Julio Beneath the Orange Tree by Evan Guilford-Blake
September 23, 2013 Comments Off on Julio Beneath the Orange Tree by Evan Guilford-Blake
Julio sits against the trunk of the orange tree and watches the huge globes fall, thunk, one by (thunk) one on to the ground. He has been here for days, weeks, months, living on the tree’s largesse, which continues to drop, like enormous thick-skinned orange raindrops from an overflowing gutter the day after a storm.
He’s tried to walk away, to crawl away, even to roll away, but each time the fruit falls faster, building a wall that surrounds him, and pummeling him with a furious storm of orange that abates, as the wall tumbles, the moment he returns to lean against the trunk again. Fortunately, the (lone) tree is at the top of a small mountain: The oranges land, bounce, then most of them roll down the rocky slope he climbed toward the river below.
Margarita warned him! Julio, she said, the tree, it’s enchanted. No one has ever picked its fruit. Bah! he replied, It’s just a tree. He sighs. Just a tree! An orange tree on a mountaintop where the temperature never reaches seventy degrees. Where rain, and snow, and winds blow: Except beneath the wide branches where he sits and watches the world, and is untouched by it. He may spend the rest of his life sitting beneath the boughs of this “just” a tree. Eating oranges. The tree seems not to mind: It will sustain him, if it will not free him.
Night falls. So do more oranges, silvery black in the moonlight. He eats one, spitting out the seeds, then sleeps. He dreams of Margarita. In the dream, she splits the skin of an orange and, section by section, feeds it to him. He can taste her fingers, too.
A falling orange wakes him. He yawns and looks out over the river, at the bright yellow sun. Another orange drops: thunk. He picks it up, looks at its perfection. Then he sighs, rips the peel, eats the orange, and waits as another day passes.
© 2012 Evan Guilford-Blake
Evan Guilford-Blake’s prose and poetry have appeared in several anthologies, and numerous print and online journals including “The Nassau Review,” “South Florida Arts Journal,” “GringoLandiaSantiago” and “Soundings Review.” His stories have won 13 contests; two have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. “Noir(ish),” his first novel, was recently published by Penguin’s Dutton/Guilt-Edged Mysteries imprint. More information about Evan and his work is available at http://www.guilford-blake.com/evan