I might have been around nine the last time I ate some fruit, and as unhappy as I was about it at the time, I never considered it might be more than food. Last week, I bought three nectarines from the grocery store, because I remember quite well loving them as a child and happily eating them in substitute of other less healthy snacks. I awoke two days later, and suddenly noticed said nectarines sitting in my fruit bowl, where I had left them, now starting to rot. Is that the terminology? I don’t know much about fruit, I rarely ever buy it and now I never will. At the grocery store, I had taken on the burden of having fruit in my home like a teenage mom: not purposely, perhaps doubtfully, but hopeful all the same. Either way, they were starting to go all bruised and brown, and I hadn’t felt so hurt and offended in weeks. The fruit I spotted, remembered, hand picked, bought, and took back with me had begun to shrivel, taunting me in my very home by slowly killing itself, ceaselessly hurting my feelings like a rebellious teenage girl I had painstakingly raised. What was I to do, now, I thought, staring at this fruit?
All that was left seemed to be death and rejection, made all the worse by the knowledge that the nectarines were not ultimately at blame, and neither was I all that much, but if anyone was at any fault, it would absolutely be me. I was reminded of a younger version of myself, years into my sensitivity, months before my obscurity, and I don’t believe she is to blame. Is my mother, then, at fault? I would be inclined to say no, but she dealt me my cards as much as anyone ever could. An innocent muse in the hands of a careless artist will perish if not cared for properly, no matter how much said artist may love and care for nectarines. Unless you harden yourself into a Napoleonic horror, you’ll rot and your soul will die innocently. The artist will be left with the emotional aftermath, and I suppose when you’re the nectarine, that doesn’t sound too bad. Mothers, though , seem to have it very difficult, I suppose. I might just give mine a call.
Two days later, I left my apartment again, to go somewhere. Not for the first time, I thought that all I wanted to do was leave and just go Anywhere, where there would be no somewhere to go all the time. In Anywhere, there are no people to look at me and judge me. Anywhere is a place where the world does not itch and scratch and rub at my reddened, overstimulated senses, and people will look at me and I will be dumb and the looks won’t burn at all. When driving, though, I think I get a little taste of what Anywhere would be like. When you drive, you aren’t static, rather, you’re in constant motion and you’re looking outside and breathing fresh air. But nobody ever looks at you, or asks you questions, or judges you or touches you. You are all alone with your steering wheel and the sky, and that, I think, is very nice. It may not be the alone part that makes it so wonderful, however. I am alone, yes, thoughts cannot creep in like old men with malign intentions when I’m driving, because I am distracted all the while. There are certain long stretches of road where there are no other cars around me for miles, the kinds of roads where billboards read IF YOU DIED TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU SPEND ETERNITY? On those dreamy roads I sometimes feel like I could finally travel; leave my house. On those roads, I might be able to see the whole entire world and never any of the people in it, like raising an infant that never grows older, buying fruit that never goes bad.
Yet, that day, when I was driving somewhere after the fruit incident, I hadn’t managed to find such a heavenly road of equilibrium, yet I had managed to get myself into traffic on the highway, and dreams of Anywhere fluttered to death in dusty circles like the butterflies I trapped in my tiny hands as a child. Sitting in traffic, the driving spell had broken, and, in an effort to dull the blade of panic, I craned my head to look out the window and up at the sky. We had studied the shapes of clouds and what they meant in school, but I’m never able to remember them for the life of me. So much of that useful information seems snuffed out as time goes on, much like any sort of youthful prettiness I may have had when I learned about the clouds. Now, though, there were a great many of them in the sky, and very tall with tops that looked like cauliflower tops, but not so much so as to obscure the sunny blue of the sky.
What was more, the bottoms of the clouds were all completely flat, all of them level with regards to one another, and completely, entirely flat. I couldn’t tell if these clouds were trying to creep in, pushing down on us, or if maybe we were pushing up on them and forcing them out. If we were, though, I was much more inclined to blindly accept it, whatever the reasoning was. These clouds looked very ominous, pushing down on our uncomfortably large heads, so I was inclined towards the former. Why was nobody else noticing this? I sat there dumbly, cloud cotton balls stuffing my ears and closing off my brain as the gravity of my realization, and the numbness that came with its solidarity, rang through my skull.
Why was nobody else noticing this?
I don’t know.
Angie Starcevic is a 16 year old high-school student who loves cats and reading, horseback riding, and drinking way too much Diet Coke. She speaks Serbian and English, and she's very much ready to move out of North Carolina.