Kellie loved watermelon, as displayed over the course of her 17 years of life, in the form of birthday cakes, Chapstick flavors, and patterned blankets. It went right down to the miniature watermelon charm on her keychain.
She hadn’t told anyone yet, but she was planning to get a tattoo of one on her wrist. Kellie wasn’t quite sure why she liked the fruit so much. Something about it just made her happy.
The funniest, most laughable thing about her obsession? She couldn’t stand the taste of it. She liked watermelon flavored foods, but the actual thing? Not a chance.
Everyone she knew just assumed that she liked eating it too and the worst part was that because of her intense love for her entire family she felt she’d be betraying them if she told them the truth. So, she endured, every summer she forced herself to choke down bites, waiting until no was looking to spit them out, slipping entire slices to the nearest dog.
Saving up all the pieces that her family would randomly bring her at any given time of the day in big clear Ziplock bags. Taking a trip about once a week to the poorer side of town to give them to kids and other teens. Teens she had sworn to secrecy years ago. They all thought it was the funniest thing in the world, teasing her mercilessly about it.
As far as her family knew she spent the weekends with friends, so no suspicions there. Not that it was a total lie, she really was good friends with most of the kids in that part of town.
But she was starting to get annoyed. She could no longer count how many times she’d lied about her favorite food, which, since she didn’t like eating Watermelon wasn’t a contender. Only her friend from summer camp knew what it actually was (Hot wings.)
She even forced herself to a get a job, for the soul reason of being able to pay for stamps, which she used anytime someone bought her an entire watermelon. She mailed them right from the post office to a food charity that was only a few miles away. Unlike the slices she couldn’t just hide a whole watermelon under her bed, so at this point she was prepared, and carried proper postage with her at all times.
The whole mailing and giving the fruit to others thing? Kellie hated
wasting food; she would rather choke down the disgusting water flavored Styrofoam then throw it away.
All of this had brought her here, to this situation, standing outside the post office at ten in the morning, wearing pajama pants and a Halloween cloak, clutching the aforementioned striped fruit, that was bigger than a bowling ball and twice as heavy. Staring awkwardly at the boy that she had just knocked over as she tried to avoid the weird waddle shuffle she gained from trying to carry the green and red water coconut.
“Well, this is awkward.”
The boy stared up at her, he was probably around her age, maybe seventeen or eighteen years old. He was still flat on his back in the middle of the sidewalk. Thankfully it was Sunday morning, which meant that everybody was at church, and more importantly not
here to see this.
Unfortunately, Kellie recognized him. She was friends with his sister, Amber, and had seen him around a few times when she went over to Amber’s house.
She was tempted to lie, sorely, but she really didn’t feel like coming up with an elaborate tale for why she wasn’t Kellie.
Jasper (that was his name) sat up rubbing his head where it had slammed into the pavement.
“Why are you mailing a watermelon at 10 AM?” He frowned after a moment, his nose wrinkling, “Wait, I thought you were that girl that loves watermelon?”
“Well, you know how it is, I just get so many that I don’t know what to do with them, so I send a few out to friends and extended family that don’t live too far.” Kellie felt a bead of sweat drip down her shirt. She was lying by the skin of her teeth and she was pretty sure he knew it, but she didn’t feel like trying to explain her lifelong struggle with her favorite fruit.
“Yeah, that sounded like a lie, even to me, and I believed in the tooth fairy until I was fourteen, the only reason I stopped was because my mom told me, so yeah.” His ears turned bright red and he looked as uncomfortable as Kellie felt.
He covered his face, like he could not believe what he had just said. They both stood there for an awkward moment. Her still holding her unwanted gift, and him trying to pretend he didn’t exist. She might have kept on standing there, trapped forever in an unending loop of discomfort.
The sounds of the church bells reached her, lighting a fire of panic in her stomach. The bells meant that service was over and people were going to start heading home soon and she was going to be caught red handed trying to get rid of something she was supposed to adore.
She ducked into the office, crouched behind the counter, and thumped the stupid cargo under the counter, postage and all.
There, crisis avoided.
Coming back out she found Jasper sitting on a bench across the road. Well, she figured it was a nice day, and most people in the town were used to her wearing pjs out and about.
So, she joined him, sitting cross legged under a big maple tree. It was cold for a June day, the metal bench was cool and Kellie shivered, pulling her cloak around herself in an effort to keep warm.
Jasper had his head tilted back, as far as she could tell he was just staring at the tree overhead.
“So, why were you mailing that watermelon?”
She didn’t answer for a long moment, debating whether it would be better to just leave and pretend she’d never seen him, but she’d been keeping this secret for so long maybe she should start telling people the truth.
She leaned back, pulling her feet up onto the bench and clasped her hands around her knees before she spoke.
“I really do love watermelon, I have no idea why, but they’ve always just made me happy, the design and colors, the aesthetic, but I hate the taste.”
Jasper tilted his head curiously, “Why?”
“It tastes like plastic Styrofoam flavored water, the seeds get stuck in your teeth, and when you try to hold the rind the melon practically sinks under your nails.” She shuddered, “I hate getting stuff under my nails.”
Jasper covered his mouth with a hand and turned away, his shoulders shaking with laughter. Kellie scowled; this was exactly why she didn’t tell people.
“You don’t have to be so rude, you’re the one who asked.”
“Sorry, it’s just,” Jasper had to take several deep breaths before he could talk again, “you love everything about watermelon, but you hate eating it?!” He was laughing again, rather loudly too.
The bench was shaking slightly and Kellie was about to leave when a thought occurred to her.
“Hold on, Amber told me that you would rather die than eat watermelon, shouldn’t you be hating the taste with me?” She raised an eyebrow at him in question. That at least shut him up.
