The world tastes of metal
Evan James Sheldon
The group of children scrambled and jumped and played their way through the orchard, occasionally lounging in the shade or hitting tree trunks with fallen branches. The orchard hummed gently—a deep buzz thrummed above their smalls heads. Only one little girl noticed.
Soon they grew hungry and found the limbs heavy with ripe fruit of all colors. They couldn’t reach the fruit though, and they couldn’t find any fallen among the grass and moss and thicket below. They looked about and found the trees with the lowest branches and lifted one another up, climbing on clasped hands and bent shoulders and backs. They swung out and clung to the hanging fruit until they fell in heaps of limbs and laughter. They had scraped knees and blossoming bruises, but they also had their fruit.
Cracking open the outer shells, which looked like pomegranates but were not pomegranates, the children discovered no sweet pith, but rather intricate metal mechanisms, whirling as they first split open the fruit and steadily slowing. This was not what they wanted, and the children grew angry and they threw the metal fruit against the ground and against tree trunks, and shattered the internal apparatuses into small showers of gears and brokenness.
Nearly everyone left the orchard then, still hungry, still angry, though they would forget all about it soon. All except for one girl, the same girl who had heard the orchard hum. She scooped up some of the shrapnel and placed it in her mouth. She dug a hole and placed herself in it, face to the sky.
Planted like this, she grew and grew into a wild tree, beautiful and veined with metal like filigree tattoos. And long after the other children had passed from the world and been buried by someone else’s hand silently in the dirt, she continued to grow and flourish.
Evan James Sheldon's work has appeared in CHEAP POP, Ghost City Review, Pithead Chapel, and Roanoke Review, among others. He is an Assistant Editor for F(r)iction and an Outreach Assistant for Brink Literacy Project.