This is not a story. It is a piece of fruit. Pluck the paragraph, hold its weight in your palm. Rub it against your cheek, let it linger under your nostrils as you inhale. Inhale with your eyes closed. Inhale. It can be any fruit that you wish. It is not a strawberry from your grandfather’s garden, half-eaten by birds. It is not an apple you set down in your child’s lunch box, its tap echoing in the tunnel of your ears these twenty-something years. It is not the mango you watched your soon to be lover slurp from the peel and hold in her mouth like two tongues. It is not the hairy kiwi. It is a new fruit, the likes of which you have never seen before. Let your gaze be the knife. Slice the paragraph into sections. Fan them out across a plate. You know which plate. Perhaps the sentences are juicy. Possibly they are dried out, having lost all sweetness through evaporation. Select one sentence and slip it in your mouth, bring your teeth down into it, the words squirt up against the roof of your mouth, or they seep into the soft place under your tongue, or they do nothing, just grave there pulpy and savorless. Choose one particular flavor, one specific word. It can be any flavor you choose. It tastes like the last time your mother said goodbye, with a wave of honeysuckle, and the subtlest itch of pepper. If your eyes have closed, open them, bring your attention to the seeds, the letters of the fruit, the “r’s” and the “b’s,” the “x’s” and the “e’s” pinch them from the fruit flesh, or scoop them clean, or shake them free, this is your fruit after all. Because this is your fruit after all, do whatever you wish with the letters. Put them in the trash, release them into the yard, throw them out of your moving car, but save one. Save one. Take the letter. Maybe it is a “t’, or it could be a “q.” Set it in a pot and cover it in soil. Put it on your windowsill or put it on the nightstand. Put it wherever light shines for you. Water it however you wish. It might sprout. It might grow. It might lie dormant for seven years, and then one day, a shoot of green! It might already be dead for you. Any outcome is okay. Any outcome is perfectly fine. You are okay. You are fine. You are perfect. If your hands are sticky, let them be sticky. This is not a piece of fruit. This is a story.

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Caroljean Gavin’s work has appeared in places such as Pithead Chapel, Tiny Molecules, Barrelhouse and Bending Genres. She’s the editor of What I Thought of Ain’t Funny, an anthology of short fiction based on the jokes of Mitch Hedberg out from Malarkey Books. She lives in North Carolina with her two rambunctious sons, one goofy husband, and her one-eyed shih tzu named Moxie.