Orange Trees Do Not Bear Warmth

Over the course of a day, there are many people to be seen. Passing people that just so happen to have the same name as you, or maybe they have even seen your childhood dog walking around the streets like a stray that one time he ran from your home. That dog is not a stray one, he has a food bowl in a heated house. He has a bed with emerald green corduroy pillows, and a blanket that you made when you were 12. Of course now, that dog is old. You’re old. You think you are old, but you are only 25, or are you 28? 

Your hair is frizzy today, I even took time to notice. I notice everything, you know? I see the stars in your irises and I see your face. I saw your face when you were 3 years old, at your older brother's birthday party. It was June of 2002, if I am not wrong. That day. It smelled like bouncy-castle-strawberries-and-cream-sweaty-shoes if I remember correctly. You do not remember, of course, but I was there. I jumped along with you on the bouncy castle before it deflated at the end of the day. It was all limp, so limp that you cried when the men disassembled the plastic wonders and drove away. I don’t think you remember. 


I am driving over to one of the many fast food places in my town. The red lights blur into awful little concussion-like stars that people get. I have never had a concussion before, but I don’t want to try to get one.

The midwest can get really sad sometimes. There are only fast food restaurants within a 5-mile radius of my house and whenever I drive alone, I always see eyes looking at me in the cornfields I pass. Glowing orbs that always end up being a random deer’s eyes. It is real weird when I can’t even tell if it’s a weird paranormal entity or just a deer’s eyes reflecting my car’s headlights in the night. 

I park my car and walk into the store. There is a middle-aged woman at the counter who looks almost like she is standing up and asleep at the same time. I feel bad for her. She seems unhappy. 

I am still unemployed after the earth that my job’s building was on decided to swallow up my boss, John. He fell through, disappeared and no one knows where he went. It is really odd because everyone seems to have moved on from the hole in the ground that ate him. I wonder if he is alive, or possibly decomposing. A pile of bones and rotting skin. Oh, John. I would save him if I could. I was home sick that day, the day he got swallowed up. I keep telling myself it is my fault, my fault that the ground opened up and consumed him. I knew it did because there were stitches in the ground in the spot, looking like an open wound. There was blood everywhere, not from John’s body but from the earth opening up. There was evidence on the security camera. 

I have been walking around meaninglessly because I don’t know where my life is going. I don't know if I should just move away from this town. Too many weird things are happening. It didn’t used to be like this. Although, my favorite thing about this place is the park with the oak trees. The ones that hover and sunlight filters through them. I used to have picnics there with my brother. 

At the counter, next to the old lady, my burger sits. Bubbly, speckled oil dripping onto the plate. I throw some ketchup and mustard into the to-go bag and stare off into space. I don't know where I want to go next. It is too late for foolish decisions, but I want to eat my oil-drenched meal where no one will see me. No one to judge. 

“Sir, uh, everything alright, hon?” the lady says in a concerned manner.

“Yeah, I'm alright. Heading out now. Thank you,”  I respond hesitantly. 

I am not a man. At least, I don’t look like one yet. I was happy she saw me as one though. I came out as trans in the 12th grade, but no one ever sees me as one. I haven’t transitioned yet.

I wear button up shirts with botanical prints on it, like the ones you can find at Ross. I have worn the same style of clothing for a while now, since I graduated from high school. My hair is a faded blue color, it reminds me of being seasick on a boat that you were forced to get on. 

I wear these stupid glasses at night so I don’t crash my car. They look like a grandma would wear them, because I am not out to my parents yet. My mom pays for my eye expenses. And yes, I still live at home. Still do my laundry in the same washer my parents have had since 30 years ago. Still the same staircase they went up when they put me into my crib at night. 

I used to fall asleep in the car on purpose so I would be carried up to my bed. They never followed through after a couple times trying, because they caught on. They got the memo. It didn’t occur to 4-year-old me that my parents couldn’t mind-read, so when I pretended to collapse, and pretended to be unable to breathe so the family dog would get concerned, they didn’t know I was just faking it. They took me to the neurologist to learn why I kept collapsing but I was trying to tell them through my imaginary telegram system that I was just faking it. They never caught on. Until I was old enough to know that I shouldn’t mess with health like that, because if something did happen, they would never know if I was faking it or not. 

I hopped inside my car. The radio turned on and some man got arrested for robbing a donut store. So midwest. 
Anywho, I decided to save my food and drive. Drive to nowhere. I drove and drove. Listening to angry banjo music and feeling completely and utterly lost in the world. In the tiny town I grew up in, I felt more lost than a single speck of dust floating in a messy room. I felt stuck. I felt unbalanced. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I never get angry, so this was something new. I sped on the highway until I took a breather. I started not being able to catch my breath. Taking a moment, I realized that I was near the office where John got sucked into the ground. I wondered what it would take to just run into the forest and disappear. It wouldn't be so hard. 

I stepped out of my car with my burger in hand. I took a bite, eating it bite after bite. Eventually, when I finished, I lay on the ground. I waited for something to happen at this abandoned building. I waited for minutes. Then came hours. My phone, which was in the car, was being flooded with notifications. My mom called. My sister Janice called. I realized I had to go home. Sipped on my Coca-Cola the way back until I reached the house. I put the key in the lock and took off my binder and changed my shirt. 

There are some things that just have to be. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be in that park with the sunshine coming down on me. But it’s winter. It sucks in every possible way right now at this moment. But boy, did I feel alive tonight. I did absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. I traveled through milliseconds and minutes to hours and I rode the wave of the universe. I think I would explode, like a billion-year-old star, so I will get in my bed at the same time as last night and sleep.



17 years old

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