The Flesh of the Orange Is Red
Years ago, my friend and I had sat under orange trees. We had sex, and after that, we had chocolate and dried sausages near a clouded ocean.
But now it is years later and winter, and I go to visit him in South Hadley. He has a little daughter, who he says he wants to take to some nearby woods.
“The woods are full of snow,” he says, “and she will love it if we put her on a sled and pull her through them.”
To get to the woods, we drive through another town, and then we pass some houses before the houses go away. We get to a road that turns to a dirt road covered with snow. As we approach the woods, the snow gets deeper, and under that snow and under the car’s wheels, I feel ice. I say that I won’t drive any farther because I’m afraid of getting stuck. “What woods are these?” I say.
“They are woods,” he says. His daughter doesn’t say anything.
We get out of the car. We take the plastic sled out of the trunk, tie some rope to it, and put his daughter in the sled.
“You drag her first,” he says to me.
It’s hard to pull her because under the snow there is ice, and I slip. He laughs the first time I slip, and his daughter does, too.
I slip again, and this time my legs shoot out from under me and shoot up above me. I never feel weightless, though I am off the ground. I feel heavy and sick when my back hits the ice. My head hits the ice.
“Good thing my head didn’t hit the ice,” I say but can’t really say.
He calls the police, but the police ask him where we are, and he can’t say anything but “They are woods.”
“They are woods,” I say but can’t say. I can’t say them.
He gets in the car—his daughter still sits beside me in her sled—but when he tries to back it up, the tires only spin on the ice. He tries to go forward, and the tires spin.
“That is a car,” I say but can’t say. I say that we had been near the ocean. I say each orange was something that I said. The chocolate was better than him.
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