~This romance of oranges was written in Honor of Matt De La Pena and Caroline Sun, and my friends, Derek and Renata Garcia.~
Love came to me during a sunny day with nothing but the glory of the skies above. The skin on my body was rippled with sweat as the water from the grove sprinklers sprayed over us, rooting the soils and splattered on my skin. Atop the second lowest branch, where I lived, the Earth was at peace and the wind breezed through the leaves with a soft gentleness upon my whole body, round, supple and naturally orange.
My name was Pomelo, but others called me Junior, because I was a medium sized gent with a penchant for water drops. At times I screamed to the top most branch where Old Pomelo was and he always said, "Son, there will come a time when your worth will enhance human kind. Think of all the many oranges in the world and the vitamins we preserve. We are giants of lineages of fruits!" I believed him, no matter how low I was to the ground and how much rotting days approached. I was sure I would one day be picked for something great.
My buds came early last Winter, and the grovesman planted a special fertilizer upon Mother to feed her nutrients. She sighed of relief as her branches drooped and she breathed out "growth" from the eye of her bark and kissed each Pomelo with a drop of liquid love. Pomelos lived hundreds of years and at times, thousands, depending on the grovesman and purveyor. We were their birthed inheritance, and treasured investments, so we all trusted on their kindness for foods, lodging, births of new buds and fertlization.
But,...all dreams of family and love plucked out of me when a grovesman came and poked me. He took his syringe, as large as 50 mililiters, and sucked out the spirit and vitamins into his tubes. The orange fluid flowed into the plastic bottle, and I wiggled out of fear. "Please pluck me and have me with a decadent joy. Instead of taking my life this way. Please, spare me the suffering and bitterness of a rotting body over Summer and Fall. Please...," I pleaded and pleaded. He was ignorant and kept depleting my vitamins and body fluids. I wanted him to peel me off, and I felt I was sacrificed as a useless scrab. Uneaten waste was my destiny. He left with those plastic tubes of my juices as I wept.
"Don't worry, my dear," I heard a voice. Her soft motherly voice came to my leaves and I heard her next to me. It must be the next tree nearby. I looked up, and I saw her, another orange, with a different life, different trait, different beauty. She was the most gorgeous species I've ever seen. Her skin brighter than my dark orange, with her peels matched the sunshine above us.
"I am Mandarin," she whispered, and giggled. She was smaller in size, but so beautiful, with perhaps a nectar sweeter than I could ever imagine. "We will meet again, but for now, let's dive deep our souls into our buds and branches for the sake of life. Our buds will regrow, and a new progeny will come," she explained.
"Mandarin, you've gotta tell me your nickname," I said. "Mine is Junior."
"Mei-Mei," she said. "I was planted when Mother was just a small three feet high."
"Your Mother was an immigrant? I was native here, but Mother has been here for decades." I told her.
"I know. We were planted here next door, for a new life," she said. "The Grovesman worked inside the plantation for a study. We are their main focus."
I, Junior, never understood "studies." I hoped it won't left my soul rotting away in the heat that my peels grew fungus.
"Stay quiet, they're back," said Mei-Mei.
Mandarins were beautiful, with a gentle tartness on the palate that was small and meshed with the taste buds as desserts for men and women. Their kind were loved by Mother's ancestors. We were long lived friends and the descendants of their friendships. My heart on the buds of the branches breathed in a subtle pink hue of romance and love. I was mezmerized by Mei-Mei.
The grovesman came back, this time with more empty plastic tubes, yet, the searched for Mei-Mei, and palmed her in his hand. He kissed Mei-Mei, and inserted the syringe inside her body, and took a seed from her Mother, out of the top most branch, where another Mandarin had died out of the extreme heat in the Redlands Orange Groves.
Mei-Mei cried as her peels moistened, and I felt her spirit crept up the branch and stayed there. I did the same, leaving my body and peels at its place, as I crept up my branch to stay solemn upon the sympathy of the Mandarin carcass before me.
We grieved together, and often, we came out to the tip of our branch and cried together. Remininiscing the long gone friends who were plucked as we stayed in spirit in our branches and Mother caressed our souls with songs and melodies harmonizing with the wind.
Mei-Mei and I, Junior, bonded over Summer and over the dead carcass of friends unplucked and over-ripened. We didn't get plucked instead our bodies were preserved inside a covered plastic, and it was kept there as Specimen A and Specimen B.
Fall came and our souls sang together, in baby blue romance, bringing our hearts melodies of ripened red hues of love.
"We join us here, as souls to be. Our bodies lives on.....We gifted them with our harmony, and our hearts lives as one."
Mei-Mei and I sang all the time, and over Autumn, when our leaves fell as we grieved our barrenness and lifted our words of hope and faith to the Earth, for a harvest next season, in fortuitiy.
A month before Winter, a grovesman came and dug a deep hole nearby, and Mei-Mei noticed a seed was planted before us. I, Junior, didn't want to witness another Mother came to the grove without a welcome, therefore, I summoned the dead leaves to cover her on the Earthen soil, protecting her soul.
"Another Mother tree, Junior," Mei-Mei screamed. "Another family."
"We must wait, and we must warn them of the grovesman and the impending deaths and plucking seasons," I told her.
Rain poured, and the muddy ground almost covered the new Mother. She must struggle through it, but came a leaf, sprouting up. Not all seasons were meant to break you, because some were meant to strengthen you and birth a new life.
The grovesman chaffed the planted Mother, and fertilized her, letting her grew speedily over the soil. A month flew by, and the new Mother, stood tall, about a foot, with growing tendrils of leaves teasing me of new souls inside her core.
"We will have an extension of us, Junior," said Mandarin Mei-Mei. "I overhead the grovesman, researching of its budding season, and sending more water to splash over it. We will have some, too."
"What breed?" I asked Mei-Mei.
Uncontained of my joy, I perched over the tip of Mother's branches, and saw the new Mother grew. Months flew by, and a tiny flower came bursting out into the nothingness of the grove, bombastically exploding with colors of white and tiny buds surrounding it.
"Heeelllllooooooo SUNSHINE!" the little voice said. "Hello Mother, Hello Father!" The tiny flowers cracked the barriers of sounds between me, Junior, and my Mei-Mei, Mandarin romance.
"Father?" I asked. "There was never one."
"Mother?" Mei-Mei asked. "I was just a few buds amongst the many."
"Oh, not so fast with those self-deprecating thoughts! My name is Clementine! I am YOUR SON!" the tiny voice called out loud. It was vivacious and with a strong personality, and outburst of optimism inside him.
Mei-Mei and I, Junior, sighed and embraced the sound of the gentle wind as Spring kept on, and Clementine budded into small oranges, smaller than Mandarin, with peels as dark and smooth as me.
A grovesman approached, and plucked me first, then Mei-Mei, and our souls crept into the branches, but our bodies were to be the delight of man.
"Should I creep up to Mother," asked Clementine.
"My son, there are many things, we must say to you," I told him, as Fatherly as I could. "First, my name is Junior, and I am a Pomelo."
"My name is Mei-Mei, and I am a Mandarin," she said. "Echo. We must name him."
"Yes, I agree," I said. "Clementine is your family name, and your soul is ECHO!"
"That means.....I AM ECHO and I am a CLEMENTINE! I AM THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE NEW DAY!" said my son, Echo, the Clementine.
Our family stayed at the Redlands Grove since then, and new souls came and by, but life kept on, as fruits blossomed, and seasons never faltered, but families stayed together.
The End. Just Write.