“Shoot, I guess since you told me I should probably tell you.”
“Probably,” she said crossing her arms.
“Oh man, it’s just, the irony of all of this,” he vaguely gestured at the two of them and then towards the post office. “Is hilarious.”
She frowned at him, “What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s kind of a long story?”
“I have nothing else to do today.”
Jasper slipped off the bench onto the grass, resting his head against the bench before continuing.
“Ok, so when I was like, I wanna say five or six, all the girls in school had this really popular watermelon Chapstick.”
Must have just been a thing, Kellie remembered the Chapstick, or rather pleading with her mom to get it for her.
“All of us boys at some point just collectively decided that watermelon was a girly fruit, which is the dumbest thing to say now but,” he shrugged “again we were in preschool. After that my mom couldn’t pay me to eat or even get near it, in case I got ‘infected’.”
He chuckled, smiling softly at something she couldn’t see. “That all changed when my family went strawberry picking one summer, somehow I got separated and ended up near the watermelon patches. There was a girl the same age as me wandering by herself and I remember her looking at me, a complete stranger and asking ‘Do you know what these are?’ Me of course being a smart aleck little kid responded with, ‘They’re watermelons stupid.’ She didn’t even care that I had just called her stupid, she just looked amazed and started running around shouting ‘Watermelon! Watermelon!’ Six-year-old me being a genius said, ‘WATERMELONS ARE STUPID!’ and that little girl came at me faster than a train. The last thing I remember was her yelling, ‘NO THEY’RE NOT!’ Picking up a watermelon, if you can imagine a tiny little six-year-old girl lifting a whole watermelon, and she chucked the thing at my head, when it hit me part of hit broke and I got a taste of it, which to my great dismay I actually liked.”
He grinned, “That’s also the story of how I woke up in the hospital with seven stitches and a concussion, the best part? That girl just left me there! My parents found me unconscious and bleeding in the watermelon patch, somewhere out there is a girl who was a hit and run professional by the age of six.”
He paused before seeming to realize that he hadn’t really answered Kellie’s question.
“Oh, and of course I couldn’t just tell everyone that I suddenly liked the fruit, so everyone thinks I hate it, and I have to sneak pieces when we go to cookouts and parties.”
Kellie didn’t respond, she felt something pop dully in the back of her memories, for some reason Jasper’s story had sounded familiar. The thing that had popped free flashed suddenly, bringing memories of when she was little and she had gone with a friend to pick blueberries and gotten lost, and had thrown a watermel- oh no.
Kellie paled as she met Jasper’s eyes, practically shrieking when she said, “THAT WAS YOU?!”
“YOU WERE THAT GIRL?!” He yelled right back after a moment of realization. “YOU LEFT ME UNCONSCIOUS!”
“I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!”
“YOU THREW A WATERMELON, AT MY HEAD!”
Jasper stopped shouting and stared at her “What do you mean you thought I was dead?”
“What do you think I mean? You were on the ground not moving and there was blood! Of course, I thought you were dead! By the time I went back with my friend you were gone! We both thought you’d become a ghost that would haunt the fruit farm forever! Neither of us have gone back since!”
“You thought I had become a ghost? But then why would my body be gone?”
Kellie threw her hands up, “I don’t know, six-year-old-logic is weird!”
“And why did you bring your friend back instead of an adult? I mean, you thought I was dead?”
She looked away, her face turning bright red, “ineededherhelptogetridofthebody,” she muttered incoherently.
“I thought I would need help to rid of the body okay!”
Jasper’s jaw dropped. “You were just going to hide my body, and not tell AnYoNe?!!”
asper scooched a few feet away from her, “I feel like I should be calling the cops right now.”
She held up a finger, “Ah yes, but the important thing is that I didn’t.”
“Only because I was already gone.”
“Not the point.”
“It kind of is.”
They both sat in silence for a little while, Kellie’s mind was reeling after all of the late morning confessions. Something small and white landed on her hand, melting into a tiny water droplet instantly. Looking up Kellie realized that it had started snowing, but they had been too busy arguing to realize.
They watched it together for a moment, staring at the floating crystals slowly drift through the sky, coating everything in a gentle white, bringing out a version of the town that could usually only be seen at Christmas time.
“Aren’t you cold?” The sudden question caught her off guard, and made her realize she was shivering, her arms covered in goosebumps. She was only wearing a thin t-shirt and her Halloween cloak.
Jasper stood, then offered his hand, helping her up before handing her his jacket. For a second she was worried that he would be cold, before noticing that he was still wearing a jacket. What kind of person wears two jackets on top of each other?
She was about to say as much when she realized he was talking.
“So, you hate eating them, and I don’t, I thinks there’s a pretty easy solution in this for both of us.”
“And what would that be?” She zipped the jacket up to her chin before stuffing her hands in the pockets, the sleeves were a little too long, but otherwise it fit her perfectly.
“You just give any watermelon you get to me, well may not any, Amber told me that you get a lot, but maybe some? We could meet here on Sundays.”
Kellie considered it while watching flakes of snow land on her shoes. She did get a lot of watermelon, and sometimes the kids she gave it to would complain that they were turning into the watermelons, they ate so much.
She looked up smiling, “Deal.”
“Great,” Jasper grinned, “and I would appreciate it if you could try to avoid throwing any more at my head, that would be awesome.”
Kellie sighed, “You throw a watermelon at a person one time and they don’t trust you.”
Jasper looked at her incredulously, then they both burst out laughing. Their breaths lingering in the cold air, swirling with the snow for a moment before blending with white flurry all around before joining the wind that was pushing slightly against their backs, carrying the impossible smell of summer and watermelons.