a man in a suit is preaching in the streets. he tells us, people who want a revolution do not wait for one voice, people who have something of importance to share express themselves everywhere, no man is more important to another. at his feet i see asphalt but i imagine it covered in chalk drawings. i imagine each individual painting their hopes and frustrations.
i go to a concert of a banned performer. he is exceptionally good looking in a way that makes him revolting. he sings a bollywood tune of change for the better and creates neon paintings on a clear screen between him and the audience. he inspires people, but only to make them look up to him, to copy him. it’s not the same. but it’s a good concert and i enjoy myself.
walking through a cemetery, aethy and i try to pick the perfect marigold. we compare our choices and fall behind the tour group. she tells me that the flower she has picked is on my skirt. exactly the same one! i lift my shirt and she is right. i am wearing all orange and yellow. the top of my skirt has prints of marigolds and one of them is exactly as the one in her hand. “even the flesh wounds” she says. and explains that before flowers grow to bloom, you have to take off the label. but you have to take it off when it’s still dry. if you take it off the pod when it is wet, it will leave a scar that will show through it’s whole life. despite the brown scars on the flower, it is the most beautiful i have ever seen and i want to cradle it in my hands. aethy is worried that we have lost the group. i tell her we’ll just go around this way and meet them at the entrance. she’s not sure that will work and i tell her that all cemetery roads lead to the same place. she agrees that is the case and we walk on a shady path beneath heavy pine branches and look at broken, forgotten stones where no one visits any longer.
the next day we return, but the marigolds are replaced with oranges. aethy tells me that i’m lazy, i haven’t even changed clothes. but i have. i’m just wearing different layers or orange and yellow. i shrug and don’t correct her. we pick oranges and jump onto a slab of concrete that is painted with oranges of varying degrees of ripeness and color. they are labeled with numbers. aethy tends to pick oranges at level 8 no matter how hard she tries to get a lower number. i believe i have found the perfect orange. i jump down onto the 3 and am pleased that i am correct. i boast and begin to peel. aethy doesn’t seem to have noticed my victory. i lay on the ground facing the sun high above and close my eyes. i reach back, blind, and pull off slices, savoring their tartness. this is the type of orange you want in juice, i think. this is perfect. i tell aethy again. she tells me it’s not ripe enough. there are seeds. i hold the last few slices and can see three large seeds haloed inside their skin, a perfect stained glass composition. i bite in anyway, determined to prove that my orange is still good. the three seeds turn out to be 18.
in all, i bleed out 48 seeds back at the house. the woman, she is a friend’s mother i think, does not believe me, but i show her the pile still sitting on newspaper on the top of the trash in the bin. she says she’s never known someone to have so many, she herself only expelled 12 when it was her time. but it’s official now, she’ll give me some tips on what lies ahead.
before we move to the sunroom, i grab three slimy pits from the newspaper. “i want to plant them” i tell her. she laughs kindly. “i did the same thing” she says. i do not ask her if they grew.