While walking home, out of the blue, he saw it.
A single, solitary, ripe, Julie mango.
The boy stopped in his tracks, eyes fixated on the jewel of a fruit. Quite what it was still doing on the tree, he didn’t know. Mango season had passed weeks ago, to his utter despair. No more vendors hawking their wares at the roadside.
“Three for five, three Julie mango for five dollar!”
The times his mother had berated him for getting his clothes stained and sticky, he could no longer count. However, she was overjoyed when she began to notice fewer and fewer mangos on the trees.
But here it was. It called him, beckoned him, twinkling like a solitary star on a cloudy night. His stomach grumbled. He looked around, wondering if anyone was home. Maybe he should just walk up to the door and ask? But the house looked deserted: its eyes closed with the heavy shutters, yard looking unkempt and unloved.
Either way, even if there was someone there, what was the chance that they would pass up on the last Julie mango?
He made his decision.
Looking around to ensure that no one was watching, he put one foot in the chain link fence, then another. He had to be careful not to cut his hands on the barbed wire that covered the top. As he swung his leg over, he lost his balance, toppling over. Thankfully, his schoolbag bag seemed to break his fall. Judging by the crunch, it had broken his new geometry set as well. His mother would not be pleased. Getting up, he felt a breeze, and suddenly realized that his pants had torn. Another problem.
A moment of worry passed over him. But then, looking into the tree, that worry was silenced by the thought of sweet mango juice in his mouth. He put down his bag before scaling his Everest. As he pressed against it, he felt the sticky sap from the mango trunk on his shirt. This was certainly not a good day for him, but it would all be worth it soon enough.
Up and up, higher and higher he went, until he was level with his trophy. He stretched for it, fingertips just brushing but not closing on the mango. Just out of reach. It summoned him to try a little harder, reach a little further. Finally, he lunged, grasping it for a second. Then it slipped out of his grasp, and he fell again. Grabbing onto a branch just before he hit the ground, he managed to break his fall.
He took a second to catch his breath, before the sad sight caught his notice. There, on a rock, was his mango. Broken. Butchered. Burst open, with the yellow juice spilling out. Tears began welling in his eyes.
“A WHO DAT?”
He jumped, startled, seeing a face peering through a now opened window. The boy jumped up, grabbed his bag, and ran for the gate.
“WAIT!” The voice behind him yelled, stopping him in his tracks. He turned around, only to see an old man walking towards him with something in his hands.
Could it be?
“If you min want some, you coulda min just ask,” the old man grumbled, pushing a pile of mangoes into the boy’s disbelieving yet welcoming hands. “Now get out ma yard!” the old man exclaimed.
The boy felt a lump in his throat rise as he managed to squeak out the words “Thank you” to the old man, before skipping down the road to enjoy his prize.
Bio: Daryl George is a 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge Honourable Mention. In 2013, he is winner and second placed writer in the 18 to 35 age category and second placed overall for Ceramic Blues and Julie Drops. Born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda, the Youth Department employee has always had a passion for literature. He attended the Antigua Grammar School, the Antigua State College and the University of the West Indies, graduating with a degree in Psychology; and recently completed a course at Bangor University in Consumer Psychology with Business.
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