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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Lemon and Lime
By Sara Harricharan


Janine always ate her gummy bears head-first. When she was in a good mood, she’d bite the heads off and stick them on different colored bodies. Sometimes I laughed with her and other times I winced.

I could almost feel her dentures closing ‘round my neck as she cackled and swallowed each chewy delight. There was a lecture for every bear, regardless of color or size and I was witness for the crimes of each before judgment was passed.

It’s cheesy and pointless. But I love her for it.

“Company!” She crowed, flashing a cheeky little grin as the cobweb of wrinkles smoothed out at the corners. Her gnarled fingers reached for the striped candy bag I clutched in my hands. “Mine?”

“Yeah…I mean, yes. Hi Janine.” I handed over the precious treats and nodded to the nurse standing in the doorway of the nursing home. “We’ll stay outside, thanks.” I pushed her wheelchair to a corner of the front porch for our visit.

“You’re a bad little boy.” She cooed at a yellow gummy bear, holding up a green bear in the other hand. “And you’re a jealous little girl! You two deserve each other!” A smirk registered as she happily gnawed the heads off and stuck the bodies together. “Lookit!”

I made myself smile. “…clever.”

Janine snorted. “You’re not writing it down.”

“Oops.” I pretended to remember, deliberately fumbling through every pocket of my trenchcoat before pulling a battered notebook from one pocket. “Repeat it again?”

It was the question she wanted.

It was a game I played.

“How come he’s bad and she’s jealous?” I sat on the ground at her feet, notebook resting on her lap as I watched her sort through the bag for another green and yellow pair.

“He’s cheating on her because she’s so overprotective.” Janine triumphantly produced another matched pair. “He’s a lemon, but she’s a real lime.” She winked conspiratorially. “Write it down!”

“I finally got an apartment, Janine.” I scribbled in the notebook, looking up to accept the smooshed bears she held at my lips. “Fank ouf.”

She pinched my nose. “Manners! No talking with your mouth full!”

I chewed and swallowed. “It looks over the river…it’s closer to the university, so I save a half-hour of driving every day. Mom doesn’t like it and Dad says I’m throwing money away on such a tiny place, but it’s cozy. I think you’d like it.”

“The lemon liked little places.” She mused. “But the lime needed lime-light. She was a city girl, green through and through.”

I scribbled that down. “Paster Maguire says hello again. Try not to skip church this week—it makes him worry me about you.”

“The lemon worried a lot, but the lime didn’t.” Janine frowned. “Keep writing!”

“I am…I am!” The pen traveled across the page. Janine couldn’t read. She wouldn’t know what I wrote. “My second script is being reviewed by the drama club. They said they might produce it this semester. I had fun writing it even though it was a lot of work. You were a great inspiration.”

“Lime worked very hard for everything, but lemon threw it away.”

“Pesky lemon.” I crumbled into her fantasy, tucking the notebook back into a pocket and sticking the pen in my hair. “…poor lime.” Picking out the yellow and green bears, I deposited them in her waiting hands. “I’ve got to stop at the dry cleaners to pick up my suit, job interview at nine tomorrow—if I’m lucky, I’ll be a junior in the sales department at Busco!”

It is time to leave.

A peck on the cheek is mandatory.

“Come back?”

“Yeah. I mean, yes. Next week.”

Another kiss for the other cheek.

I love you, grandma.

The nurse is ready to take her patient back. I watched them disappear. I have a hundred things to do, a billion of them important—but no way to express them, no way to share them.

For all that I am, with all I could write.

I have no words. I cannot cry.

So I run away.

To memories. To people. To ghosts who can’t remember me. I smile. I laugh. I pretend.

My writer’s life is bittersweet—more bitter than sweet.

I pretend I can’t see, can’t hear, can’t feel. I lie so everything seems alright.

In the end, I’m a lemon, cheating on myself…and a jealous lime, wishing I could wake up from another slice of reality, because I messed up.


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This article has been read 684 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Vandertogt05/21/10
I hesitated to comment because I really don't understand the ending, maybe just the essence of it. But I do know you write well, and I don't think you'll be in advanced for long. Keep writing.
Brenda Shipman 05/22/10
Loved the dialogue and the way you set up the scene - both were excellent! If this is written from personal experience, you are one terrific granddaughter (bless you for that!) Good choice of colors for the gummy bears - the lemons and limes are always rejected. ;) Okay, here's the hard part. I really did not get where you ended up with this story. Beginning with, "I have a hundred things to do...", I felt lost after that, like your story suddenly switched to a jumble of emotions about something in which you feel you "messed up". The ending and the rest of the story felt disconnected. I DO like how you used the lemon and lime gummies to express how you felt - that was a nice technique. You're a good writer, though, and I do hope you stick with this and zero in on what exactly you were hoping to communicate here. Bless you, fellow writing friend!
Beth LaBuff 05/26/10
I loved that your MC was encouraged to write during her visits… and yet you left it to the reader to imagine what exactly she did write. I also loved the lemon/lime used throughout your story. Your compassionate MC's heart shines through this.
Ann Grover05/26/10
The ending could be polished up with a little brainstorming, because the premise is wonderful and you developed the characters in a realistic and endearing way. (Red ink: tense inconsistency and some grammar errors.)
Kate Oliver Webb 05/26/10
Really endearing tale here, with lots of creativity with the gummies' colors and all. I must agree about the ending...I'm sort of lost. There must be an underlying point of turmoil in your MC, but I'm missing it. Great writing; you use words well.
Mona Purvis05/26/10
Because this is so good until...I hope you will post here to explain your ending. I want to get it.
Loved the characters. Did I say how much I loved the characters? So believable. And interesting. Just need to understand the turmoil you leave us with.

Lyn Churchyard05/26/10
Nothing wrong with the ending, Sara, I think it's perfect. This was another of your moving, well-written entries. xx
Lyn Churchyard05/28/10
Hmmm, 24th overall and 11th in Level Three. Not bad for someone who didn't like the ending of their story. No, not bad at all :-)
Ruth Stromquist06/02/10
I think I understand the ending. But the line, "I have a hundred things to do..." kind of confused and threw me also. The rest of it I felt like I understood -- felt like the MC was using the writing as a cushion to help cope with the reality of seeing her grandmother in hard circumstances, and with other hard realities of life.