The Nutshell

The Nutshell is a creative collective under the government of Holly-Rose and Hannah-Rose with ODD and SPONTANEOUS tamperings by Logie-Bear; made up of writers, musicians, and artists. Here teacups are rife and insanity is always technicoloured.
 
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 The Day of the Orange

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Meganical
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PostSubject: The Day of the Orange   Sun 25 May 2008 - 1:24

Hooray for Mediocre Creative Writing!
This is fairly childish.

~

For every year I have been at school, there has been a class photo. Every year a picture framed by an elegant blue border is handed out, a picture with thirty thumbnail-sized faces with expressions ranging from genuinely cheerful smiles to forced grimaces. As I leaf through the crisp laminated cards from past school years, I smile too: at faces I remember, and faces I do not remember but are downright comic nonetheless. I notice one particular photo in the pile. It is the only photo in which my face is not amongst the other chubby freckled ones. There is no indication of me being in that class that year, except for my name at the bottom of the monotonous list of names with one word beside it. Absent.

I bite back a laugh, for I know I was not absent on that day.

That day was the day of the Orange. It was on one of the earlier days, when the wall at the front of the classrooms had a blackboard instead of the slick white one smelling of markers. A large coloured chart would be carefully blu-tacked to the corner of this board, with pictures of smiling fruit, and small diagrams dissecting each letter of the alphabet. And I remember that O always stood for Orange.

It was on one of the earlier days when, every time the school bell shrilled to signal playtime, we would run joyfully to our bags. We would grab our plastic boxes and open them to see what delicious treat our dear mothers had packed for us that morning.

I was eight. And on that particular morning of the day of the photo, I ran joyfully to my bag and pulled out my purple box to find – a fruit.

It was a very attractive fruit. Dimpled with a small green eye, its almost perfect roundness had been sliced neatly. Four fat quarters joined almost seamlessly together to form a large sphere that filled my lunchbox with all its fragrance and citric bounty.

It was my orange. I savoured the joy of placing each fat slice into my mouth and ripping and the flesh right out rind and sucking on the pulp, far sweeter than the juice sold in the small cardboard cartons of the squeezed nature.

But just as I was about to advance onto the last quarter of the orange, the siren alarmed again. With a stroke of panic, I glanced at the entrance of the classroom. My classmates were skipping in. I looked at the last quarter of the orange. It sat on its curved side peacefully. Waiting.

My classmates had gone into the classroom. There was nothing else I could do.

I stretched my mouth as wide as it would allow and crammed the last slice in as well as I could. It was quite a challenge. My mouth was roughly only half its size. But I was determined to finish this orange.

I quickly shoved my purple box back into my bag and joined my fellow eight year olds who were clustered on the mat, listening to the teacher Mrs. Murcia. I could only dimly make out her voice over the squelches that were pulsing in my ears from the orange. The juices swirled, watery, in my mouth. I was also only dimly aware of everyone standing up again – moving as a fidgeting body of chattering pupils, and forming a crocodile of children at the door.

I clumsily rose to my feet and hurriedly attached myself to the tail, one hand over my mouth, as the class began to make a distinctive route to… the hall.

Class photo.

The realization hit me like a cruel thump on the back of a person who has their mouth full. I tried to push the reluctant slice deeper into my mouth, but the thick peel was trapped between my teeth and my lips.

I tried not to think about how the photo was going to look as I clambered onto the towering stand behind a row of my school friends. I stood and looked at the hall from my new vantage point; from the photographer arranging the letters on the sign, to the camera. And I wished and wished that the great gaping black eye of the camera staring at the obvious bulge on my mouth would blink and look away.

But the photographer finished arranging the white little letters on the sign. He ambled behind the ominous staring box and grinned at us all so that we would follow suit. Then he pulled a silly face, and told us to watch the dicky-bird.

And in that instant, as it is fixed into the psyche of an eight-year old child upon hearing a silly phrase, I forgot my troubles, and giggled. My face rearranged itself and my mouth stretched open to reveal the orange rind that had created a mouth-guard over my teeth. The last thing I saw before the furious glare of the camera that threw stars into my eyes was the horrified expression of the photographer.

I will always remember the moment he made the solemn signal to Mrs. Murcia, and how she dragged me to one side so that the rest of the class, the normal children, could have a normal, orange-free photo.

Afterwards I received a talking to. And I was not allowed to join in when the class played games that afternoon.

I cried on that day, and I cried even more when my mother questioned my absence in the photo when the copies were printed and handed out. But I recall looking back months later, and seeing the funny side that emerges from events over time. And it is a curious thing that, even though I was the only one not in the photo, I was the only one who would remember what happened that day. I remember my orange, and the simple joys that surface less and less with the passing of childhood. By just remembering that day, and being able to smile – even to have to bite back a laugh – I know that it is the experience that counts, and not what is edited and printed on paper. And I know that when life gives me oranges, I will remember to smile.
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TimTam
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PostSubject: Re: The Day of the Orange   Sun 25 May 2008 - 2:23

Aw that is so cute! Was that your level two creative writing by any chance? It has the whole trigger for a memory thing going on.

I like the descriptiveness at the start, but I think you lose it a bit towards the middle so you could work on that.
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Meganical
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PostSubject: Re: The Day of the Orange   Sun 25 May 2008 - 7:28

TimTam wrote:
Aw that is so cute! Was that your level two creative writing by any chance? It has the whole trigger for a memory thing going on.

I like the descriptiveness at the start, but I think you lose it a bit towards the middle so you could work on that.

Right in one! <3

And thank you! I'll jab at the middle with a fork when I get round to it. Mwehee!
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PostSubject: Re: The Day of the Orange   Tue 23 Sep 2008 - 9:02

It's heavy with sentiment, nostalgia and retrospection.

I like the attention to detail - especially in the description of the Orange itself: "Dimpled with a small green eye, its almost perfect roundness had been sliced neatly. Four fat quarters joined almost seamlessly together to form a large sphere that filled my lunchbox with all its fragrance and citric bounty. " Possibly my favourite paragraph. Rich in imagery, evokes the senses, it is precise and crisp.

Perhaps, the distinctive first person point of view gives the work a sense of child-like vulnerability as well as adoration that further punctuates the enlivened experience of the school photo shoot. As does the simple syntax and the child-like statements "I remember... I know that..."

I enjoy the innocent wonder of the protagonist and the acute observations made. I dislike the moral ending but it probably adds to the sentiment. I actually dislike sentiment in general, but that's just my poo of an opinion. It's youthful, it reverberates the readers' own childhood memories. It sounds like an extract from a memoir. I wonder if that's the intention.
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