(Note: Lately, I’ve been writing sub-500 word essays — experimental ditties, really — mainly to wean myself from two things: (a) perfectionism and (b) writing ridiculously long stuff that no one has time to read. Some of these experiments may appear here. This is one.)
In the run up to writing this, I have eaten almost a quarter of a rotting watermelon. The juice was so clear and darkly pink and sweet, that I almost dribbled it down the front of my shirt in my enthusiasm to lap it up. Its flecks of fruit flesh coated my face.
By the watermelon, there was a bottle of Pellegrino, dark green and shapely. And then a flask of juice, its seal still unbroken, filled to the brim with the blood of a hundred oranges.
I did not touch them.
Nor did I touch the bag full of chervoniy mahk, the Ukrainian candies stuffed full of poppy seeds and chocolate, wrapped in crinkly wrappers printed with red poppies. They were a birthday present, two bags of them. I take out a candy or two each day, reverently unwrap it, ball up the little wrapper, and bite off a quarter of the candy, a half. The whole thing disappears. A little foreign visitor, never to be seen again.
But, as I said, I left them all alone this afternoon, in favor of the over-ripe pulpy friend who sits on the counter, rind weakening and shriveling, the green growing darker and blacker, the tender and rosy-hued marrow pulling away and rending itself of its own accord, and, at the bottom, that deep abyss of juice which dapples and quivers, the quarry full of tiny translucent fragment corpses of melon that bob and sink and bob.
In the fork went, again and again. The aging melon succumbed. I ate my fill.
There is still a bit left, although it’s all beginning to feel granular and old on the tongue. Its life has been stretched too far. The melon itself tastes intoxicated, as if it has had its fill of light, drunk deep of the wine under the tree root, and now thinks of its own death.
As a child, I dreamed up a novel about little girls who formed a Watermelon Club that gathered on fading Indian blankets in the middle of Ohio fields, supping on thick, river-cold melon wedges, drinking goblets of watermelon juice. Always the field was taut with heat and sun. Always it was July, my favorite month, the month of my birth.
The plot never went farther than that bleached image of a little gathering, that collection of children and dolls and cool, sweet rinds, all happy and frozen in summer.
No. Now, with the watermelon heavy inside me, I remember something else: The girls had a secret plan. They would hide from the world forever, alone in their field, and no one — not death or their mothers or anyone — could catch them, and they would find out everything, everything that was to be found, until there were no more mysteries, and the club would meet, forever, in July.***
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