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The Blue Orange

A fable of sorts for the little ones.


"Look sweetheart."

"What Mummy?"

"A blue orange. How weird is that?"

I pick it up from amongst all the normal oranges on display. I'm sure it's an orange. It's the usual shape and size of an orange. It feels and smells like an orange, only it's scent is a lot, lot sweeter. I think it must be the most delicious orange in the world. But it's blue.

"Wow. A blue orange," I keep repeating, holding it up high.

"Sssh Mummy, people are looking at you."

"I'm not surprised, I've found a blue orange."

"Please stop, Mummy."

My own little daughter is looking at me as if I'm scaring her. Everybody else in the supermarket is looking at me strangely as well. What's wrong with them? Why don't they react to seeing a blue orange?

I want someone to say something, but they don't. I hold it under the nose of a girl who works in the shop. She looks at me as if I'm about to attack her and runs off, so I spin around in search of another person to witness the blue orange. Nobody will, every single person I approach backs away from me.

"Code one. Fruit and Vegetables," the supermarket's loudspeaker announces.

A smartly dressed man soon appears, he must be the manager and he has two security guards accompanying him. Oh good, someone sensible, doubtless he will acknowledge the blue orange, that's all I want him to do.

"Is there a problem, Madam?"

"Look, I've found a blue orange," I tell him.

He doesn't react, so I say the same thing to the two men with him. Their expressions frighten me and my little girl is pulling at my skirt, trying to get me out of the shop.

"Shall we taste it? I'll pay for it," I tell them.

"Take the orange with our compliments Madam. But please leave quietly."

"What are you talking about? I don't understand."

"Either take the orange, or..."

"Please Mummy, let's go."

"But it's a blue orange, can't you see it?"

"David, Michael. Please escort the lady to the exit," orders the man in the suit.

"But..."

"Don't hurt my Mummy."

I'm frog marched out of the shop, I'm still holding the blue orange, trying to wave it at anyone who cares to look. All I get is a sea of onlookers shaking their heads. This is madness and I'm starting to cry with frustration.

I'm dumped on the pavement outside the shop. I'm on my knees and my nylon stockings have been ruined, my tearful face must look a mess but I'm still holding the blue orange aloft. My little daughter hugs me, I may have gone mad but she still loves me and cares for me.

"Please tell me it's blue," I say to her.

"Oh Mummy," she says. "Come and see."

She's only tiny, but she remembers her way around this part of town. She leads me down the path to the open market where every other stall in there sells fruit and veg. I don't believe what I see, there's not many, but there's a few more blue oranges scattered here and there.

"They are blue aren't they?"

"Yes, Mummy."

I almost faint with relief. I ask her to point out the blue ones to confirm it's all true, which she does quite easily. I'm so confused, what does it mean and why is it only us that can see them?

"Some other children can see them," she tells me.

"Then why don't you all say so?"

"We're too scared to Mummy."

"Oh sweetheart, you must never be afraid to speak the truth."

She's so young, far too young to explain all this properly. She only knows what she sees and the things she's been told. All her short life she's been told oranges are orange and never, ever are they blue.

And how come I can see the blue ones now? I don't know that either, I can only guess that somehow something has opened my eyes and my mind. Perhaps I've always seen the blue ones and just blocked them out.

"Shall we buy some blue oranges for Daddy?" she suggests.

"Good idea. I wonder if he will see that they're blue?"

"I hope so," she replies.

"So do I."

I really do hope my husband will see the oranges are blue. Life will never be the same again for us if he doesn't. Perhaps the little children are right. Perhaps it's better not to tell and we should pretend we're all blind to the blue oranges, that they don't really exist.

Blue oranges are dangerous I've decided. I'm not going to buy them and I don't want to see them anymore. I throw my blue orange in the trash, and I have to drag my little girl away. She's crying and screaming all at once.

"Please Mummy, please. I want a blue orange for Daddy."

"Stop it," I scream at her. "There are no blue oranges."

"Please Mummy, please," and I've never heard her squalling so much.

"Shame on you," an old lady says to me. She's working one of the fruit stalls and she steps out with an orange in her hand, which she gives to my little girl.

"What color is it child?" The old lady asks my daughter.

"It's blue," she replies, and I feel so ashamed of my cowardice.

"Blue oranges. Get your blue oranges," the old lady cries out to the crowd in the market.

A few people gather around, strangers that all share this remarkable knowledge.

And do you know what?

All of the old lady's oranges are blue, and no living soul can deny it.

steffanie xxx

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