My existence in the universe amounts to almost nothing. I’m a flea on a speck, rocketing around a hydrogen and helium blip in ever expanding nothingness. The speck we call Earth will eventually be overtaken by the Sun as it too expands in a ball of flame taking everything we hold dear with it, just as the universe will eventually cool down as it expands and dies. I too will die, my exact fate somehow more uncertain than that of the universe. It’s none of those impending deaths I’m thinking of now. No, all that’s on my mind is the fate of the yellow nectarine sitting inches from me.
Five days ago I selected a group of yellow nectarines to consume in what I hoped would be a delicious encounter. Initially, I almost walked completely by them, but their smooth, beautiful skin produced a glimmer of light catching my eye. I see hundreds of thousands if not millions of objects a day, so even a fleeting glance does not guarantee a product any mental devotion. The muted yellow skin swimming with drops of red conjures close-up vivid, almost unreal, third person memories of biting into the fruits as their juices poured into and down the sides of my mouth. I swallowed a little harder than normal, my salivating mouth getting a heads up from my eyes.
Nectarines are a late summer fruit my brain tries to tell me, there’s no way you will get a delicious one at this time of year. It didn’t matter what my mind was saying, my stomach had already made the decision. I walked out with five nectarines that fateful evening, finding out the very next day that my stomach made the correct decision. I now have two of these fruits left, one at work staring me down, and one at home, waiting to be consumed as a late night snack.
My office surprised me today with a complimentary lunch. As the old adage goes though, “there’s no such thing as a free meal.” This lunch came with the unforeseen price of mentally burdening me with what to do with this perfectly ripe nectarine. I could take it home, but I already have one waiting. I could chance it and leave it for tomorrow, but even in the past few hours it feels softer to the touch than it did before. Another day could lead to an overly soft, mushy disaster. I could eat it now, but I’m already so full from lunch. Eating the vitamin A and D fist sized ball of Utopian nectar just to dispose of it is an insult to both nectarines and my passion for them.
Work is calling my name, but what to do with this nectarine is calling louder. My eyes are skimming emails, and my fingers spouting meaningless buzz words to the masses, but my mind is an orchard colored hurricane of swirling ripe and rotten nectarines. Blowing away any other thoughts, the decision hurricane consumes all my mental capacity. I look to the left, seeing the stoic, unmoving fruit. The best thing to do is to simply put it out of my sight for the time being, I incorrectly assume. As I pick it up, the nectarine skin seems to give in a little more than it did only minutes ago.
Oh god, it’s almost as if I can hear the fruit flies outside the window, buzzing and circling like the annoying fruit vultures they are. I can’t let that happen. I wont let that happen. I breath in heavily and exhale a frustrated sigh. I shouldn’t have done that. The combination of picking the nectarine up and breathing deeply sends an orgy of combined chemicals into my nose. The exquisite debauchery of scents collides with my odor receptors as they transmit the information to my limbic system. My memory and emotions can’t get enough, but my pituitary gland and hypothalamus wont budge; it’s almost as if they are getting off on withholding hormones and keeping my appetite at bay. A cruel act.
Should I take it home and have two nectarines tonight? I shouldn’t. The memory of last years overeating and subsequent dismissal of cherries is still all too fresh in my mind. One at a time Alex, one at a time. I look at the clock and realize it’s somehow already time to leave work. Like after a long drive I suddenly snap to, realizing I don’t remember how I got from point A to point B, the hours all but lost to the ethers of time.
I close my computer down slowly before standing up and grabbing my bag. A decision must be made. The nectarine… will… remain. I walk out the door of my office refusing the temptation of looking back. I know the only thing waiting for me on my desk is the ever increasing gravitational force of doubt, crushing down and flattening any certainty I might have once had about my decision. I drive into the night away from the past and into the future. What tomorrow holds for the fate of me and the nectarine is unknown, but like every other day of my life, the only thing I can do is hope that it will be alright.
[UPDATE] The nectarine stayed ripe, I ate it, and it was delicious.