I wonder who it’s for? I’ve always hated oranges. I used to watch my aunt peel them over her speckled brown ash tray, the Virginia Slims slowly buried in citrus. They stained her long, unpainted nails, and it seemed as if she was peeling away her own bitterness with every thoughtful puncture. I should clarify: I’ve always hated the taste of oranges, of searching my mouth for the angry seeds. The texture—too overwhelming. But I would still mimic my aunt and pretend I loved them as she did, swallowing every unwanted slice.
I live in those Virginia Slims memories when I wake one night to smell my girlfriend’s clementine dreams. But that’s before I notice her skin turning tangelo, ballooning in a way that reminds me of the claymation in James and the Giant Peach. Her head feels like moon sand as my fingertips mold the divots where her lips used to be. She doesn’t stir when I dig my chewed nails into the skin—her skin?—and chip away, revealing veins and a paler shade of orange creamsicle. Piles of pith and zest cover my bed sheets in fistfuls until she is completely exposed.
I reach toward where her scalp used to be and find an opening, a slice to take from the right side of her swollen face, leaving an empty space in its place. The slice is heavier than I imagined, and I cradle it like a teddy bear before bringing it to my mouth. When I sit up and glance at the mirror, I laugh at the disproportionately large orange-slice-smile that blocks most of my face. Despite the angry seeds and guilt and juice dripping down my arms, I chew the pulp. My thirst for the sweetness of her dreams is all-consuming, and soon I’m only left with bitter pith that I continue to eat in handfuls. The remnants are web-like strands that cocoon me into believing I might be forever full and safe from wanting more, until I look at her—almost whole—and crave another bite.
Zoe Raine is a queer writer pursuing an MFA at Western Washington University (recently trading Michigan snow for Washington rain). She found her love of literary magazines through interning at Passages North and is now a fiction editor for Bellingham Review and reader for Fractured Lit. Her work is featured (or forthcoming) in The Hunger, Maudlin House, Lost Balloon and A Velvet Giant. You can find her on Twitter @ZoRaineMaki1.
Hanna Marie Dean Wright is a self-taught folk artist residing in Keavy, Kentucky. She uses her experiences from growing up in rural South-Eastern Kentucky, teaching special education classes, and living with obsessive compulsive disorder to inspire her unique works of art. Hanna Wright uses bold lines and bright colors to create abstract figures with relatable and at times deeply emotional expressions. Hanna was born in Barbourville, Kenucky on April 15th, 1993. Hanna graduated from the University of the Cumberlands in 2015 with degrees in Special Education Behavioral Disabilities and Elementary Education.