My mother’s eyes hemmed me in as I struggled to float with others on life’s path. She kept whispering, ‘Not yet’, and ‘Stay put.’
Sweet smells danced with bees amongst the orange blossom. I willed these bees to free me from my binds.
Time passed and I remained. Too much time.
Oranges started to grow quite round and leaves on other trees changed colour before spinning to the ground.
I suffered, beaten by wind and rain, left exposed to the sun’s strong rays and the stars’ cold glare.
I was forgotten. Then came my chance. Secateurs marched by and I edged a little closer to the biggest fattest orange. Once more I felt my mother’s eyes admonish, but I was older now and more determined.
Snip. I was fledged. Such fleeting fun. I wanted to go again and perched atop an orange in a big, wooden bowl.
I was deceived. Half an hour later I was thrown with orange pulp and pips into a plastic carrier bag surrounded by moist tea bags, grease and bits of bone.
I had to escape. But how?
The moment arrived. I felt myself lifted up with all the other prisoners. Carried down the same road at which I had looked so longingly in the past. How ironic, I thought, that even now I cannot see what lies beyond the curve. Suddenly, I was weightless, flying high, but not free, bumping against other captives. We landed with a thud. How I longed for that sweet scent of orange blossom as I lay battered and bruised. I cried, thinking of my mother’s protective arm as she sheltered me from harm.
A truck arrived. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another bag, a bigger one, full of those like me.
I begged them to take me along. An old sergeant scratched his grey whiskers then held out his hand.
There was a different smell. Like earth after rain. Sarge began rallying the troops, those close enough to listen,
‘Not long now, soldiers … soon, they’ll try and get us into a big dumpster. But we haven’t come this far to give up without a fight. Hover near the edges and jump the other way.’
So we did.
The sergeant told us,
‘You are the lucky few, the brave who give legends their name . . . the noise of the leaf blowers will make you think you’re done for. You’re not. You’ll have the time of your lives, blown so your feet cannot touch the ground – hither, thither and back again. A glorious end my heroic friends.’
He reached into his canvas knapsack and handed out ear plugs. ‘30 minutes tops before the leaf blower runs out of puff. Enjoy yourselves my bucking broncos. OK protect your ears.’
Now I am compost and part of the nitrogen cycle once more. I’ve been sprinkled around my orange tree and seeing a new leaf unfurl, I tell this tale.
I end with, ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat.’