On Tuesday Margaret told me she liked the little oranges without seeds better than the ones I bought. I really hated her for that. She could be so ungrateful. She hadn’t been herself since the time she found me embracing that friend of hers, Joanne. That was all a misunderstanding. She didn’t see it that way at the time, though. We didn’t speak for days on end.
On Thursday I went out shopping again. We needed some fruit. This time I chose apples, bananas, nectarines and lettuce from the greengrocer. As I was about to pay I noticed a tray of those little oranges that Margaret said she liked and bought a dozen of them, which I took home in a paper bag. At home, feeling pleased with myself, I put them down on the table in front of her.
‘I managed to find some of those little oranges you like.’
She picked one up, gingerly.
‘They’re too small,’ she said disdainfully, ‘You can have them.’
After all the effort I had made. I could have hit her, honestly I could.
On Saturday I decided enough was enough: we needed more fruit and vegetables and would go out shopping together. We went to a different greengrocer this time. Happily, they had nectarines in stock; we bought some, along with apples, broccoli and carrots. Margaret spotted some oranges in a small wooden box. They looked remarkably similar to the ones I had bought elsewhere on Tuesday. She gave them a nod of approval and bought half a dozen. I could have killed her.
On Sunday I realised there were still some the little oranges that hadn’t been touched. I peeled one and ate it. There weren’t any seeds, which was a good thing. What wasn’t such a good thing was the peculiar, metallic kind of taste. Must be the variety, I thought. It might explain why she turned her nose up at them. After a few minutes I started to feel faint. My head was spinning. I had to go and lie down before I fell down.
After what seemed like minutes, but could have been hours, I could hear Margaret speaking on the phone. Something about her husband having a bad case of food poisoning – and could they send someone quickly? Before I lost consciousness, I could have sworn I heard her utter a little cry of satisfaction as she replaced the receiver.
Ian Coldicott lives in Lichfield, England, and enjoys writing short stories and reading crime fiction. He is keen on photography, studying philosophy, researching family history and transcribing old wills. Before retiring he worked for a local authority as a Demographic Analyst.
Photo by Jen Gunter on Unsplash