Rows upon rows, of choices to make! Tiny mountains of apple, orange and grape. The flurry of voices, and far cries around, “Only the best for sale! Not available year round!” The wafts of crisp peach, and then followed by cream. The little man was wide eyed - had he entered a dream? Hiding a nickel against his tiny brown wrist, the opportunity to spend it was too much to miss. The warmth of a hand that led him this day, it was the same hand that would lead him astray. The rest so predictable, but not the mind of this boy. No interest had he, in car, fence, or toy. His hunger, his famish, a rash burned in his look could only be soothed by the touch of a book.
A gesture toward fruit, and then a breaking of glass. A fear deep in his gut started to mass. Like full pots of curry rising to top, the tears bubbled and started to drop. The hand he held dear pushed him away. “You are too young boy, you put me to shame!” An entire display strewn onto ground. The life of the market held breath, and waited for sound.
Emerged from the silence, an old man stretched out his hand. “Why boy, do not mourn, we do what we can.” The tiny hand was cold from clenching the coin, and it is with this knob the old man’s hand did join. He picked up a basket, and started to move, picking up orange from hole, foot, and groove. With boy in one hand, and vision behind, there wasn’t a single doubt he couldn’t unwind. But when the basket was full, and it wasn’t enough space, the hope quickly withdrew from the boy’s sorrowed face.
“We’ll never get them all,” the boy forlongingly said. There is so much to take, and only so much room in my head. The old man looked down at the basket, curiosity in his eye. He looked back to the boy. “Tell me cause for this long, lonely sigh?”
“Our basket is sized according to rule. As with 12 seats, there are only 12 allowed in school. The ones we have chosen, are the ones we must take. There is no going back, we have made final stake. And yet you’ve chosen the ones that seem to be brown. They are freckled and different, they carry no crown. If I am to use my earnings on such, my father will be disappointed to lose so much.
The rush of his tears filled up the place, they covered the market, every corner and space. The amount to be known, was too much to take, but without such understanding, no scholar he’d make. The oranges were lost, reduced to the dirt by his feet, and the expectations of himself for the market he’d never meet. Amongst the smell of citrus, sun, and self doubt, his lips curled into a long final pout.
Now the old man, you see, also carried this pain. But he knew that personal condemnation had nothing to gain.
The fruit is prolific, he said with a smile. The joys that you might feel, they are equaled by sorrows. You might have one today, but it won’t be the same one tomorrow. You will never truly have one; from time you cannot borrow. But the experience of the flesh, the sweet juice run down your face. This joy belongs to you, it need not carry time or have place. Your evaluation of scope, you think you find rule. And perhaps this is how they teach you in school? But when one is great, must two then be better? What is one and two, but concepts of matter? The oranges you see, are not for the eye. Yet this is how you judge them, and by counting your pie. The colored bumps of brown, black and gold, indeed be sign that the fruit might be old. What you do not see, unless you take chance, is the way they tickle the tongue, the flavors that dance. It cannot be written in any scholarly pen. The nows take all preference, and never the when.
The boy understood when he looked down at his feet. His sampling of the space was never complete. But this was the beauty of life, not picking up all fruit to take. The cupfulls of unknown make for more interesting cake. The uncertainty hits hard, direct like a shot, and only this force can influence your plot. The fruit left behind carries no state. It is this truth left behind that you cannot partake.
He left from the market; he found what he sought. Unexpected by all, just one orange he bought. The burden of price was no longer useful to him, nor the incessant expectation to react to such whim. It was the best purchase he’d made, because it wasn’t driven by fear. It was his acceptance of blindness that would make him a seer. The journey for himself was his knowledge and heart. And he’d found the answer one orange apart.
for my dear friend
Sochat, Vanessa. "Oranges Apart." @vsoch (blog), 24 Jul 2017, https://vsoch.github.io/2017/oranges-apart/ (accessed 07 Aug 22).