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Friday, March 18, 2011

I love lemons: A short story

You may recall my telling you of a writing exercise in which I wrote down whatever "first lines" came to my mind (you can read that post here if you missed it). One of those first lines is the one you see below. Last night I decided to freewrite to this first line, and developed the short story that follows.


     I really need to quit stealing lemons. I don't mean to do it. I mean, I want those lemons. They make the best lemonade. They're perfect for stuffing a bird. And they make my hair really shiny! I love lemons, but I don't mean to just take them. I can afford to buy them.
     I have a great job. I'm a dog walker! Oh, I'm not just any dog walker. I walk some pretty well-off dogs, belonging to the rich and generous couples living in those condos right over there. It's a great job. I get lots of exercise. I get to spend time with my favourite creatures - the dogs, I mean. And the job pays really well.
     I meet the nicest people too, when I'm walking my dogs. Randall owns a Bichon Shih Tzu. Cutest little thing you ever saw - the dog, I mean. Oh, Randall's cute enough, I suppose. The ladies at Shady Acres sure do love him. They always rush out to meet him and Felix as we walk past. Felix is a charmer too. Mrs. Wumple always gives him three little treats when she sees him, pats his little head as he licks her nose, and then gives him three more. I think she must have had a dog once that she misses very much. She always gets a little teary when Randall and Felix say goodbye. She must be very lonely. Boy, do I know how she feels!
     I live alone. Well, except for my guinea pig, Charlie. My landlord doesn't allow dogs. Charlie's sweet. He nuzzles right up under my chin every night and makes the cutest little snuffling sounds when he sleeps. Every now and then he stretches out his little limbs and lets out a big sigh. I love Charlie. But I wish Charlie was a man and not a guinea pig. I mean that I wish I had someone to love and curl up with at night.
     There's such an ache in my heart. Well, that's why I keep stealing all those lemons, you see? The grocer, Nick, is the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on. When I see him I freeze and melt at the same time! I can't think straight. I never make it past the lemons. I roll them around in my hands, smelling them and squeezing them. I stare at Nick for the longest time and then run away like a fool when he turns to look my way. And so it happens. I arrive home with five or six lemons. Stolen! I don't mean to do it. He's just so beautiful.
     Our eyes have never met. I don't think he's ever even noticed me. Well, how else could I keep getting away with stealing all those lemons? I need to find another grocer. I can't keep stealing lemons! Anyway, it's getting harder and harder to shop at Nick's. Every time I go there the lemons are in a different place. It takes me quite a while to find them. Maybe I'm imagining it, but it seems they move further and further into the store every week. Maybe lemons aren't selling very well these days. Or... oh no! Maybe he knows someone is stealing his lemons and he wants to keep a closer eye on them!
     Oh, now I don't know what to do. I need lemons. Here they are at the top of my list as always, and here I am now at Nick's. I should go somewhere else. No. No, I'm here now, and you know what? I'm not going to run away this time. I'm going to pick out some lemons, pay for them and walk calmly out of Nick's store.
     Where are they today? Oh, here we are. One. Two. He is so beautiful. Focus. Lemons. Three. Four. He's wearing the periwinkle shirt again today. Oh, help! Five. Five lemons ought to do. Help! He's coming this way! He knows. He knows I stole the lemons! Don't panic. Don't run. Just drop the lemons and... Is he... smiling at me? Maybe the woman behind me. No, he's smiling at me, and handing me a basket. Don't move. Don't panic. Help! Nick is putting lemons in my basket, smelling and squeezing each one first, never taking his eyes from mine. And he's smiling! 
     Oh, how my heart aches at this moment.
     I'm so glad I didn't run today.
     I really do love lemons. 

Retrieved March 17, 2011 from http://ecosalon.com/its-a-lemon-its-an-orange-its-a-meyer/


The previous account is purely fictional. I like this character, but she is not me... assuming she is a she and not a he (she sounds like a she to me, but I could be wrong). I like lemons, but not any more than the next guy. I'm not a dog walker. I'm more of a cat person. I don't live alone and don't have a guinea pig, but I think pigs of any kind are very cute. I don't know anyone named Nick and I'm not stalking a grocer. I do like the colour periwinkle. I'm pretty sure I've never stolen a lemon.


  1. Very cute story! :-) It made me laugh, especially picturing her in the produce section holding lemons but watching Nick the produce guy.

  2. Thanks Karen! :) I've got your book, Take the Monkeys and Run in my TBR collection. It looks like a really fun read, so I'm anxious to get to it!

  3. For a first effort this is quite good, SJM. Love that Nick. Would you call this a short story or an essay?

  4. Hi joydeb. Thanks for your feedback! I wasn't sure what to call it. 'Essay' might be more fitting. It's really too short even to be called a short story, but I thought it might be too long to call it a VSS. I wrote it very quickly as a free-writing exercise, spent a few minutes editing and then posted it. I'm hoping to find some time to develop it further and to incorporate feedback from others who have emailed me.

    It was fun writing Nick! Thanks again for taking the time to read my work!