Alice pulls an orange from the fridge where she placed it yesterday in anticipation.
First, she brings her teeth to the skin, breaking past just far enough for the tip of her finger. She hooks her nail and pulls apart the rind to reveal the soft fruit. She is sitting on her back porch where the sun hides behind a row of pines. Spring still bites at her ankles. It isn’t warmer than 50°. She bets the orange is 46°.
Alice thinks about the time she fell in love with a man only a week after meeting him; about peeling an orange under a tin roof in the summer rain, standing close enough to hear the snap of wedges in each other’s hands; she thinks about how he rubbed the peel into his palms, the citrus scent damp in the hot air.
Next, Alice removes the jacket in one clean sweep, laying the full rind next to her. She remembers finding a chrysalis half formed, the man’s voice hushed by the wind; remembers making a cut, one clean sweep, and the cocoon falling away from a half formed butterfly. Alice remembers feeling the weight of life right there and then, so close to the weight of an orange peel.
Drops of juice fall onto her bare legs, beads running the full length of her shins. She brings each slice to her mouth like an offering, a quelling.
Alice finishes the orange in under two minutes, feverish for the sour bite. She tilts her head back and squints up at the sky, closes her eyes against the open blue, almost hears rain drops against tin.
Olivia Kingery grows plants and words in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she reads for Passages North. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua or swimming while he watches.