom suffocating you with its bittersweet fragrance. How could you have done without them for so long?

He looked at her, secretly glancing sideways, while she was peeling an orange. She wasn’t very good at it; cutting the peel too thick. Removing all the vitamins that ‘live under the skin’ as his grandfather would say. The old man had taught him how to use knives at a very young age. Not just for peeling fruit, but carving little dolls out of unused wood. Even killing chickens at the farm and skinning the small animals that they hunted. Nothing got wasted though, his grandfather saw to that. How different from his father, who couldn’t stand the sight of blood and only had processed food wrapped in plastic.

He sometimes wondered what happened. His father had grown up on the farm, surely he had done the same things as a boy, learning similar lessons from his father. It was hard to imagine his father as a child anyway. It seemed he had been an old man all his life. He recalled a sepia photograph in an album his dead grandmother once showed him. His dapper grandfather flanked by his two sons: one almost grown (his energetic uncle) and the other a small boy with hunched shoulders and translucent skin. His father.

The girl was very focused on her task and didn’t seem to realize he was watching her. She was actually a little clumsy, but he resisted the urge to offer to do it for her, because it made her charming. He looked at her hands, small fingers with short nails, nicely clipped. He wondered if she used to bite her nails and how much of an effort it had taken to stop that unattractive habit. ‘Do you want a piece?’, she asked with that sweet sing-song voice of hers, with only the slightest of accent giving away that she was born on a different continent. But when you looked at her closely, as he had been doing for the past ten minutes, you would think she was born in a different century.

It was the cliché of the bible and all those other tempting, alluring women in history. One bite of that orange and he would be lost forever. Even though he knew better. Even though he was only 22 years old. He had seen enough heartbreak to know that taking the bait was a bad thing to do. He knew his father had loved his mother and her death had taken all the joy from him as if he was perpetually short of breath. Had it been worth it, falling in love as a way to escape the life he had before? Running into the soft arms of the woman with the gentle green eyes; the eyes he only knew from photographs and from looking into at own reflection in the mirror.


* Image by Jeanne Illenye