“I’m Red,” she says, feeling a little thick-skinned and not really wanting to engage.
“I’m kind of red too,” he counters, hoping to find common ground.
“You’re not red. You’re kind of yellow.”
“What! I am not yellow. I’m more bold!”
“Well you’re definitely not red,” she says, refusing to be put in the same box as this stranger. The chill from the air conditioning and the cold fluorescent lighting match Red’s frigid attitude.
“I’m juicy…” He wonders if sticking to the positive might peel away Red’s thick layers.
“Ugh. You leave a bitter taste in my mouth.” Who does this guy think he is?
“You’re so dense! This is impossible.” I’m losing my cool. Maybe I should just split.
“Oh don’t worry, honey, some other fruitcake might be willing to let you in.”
“But I’m not interested in anyone else!” He had been waiting for the chance to talk to her and can’t help but take on the challenge. “You’re different from all the other girls in the market. I like that you’re kind of tough and I think once you get past that firm exterior, there’s a tender sweet soul in there.”
He continues, “I know we’re as different as can be, and it’s totally natural to be a little scared of that which is not like us, but…”
“I’m not scared! I just… it would never work between us. I like the cool autumn breeze, you thrive hanging around in the sun. I’m more of a pie kind of girl, you’re more into marmalade. I go in, you go on. I… we… we’re just too different.”
“I honestly don’t think you can even think of many ways that we are really that different. Red, I’m tired of being alone. And I think you simply shine…”
Red blushes to an even deeper shade of crimson.
“Don’t you think it’s about time we stop comparing apples and oranges? Together we could make something totally new! An Orpple? Or an Applange, perhaps?”
They both smile.
“Just come with me tonight to the Berryz Jam and we’ll see if maybe we have a few things in common after all.”
Red looks at him, her exterior starting to feel a little less fibrous.
“I’m Clem, by the way. Ya, that’s right. I bet you took one look at me and took me for one of those run-of-the-mill oranges. Orange you glad I’m not?” He chuckles to himself. “I’m actually a hybrid between a Mandarin and a sweet Orange. I’ve just always been a little big compared to other Clementines. So I’m kind of deep, huh? …and a little tangy.” They both laugh. “I guess that’s why I’ve always been drawn to those who are little different.”
She sighs. “Name’s Red Delicious. I know I’m a looker; they tell me all the time. But once you get to know what I’m really like, you’ll probably pass me over for Fuji or Gala over there, like most People. From a young age, they changed me, tried to make me more appealing. But my insides have turned to mush. I’m on the decline, buddy. You’re wasting your time.”
“Time was made to be wasted, sweetheart. And I see something special in you. I want to know the whole story. Come on, just one date. We’ll get juiced and plan your comeback.”
Red sees the earnestness in Clem’s face. I was so involved with myself, I hadn’t noticed how sweet he is. Before she even knows what she’s saying, Red blurts out, “I’m sorry I judged you.”
“No worries,” Clem assures her, feeling so giddy he could roll around in plain sight. “We can all be pretty fruity sometimes. Pick you up at 9pm after the store closes? I’ll be right on time, when the time is ripe.”
“Okay, but can we lay off the fruit puns a little?”
“Sorry, I know. I’m corny.”
“Gah! No vegetable puns either!”
“I think olive you already.”
“I can’t tell if that was a pun or not. And what is an olive anyway? Is it even a vegetable?”
“I’ll see you at 9pm,” says Clem. “And I’ll stop making puns if you stop separating everyone into different baskets.”
“You got yourself a deal, Clem.” There is a twinkle in the apple of Red’s eye. “I think we might actually make a great pear.”
Together, they laugh.