There's something so feral, so childlike, so cathartic about the experience of devouring an orange. It’s nature’s greatest reward; with some effort, you manage to break into the firm barrier of vibrant flesh. And when you do, it finally begins to seep over the wrinkles and bumps of your skin, before ultimately laying to rest between your fingers and at the base of your wrist. You can feel the stickiness now, can’t you? It’s daring and disgusting, it’s pure bliss. Your bare hands rip the fruit into eight segments – one for each version of yourself that you’ve loved and lost on the journey to becoming who you are in this particular moment.
The first segment resembles a tea party with an entourage of your closest confidants, seated under the banksia tree in your very first backyard. You couldn’t possibly leave anyone out, it wouldn’t be fair; Barbie, Hannah Montana, Cabbage Patch Kid, Baby Born, and all the Bratz assure you that you make the best iced tea they’ve ever had.
The second tastes like a Tuesday afternoon under the sun; the breeze that threatens to swallow you at your highest peak on the rusty swing set. Dad promises that he won’t let you fall – and you’re not sure why, but you know that you can trust him. In fact, you’ve never felt safer.
The third doesn’t go down quite as smoothly – it’s like the first time you ever took a knife to the fruit and nicked the tip of your finger. Safe to say you let mum go back to cutting them after that, but don’t let the sour taste deter you from segment four.
You can practically feel the sand between your toes and the salty water licking the skin of your bare shoulders. The sound of your friends giggling and shouting words of warning about the next wave crashing towards you all. You’re like a pod of dolphins, just with much less grace.
The fifth feels like you’ve earned it. It’s like that first hit of hydration on the side of the sporting field; the overwhelming emotion of the crowd. But it’s not over yet, scores are uncertain and the game must go on.
Number six is your first tequila sunrise at the bowling club just down the road. The silent pride of swapping out the fire engine for something a little more dangerous. Nan said she might take you for a go on the pokies after lunch. You hope they make you show ID again.
Seven isn’t exactly heaven, but it could’ve been. Lips tangled and hearts mangled, you realise you wouldn’t change a thing. This one has the comfort of a warm cup of tea on a lonely night, and you notice the sensation of freshly washed sheets invade your senses.
The eighth and final segment makes you want to treat your younger siblings to a trip to the amusement park. You want them to experience the roller coaster you’ve just been on, and can’t think of a better way to express it to them. A teaser before they finally get the real, zesty goodness one day.
You fight every impulse to head straight to the kitchen and wash away the evidence. Instead, you sit with it for a while, revelling in the sweet scent of peel beneath your fingernails. With a citrusy breath, you consciously inhale and exhale. Maybe you’ll give mum a call and tell her all about it.