Waking from my slumber, I wince. I smell oranges. I feel as though my childhood is just around the corner, but of course, it isn’t. We used to lose our footballs in the surrounding gardens, play catch with fruit and create rope-swings. Our cul-de-sac had been our oyster. I had the entire world at my feet or so it seemed.
I am dozing back into a well-deserved rest in front of the aged TV set we had the pleasure of being granted in this hostile, lemon-coloured dungeon of a home. I smell oranges. I leap up, the most energy I’ve exerted from my fragile body in years.
“I’m going out!”
I didn’t recognise the people around me. Everyone looked so much older than myself. I approached the bathroom as fast as I could and something didn’t feel right. Why couldn’t I run and gallop? Have I hurt myself?
The smell of oranges grew evermore upon my journey down the hall. Although, the mirror didn’t show me what I’d imagined it would. Wrinkled, used, deteriorated.
Sinking down against the wall, I cried out again. Mourning my childhood. It didn’t exist anymore.
I smell oranges. Wow. I should see what James and Daniel are doing today. Maybe Juliet will want to join us.
In the garden, vines grew over every brick. The grass wasn’t green, but yellow. There was no bowl of oranges on the table or flies to swarm it. Ma would never leave the garden like this.
A lady approached me but she wasn’t Ma. Too blonde, scowling too much and too slim.
“Come on Arthur, it’s time for tea and biscuits. You shouldn’t be out here.”
I wrestled when she took my arm. My Ma always told me to stay away from strangers and about how child abductions were becoming more and more common today. I can hear her in my mind, telling me to always check the milk cartons and remember the names. She always said she expected me to be careful so I never became a milk carton kid.
I struggled until I collapsed to my knees. My kneecaps made a large thud as I gave way and fell. The blonde lady looked down on me. Sympathy? I wasn’t sure.
I held my hands up to my face and let out a cry. I wanted Ma.
“Arthur, come inside.”
Looking at my hands, I awoke again. The smell of oranges wasn’t lingering, but a warm meal instead. I sat on the dying grass contemplating my own death. Everything I know is unattainable and fragmented. I mourned Ma all over again and James and Daniel and Juliet. Oh god, dear Juliet. I can’t smell oranges anymore.