Short fiction: "A Conspiracy of Non-Metaphorical Fruit"
He never went on many dates, so he was determined not to muck this one up. She was a voluptuous knock-out, and because of it, he was all the more in disbelief that she had said yes. Which in turn meant he was now a twitchy bundle of nerves despite his desire to stay cool and collected.
As they sat there in a little downtown bistro, he mentioned how much he was looking forward to their after dinner entertainment.
“I’ll be honest with you,” she said. “I don’t have the attention span for some silly movie.”
“But it’s not silly. It has Meryl Streep.”
“What I mean is that movie-watching is a passive activity, and I’m looking for something a little more active.” On the word ‘active’, she snaked a foot up his pant leg.
“Er, what did you have in mind?” He was now stammering as he spoke. It made her giggle.
“Well, why don’t we go back to your place and figure it out there?” She was saying this playfully, but he could picture the clock of her impatience ticking down, down, down. Time to lower the boom that normally ended the date.
“There’s one small problem,” he began, shifting uncomfortably.
“What is it? Are you a virgin?”
“No!”, he said, blushing.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ll be careful with you.”
“I’m not a virgin!”, he said with rising anger, which only served to further stimulate her interest in him.
She licked her lips seductively. “Then what is this so-called ‘problem’?”
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then blurted it out: “There’s fruit growing in my bedroom.”
“There is fruit growing in my bedroom,” he said, pronouncing each syllable slowly and deliberately.
He watched her face go momentarily blank as she processed his words, and then saw a look of happy arousal take over as she decided on an interpretation. “You devil,” she said. “Presenting a sexual metaphor as a ‘problem’. How naughty.”
“You don’t understand. I don’t mean metaphorical fruit. I’m talking about real fruit. Growing right there in my bedroom.
“Ooooh!” she said, squealing with delight as other patrons began to look over and take notice. “Can I bring some fruit of my own to the party?” Dropping her voice down to a sultry whisper, she purred, “How about a fuzzy peach?”
Sensing his discomfort, she leaned forward, letting her round, balloon-like breasts rest on the table. “Or perhaps you’d prefer a pair of honeydew melons?”
He’d had enough. If she wasn’t going to take him at his word, then he had no choice but to show rather than tell.
“Alright. Let me pay the bill and I’ll take you to my garden, if you know what I mean.”
She stood just outside the doorway to his bedroom, feeling a mix of awe and revulsion at the fruit-bearing vines and branches clogging the space inside. It was thick enough with vegetation that one wouldn’t even guess that this was a bedroom. “I can’t see the furniture,” she said, dumbfounded.
“It’s in there somewhere,” he replied. “I haven’t been able to access my bed since the day we met.”
“You see, all this vegetation only ever shows up when I fall for a woman. I have no idea how or why it happens, only that it occurs without fail.”
A look of sympathy crossed her face. “That’s so sad.”
“Yes, it is.”
After an awkward few moments, the conversation turned to small talk, which allowed her segue into an announcement that she had to get going.
“Can I see you again sometime?” he ventured, knowing in his heart the answer would be no, but trying anyway.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t’ think so. This is a little too much for me. Nothing personal.”
Later that evening he stood in the laundry room, lulled deep into thought by the relentless spin cycle rhythm cleansing his berry-stained bed sheets of their non-metaphorical fruit juice. He surprised himself with how used to this he was getting, as if he was finally developing some sort of stoic outer shell when it came to his life's lack of romance. Nevertheless, he wasn't proud of this situation. (Numbness and pride are not one and the same.)
In keeping with the ongoing pattern, she was gone and, right on schedule, so was the fruit and all of its associated branches and foliage.