Memory of an Orange
| by Nancy Gustafson |
She saw neighbors and friends hauled away in trucks, some jammed like cattle onto trains, and witnessed the murder of her parents. She shivered through the war years, huddled in gray alleys and bombed basements, fearful and hungry every day, yet never shed a tear. The day a GI in a speeding jeep tossed her an orange, she leaped, caught it on the fly, cradled it dripping in her hands, inhaled its pungent fragrance, devoured the tangy peel and membranes, its sweet sections bursting in her mouth, licked her lips, her palms and fingers, unwilling to waste a precious drop of this gift — more than a gift: a covenant with life, like sacred host on her tongue. She buried her face in her hands until its golden scent vanished, until only the memory of the orange remained. Finally, she began to cry. Tears gushed from her eyes like blood and water, seeped between her fingers, splashed onto the scuffed toes of her shoes, tumbled like a waterfall onto the cobbled street. She wept until all that remained of herself was an infinitesimal flicker of hope.