It wasn’t necessarily obvious to Jordan why he’d kept the damn thing at first, as he leered out the window, staring daggers at the back of his stepdad who was preparing to wash his car for third time that week. He’d never particularly been a big fan of fruit, unless it came preblended in a smoothie, but there was something in the hollow thud its flesh made as it hit his bedroom floor that piqued his interest. That and he couldn’t give Nigel the satisfaction of showing any form of reaction which had caused him to leave it where it now idled.He resumed his surveillance. Sometimes, Jordan thought, if there was an opportunity that guaranteed he could get away with it unpunished, he’d love to smack that Karcher jet wash right across Nigel’s pudgy face.
Jordan mused that whilst he may not be the best academically, even he could identify the contrariness of his stepfather’s frugal nature. He certainly appeared quite the spendthrift when it came to financing his pearly veneers or a new motor, yet guffawed at the price of the trainers he’d pointed out, when asked, by his mum. “You’ll be lucky if that’s all you get” was what he’d spat at him later when she was out of earshot; launching the orange at him.
He wasn’t against his mum moving on, was all for her being happy, but why him? That was the question which consistently stuck in his throat. Especially in the mornings when he dutifully attempted to chew through monstrously oversized toast all because dear Nigel insisted on banishing pre-cut loafs and neither he nor his mother could cut a decent slice out of the seeded crap he bought. Even the toaster got the no-nonsense treatment and was prematurely taken from them to ensure they used the grill.
“I didn’t even get to say goodbye” he had later jested to friends when playing down the development, yet the removal of the humble appliance niggled at his subconscious nonetheless. It wasn’t the extra effort it took to slice the bread that irked him, but the lack of consultation which really grated, leaving an acidic taste in his mouth.
Heavy legs folded as Jordan let his back slide down the wall, hand gathering the unremarkable clementine, drawing it to him in an almost paternal fashion.
The weight surprised him as he extended his fingers to inspect what could in all reality be his sole birthday present.
Slowly he began to sway his hand in a gentle circular motion to gage its true mass. The smell of old dirt filled his nostrils and his mind glimpsed immeasurable rows of Russian nesting dolls, each devouring the other, bled of all colour. A bleak landscape of hunger.
His eyes widened further as the origins of an image he will never be able to explain to another projects before him, the door to his room becoming a movie screen as he sees Nigel on top of his mother, squeezing her slim throat. Despite the uncomfortable voyeuristic nature of the viewing, he forces himself to watch, an automaton of theatre as the hairs upon his stepfather’s back become slick to his skin through over exertion.
Unknowingly his right hand which cradles the small unpretentious fruit, begins to rhythmically caress it, as one might gently squeeze a lucky totem, as the provocative images continue their pre-watershed distribution.
When at last the graphic pictures cease, Jordan is struck profoundly by two images. The first is the corners of his mother’s closed eyes which despite their tight seal, are unable to prevent tears from escaping. The second being the look of arrogance on Nigel’s face as he takes profound pleasure in humiliating her. His mother who worked two jobs when his dad walked out on them and still insists on making his lunch despite his protests. His mother who, when he wet the bed following the rejection of his parental seed, laughed at the spreading dampness upon the mattress and advised it was at her age he needed to worry about incontinence and shared what had once been a marital bed with her only son.
A familiar sour taste bubbles at the back of Jordan’s throat as he peaks out of the window at Nigel, who continues to lather his precious motor. A faint noise drifts toward the open window and Jordan’s hands bunch into fists when he realises the smug bastard is whistling!
His closed palm begins to throb, which on opening, reveals the fruit to be in tact despite the pressure applied. If anything, it seems larger than before, swollen somehow, which only serves to regurgitate visuals Jordan would rather un-see.
Rage pulls at Jordan’s limbs, demanding he seek vengeance yet a shrill tinkling from upon his palm absorbs him.
As all the ways in which he could inflict pain upon Nigel dart through Jordan’s mind the fruit begins to pulse, its dimpled skin writhing, as though consciously feeding upon his antipathy.
Rather belatedly he is overwhelmed by a sweet melancholy for life as his fingernails dig into the rubbery zest revealing the Tardis like habitat within as a foul flesh spills upon his own, sinking thorny prongs beneath his soft skin.
It is not Jordan that steps upon the wet driveway but another, one much older, who wears his flesh as though it were a suit that fits too tight.
Jordan assumes the role of spectator as his limbs move under foreign command, steering him toward a figure he despises. Distant arms embrace Nigel in a woeful clinch of parting as with the intimacy of a lover, a cold breath reveals his host, shrouding his heart in a fatal mist of decay, resigning his stepfather to damnation and the gaping jaws of the many.