SPOOF NOT PUBLISHED, Sunday, December 2, 2012
“When you split the hard fruit open, a mass of red seeds in a spongy white membrane is revealed. Only the seeds, with their sweet-tart flavor and juice squirting texture, are edible.” Product description, Garden of Eden
Isabella leans up from the sink, face flushed, pink juice dripping down her quivering chin – and then reluctantly tears herself from the rind of the seeded apple. Her knees are weak.
Eating her first pomegranate of the season, there is that familiar but Oh-my fresh thrilling, the headiness no other fruit can induce in her. She is hot, even in the cold of the midnight kitchen, because, yes, she is eating her initiatory pomegranate at midnight on a Tuesday in December because the full moon has wreaked its raging havoc upon the veils of her inner goddess, the goddess that is hungry, thirsty, and perpetually unsatisfied… and yet, also veiled.
Other seeded orbs are hidden safely away in the refrigerator for another day: will she tame them or will they tame her? She gasps. She does not know why, it just happens. The words “submission” comes to mind, again for no apparent reason. Can a piece of fruit have such power?
With stained and trembling hands, she finds the hard knob of the faucet and turns it on, letting the water gush, and then slowly washes the sweet, sticky remains from her face. A moonbeam shines in through the small kitchen window, hitting her obliquely at the nape of her neck and then down her extended arms –and she pauses, thoughtful, bitter seeds stuck in her back teeth like flies in a screen porch door in the dead of summer. Seasons are interchangeable. Time has stopped. Only the beat of her heart keeps time, moving her forward and through the excruciatingly sublime present wherein she is captive to her senses.
Is there any other fruit but this one?
There was! Just a few days ago, there was — she’d even told someone at the grocery store that plums were and had always been her favorite fruit, had always given her just what nourishment was needed. Who was it she was talking to, again? Oh. That skinny man-boy picking the wrong cantaloupe. In the plaid shirt and glasses, with tousled auburn hair, storm blue eyes, high cheek bones and white teeth.
“Please,” she’d stopped him brazenly, holding the cantaloupe down on the pile by placing her hand on his. “You mustn’t.” The melon wasn’t nearly ripe, surely not ready to be sliced open and de-seeded by his amateur hands. He’d released the cantaloupe-colored globe and stared at her, and then at the plums from South America in her basket.
At the bidding of her domineering and sometimes bossy inner goddess, she had gushed on about plums and their sweet fleshy insides, their tart, taut skins. Plums with their ridiculous jewel tones, their meaty cores clinging to rough pits. Plaid boy had blushed deeply and then moved toward the pyramid of said fruit in close proximity, looking back at her as she nodded him closer and closer to them, urging him on.
That was then. This is now. Now it is winter and punica granatum, an early native to Persia and fortuitously brought to California in 1879, is all Isabella can think of, its arils, bead-like, translucent, and plump. Her fingers have just extracted –tenderly, greedily — its pink pearls of love.
Suddenly, she notices a portion of the pomegranate that she senses has not been fully picked clean and reaches hungrily for it. Pulling back the white flesh, she gropes for treasure until, finally, she hears the plink of a stray granule hitting the steel of the sink. She picks it up, lays it on her tongue, and then maneuvers it between her teeth, bearing down until she pierces the flesh, and then lets it burst in her mouth, finally cracking the astringent seed. Exquisite torture, sweet going to bitter and bitter back to sweet. The drop of liquid nectar releases into her throat. She swoons and her inner goddess swoons even more, swoons so much she melts into her veils and disappears in a purple puff of liquid smoke.
It is bedtime, and Isabella, spent, tiptoes up the stairs in her bare feet, lit candle in hand. Though the pomegranate has left its indelible marks — tiny specks of crimson flecked on her nightshirt, red under her nails, pink rimming her lips — when she wakes up, will she remember her romp in the night, her silent tryst, her tête-à-tête with the red head of the seeded apple under the opalescent light of the Beaver moon? Or will she, wandering about through the starker light of day, merely sense that something terribly sweet and juicy has happened in the night?