When You Go Buy Oranges by Maya Sistruck

When you go to buy oranges on Martha’s Vineyard, don’t take the 10am ferry. The boat
traffic at that time will be terrible—crowds of burly fishermen, sticky children, and wives
in feathery hats will swarm the port of Oak Bluffs, desperate to start their day. The
carousel will have just opened for the summer, off-tuned music and candy-colored lights
twinkling against the salty morning air, and it will be a madhouse of noise and bodies.

Instead, take the earliest one into the Haven, east of Tisbury. It is quieter, tucked
behind the Vineyard Sound—more of a drive, yes, but greener and fresh. You will not be
bombarded by the crowds, half tourists and half leering-eyed locals, so they will not
notice you and your small duffel in first light.

When you go to buy oranges on Martha’s Vineyard, wander around the market
like you don’t know what you’re looking for. By this time, a breezy and bright noon, you
would’ve had about six hours to talk yourself out of this. If you pull into the gravel
parking lot with your melon-pink scarf and cat-eye shades, you haven’t psyched yourself
out yet, so you move forward. Go to the flower vendors, brush your fingers over the
stems, inhale the scent of dark Nantucket coffee, slip your ring into your pocket—shit—
count the holes in the wheels of cheese. It is not busy, the pre-lunch browsing period
having ended, quaint and calm. Of course, this will still feel loud to you when you see
him behind the crates of fruit: honey-brown skin, dark waves swooping over his dusky
eyes, white sweater sleeves rolled up just before his elbows. His smile is sweet, and you
will play coy until reality scoops you into its embrace. Just like he will, after he bags your
oranges and offers for you to join him on his smoke break. It is one-thirty; no one is
milling about the market anymore.

He will take you walking in the greenlands by the farm. The meaningless
conversation will distract you from the frothy sundress clinging to your thighs. There will
be a roll in the hay—literally and figuratively—when the conversation finally melts to
reveal its true center. The two of you will laugh softly, picking straw out of each other’s
hair, and the quick, arduous passion that once consumed you becomes cool and wistful.
Make it easy and concise: don’t crack too many awkward jokes, don’t ask about his plans
later. Instead, freshen yourself up, stuff your groceries in the duffel, nod politely when he
flashes you that sad smile—like some fantastic dream gone too soon. Do not watch his
truck leave. You should already be on the three-fifteen ferry out of the Haven.

When you go to buy oranges on Martha’s Vineyard, remember to put your ring on
before you slice them. Peel back the skin and the white wisps, press one firmly between
your fingers to feel its juicy docility—what you had once felt with him. Remember to set
them lovingly on a shiny plate and slide it underneath your husband’s nose at breakfast.
Remember that you will eventually run out and where you must return.

Maya Sistruck is a singer, actress, and writer studying BFA Musical Theatre and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. When she isn’t doing that, she can be found tending to plants and listening to K-Pop. Maya’s fiction works can also be found in The Open Page Literary Journal, associated with Holland House Books.

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