by Sherri Turner
I spat out my mouthful, the remainder of the segment glistening red-flecked between my fingers. Ruby juice splashed on the stone floor.
“It’s got blood in it,” I said.
“It’s not real blood,” my mother said. “It’s red fruit. You’re lucky to have it. Most girls would be delighted to eat such a special thing.”
I thought about what had made the orange bleed. Was it hurt when it was picked, when it was cut? It wasn’t special, it was tainted and I didn’t want it.
My mother had little patience. There wasn’t money to waste on fruit for spoiled, ungrateful girls. She stood over me and watched me gag as she forced me to eat it. I didn’t want any oranges after that, in case they would bleed.
When my time came my mother told me again that it wasn’t real blood and that I was special now. Special enough to be given to a rich man who doesn’t mind tainted fruit and who gives me bowls of oranges and locks the doors behind him.
I am still ungrateful. I don’t want the big house and the fine clothes. I don’t want the oranges. I want to go back to when fruit was just fruit and the only blood that came from me was from a cut finger or a grazed knee.
But I am a lady now.
I have been plucked from the tree and I bleed and there is no going back.
Sherri Turner lives in Surrey with her husband. She has won prizes for both poetry and short fiction in competitions including the Bridport Prize, the Bristol Prize, the Wells Literary Festival and the Stratford Literary Festival. Her stories have also appeared in a number of anthologies. She tweets at @STurner4077.