by DiDi Hendley
© April 4, 2014
Just as his small fingers reached his prize in the bowl, he glanced around the room. He was still alone. He snatched the mushy blue-grey ball swiftly and turned to find a hiding place to devour it...his prize...alone. He smiled at the thought of not having to share it with anybody else. As he stepped off the box that lifted him to the prize, the flaps broke. He fell into the broken box, and his prize landed several feet away.
His mother ran into the room. She frowned at the broken ball and the beige ooze splattered across the floor. Her face wore her disappointment for the tiny lad, crumpled within the broken cardboard.
His eyes reflected a mix of apology and disappointment.
"I told you to leave it alone," she said, crossing the floor to her toddler.
"I guess we found it too late. It's already turned, so it would've tasted bad," she sat cross-legged beside him and leaned against the cabinet door.
She held his hand as he climbed out of the box and snuggled in her lap. She could hear the grumbling complaints of his stomach, and hugged him tightly. She gathered and flattened the broken box with her right hand as she hugged him and stroked his arm with her left. A pecan escaped the folds of the box and rolled toward her, as if a gift from God. In disbelief, they looked at each other, then the nut. She snatched it in her hand, and he wriggled in her lap to get a better look. With a swift clinch, the nut cracked in her palm. She brought her hand to her nose and smelled, then smiled. She waved it across his nose, and the scent of the meat inside wafted across his face. He smiled.
She held the broken nut in her palm, picked out the broken shell, and piled them beside her on the floor. She picked out the largest piece and placed it in his dirty hand.
He devoured it with urgency.
She smiled as she picked another large piece from the opposing side, leaving crumbs and bitter behind. She held it up; and when he tried to grab it, she pulled it away.
"Slow down this time. There aren't any more."
He nodded, and gently took the nut from her fingers. Her stomach barked in protest. He looked at it, guilt on his face. His eyes teared as he looked into hers.
She shook her head and pushed the nut to his lips.
He looked at it with regret and took a nibble. He held the rest to her mouth.
She smiled, eyes brimming with tears. "Yours." She pushed it toward his hungry mouth as he savored his first bite. He reluctantly obliged, and lay his head on her chest as he slowly chewed.
She picked the last crumbs of the meat from the nut with her fingertip and placed them on her tongue. She nibbled at them with her front teeth and sighed.
She cuddled him, "Yes, son?"
"Why do they call it orange?"
They both glanced at the blue-gray ball with beige ooze splattered on the floor.
"Son, when your grandma was a girl, they were orange. Then scientist believed they could genetically alter them. The government said it was okay. So now…"