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winter fruit
by monique quintana

What does snow look like down in the California ocean? I want it to look like cone gardens and taste like coconut eye cream after 80s night at Strummers on NYE. I left Long Beach before I could see the other side of the hill; it slept like an overturned pot, wrought-toned and quiet, that felt like an eye-roll to my ancestors or worse. I spent two teacher conference days drinking cold chocolate and almond milk, bitter like my favorite baby doll, a generic Cabbage Patch one, the one I pretended was a brown girl like me, but who was I kidding? She had a factory tan, and I packed her away, but she still remembered. I was still waiting for a reconciliation.


I shuffled over to a modest Hyatt hotel near the LAX and fasted instead of eating breakfast in the morning, black tea sans sugar, and went to Venice Beach to kill time before my flight. I almost stopped to finger-trace the sailboats but stopped, thinking that such a small gesture would be for someone else, not just me. My grain-colored margarita hit like a door chime, and I scanned books arranged on a magazine rack with die-cut flyers and cartoons.


I thought daydreaming about dolls and crows in the hotel lobby would be worth it. I set open my luggage on a settee, careless of who would see my flat lay as I did it only for myself and not a photograph. I had bought an entire micro wardrobe while I had been away. I wrapped a green and yellow flannel shirt around my palm to make it fit into my bag. A novel and two memoirs almost busted the zipper, and I thought about you briefly and how close we came to sharing a cold winter birthday. Darning my pantyhose into tight rosettes of vertical lines, I thought about peeling mandarins. I thought about that garish film Somewhere in Time, the one I saw when I was five, and it scared me for weeks. The one where Richard gets sucked back to where he came from.

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