Oranges meant vitamin C, and vitamin C meant a swifter recovery.
Dana looked at the heavy bags of fruit on the store shelf, and sighed to herself. She could hear her mother repeating the statement perfectly, though she hadn’t heard anything else perfectly in three days thanks to the marshmallow-stuffed feeling her head cold was giving her. It was not poor advice, so Dana picked up a bag of oranges and cradled it against her chest, but she took a few steps and wished that she hadn’t. She didn’t like oranges.
She didn’t put them back. Grabbing a big box of tissues, a jar of juice, and a bottle of decongestants, she checked out as quickly as she could and escaped back to her car. There, she sat still and blew her nose three times. It didn’t make her feel much better, but she could breathe properly for about half a minute. When she remembered how much more comfortable the couch at home was, she put the car in drive and forced herself to hit the road.
The stairs up to her apartment were too tall, but she had walked up and down them so many times, she reached the top step on autopilot before she remembered to mentally complain. She fumbled with her keys around her bag of groceries, but made it inside. She kicked off her shoes, stumbled away from the front door, and sat down heavily on the couch. She didn’t bother to take off her coat, and dropped her bag right at her feet.
Then Dana sat there, happy not to move.
It was a quarter-hour before she concluded she should be doing something to make herself feel better. But she looked at the oranges and almost took back her decision.
She didn’t like oranges.
Picking one up from the bag, she accidentally knocked the bottle of decongestants out onto the floor and it rattled and rolled its way across the floor. She looked at it sadly, then looked at the orange.
She had eaten too many of them when she was sick as a kid. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with them – the stupid, sweet, juicy things – she had just always had them when she was already feeling rotten. It was funny how memories could stack up onto something so simple as a brightly colored edible fruit ball, but stack the memories did. And she didn’t much like remembering the Head Cold’s Greatest Hit’s when she was already in the middle of its comeback efforts.
So, she threw the orange on the floor too. She felt silly about it, but also a little better, watching the fruit roll away from her and toward the bottle of medicine. She might have even chucked it against the wall, except she wasn’t sure how easy it was to clean splattered oranges out of the carpet.
She picked up the next orange from her bag and examined the lay out of the floor. The orange had stopped about two feet from the medicine. She wondered if she could roll one closer. She felt silly about that thought too, but only for a moment.
Leaning over, she put the orange on the floor and pushed it, hard. It rolled closer, but still didn’t come close to the bottle. The next one rolled past the wall and knocked dully against the far wall. Apparently pushing it as hard as she could was not the answer. The fourth orange went way off course, as if it had a mind of its own, and she shook her head, silently asking it why it had done that.
The fifth fell short again.
The sixth knocked into the bottle and pushed it even farther away from the others, but stayed nestled up against it.
Dana raised her arms triumphantly. She sat still for a minute or two. Then she gathered them all back up and started again.
Sadie came home at half past four. Coming far enough into the room to find her roommate on the couch, she shrugged out of her coat. Then she eyed the oranges on the floor curiously.
“So…” Sadie said. “How are we doing?”
Dana shrugged. It was easier than saying “fine” and being betrayed by the fact that her stuffed up nose would make it sound like, “bine.”
“And what are we doing?” Sadie asked.
Dana titled her head to look at the floor, examining her next shot. “I think I’m learning how sports are invented.”