26 Fruits


Angel wings

Julia Buendia Allone was proud of her name, even though it made people uncomfortable. People said there was no more difficult name in the world. How do you pronounce it? I don’t mind, said Julia, it’s up to you. But people still wanted to know. They shied away from calling her ‘Alone’ although that was the obvious pronunciation to many. Perhaps they felt that labelling her with such a name represented a small act of cruelty. So Julia herself took pity and decided to distance herself from the perception of loneliness; she abandoned the liquid “ll”s and retreated to her Spanish roots with the contradictory certainty of a sound like a “y”.

Why? In truth she felt alone. At night her thoughts matched the darkness. Her head lay on the pillow which became a shell in which she listened to the hissing of her own thoughts and feelings. She was a writer. She was desperate to be a writer. So she wrote every day, constantly rewriting the same subject. The subject was herself, and she addressed her subject obsessively, listening to the thoughts of her feather-filled pillow.

One morning she woke and was aware of a sensation in her shoulders. It was not a pain, more like a tingling. Perhaps she had slept in a draft? She had a warm shower and noticed that she had two small bumps on either side of her backbone. She caressed them, as if to bring herself luck, and sat down to her writing.

The next day the bumps had changed. They had grown, becoming bulbous. She found herself straying from her subject, for the first time writing about the flowers on her window sill. She wrote on her rooftop, looking down at the people strolling through the street below.

She nurtured her bumps, showering them with love and soap. But then the bumps changed, they opened up like a bud in early spring. The buds were beautiful and they gave no pain.

Julia decided she should go out into the teeming streets, walking between the white-painted houses of the town. She wandered through places where she had never been before. People she hardly knew stopped her, calling out from the doorways of bars or from benches in the squares, and they told her how beautiful she looked. Strangers admired her, expressing their admiration with a word or a lingering gaze.

She looked in the mirror, back in her bathroom. It was true, she looked well, there was a glow about her. But when she turned her back, looking over her shoulder, she saw that the buds were now opening into what seemed to be flowers. The burgeoning flowers were exquisite and she knew that she had to write about them.

She thought about the doctor. It had been years since she had last visited the doctor. The unfolding flowers in her shoulders were unusual but she comforted herself that she felt no pain. And she had never felt better inside herself. She was writing in a way that she had never previously written. She feared that a doctor might treat her by removing the source of her wellbeing.

That night she woke from a deep dream and discovered that her pillow had lost all its plumpness. It was now just a pillowcase. It didn’t matter because she felt wide awake. The moon was shining, directing her to step outside onto the roof garden, where the flowers were wafting their scent onto the breeze. She looked down into the now-empty street to see that it was lit by the moon as if by daylight.

Julia felt drawn to look upwards at the pure whiteness of the moon. There was no cloud in the sky and the sheer emptiness seemed like an invitation. She looked back briefly and she smiled when she saw the wings on her shoulders. She stood on the railings of the roof, and she plunged off the side like a diver into the depths. But she didn’t fall, she soared, higher and higher, enjoying the sensation of the slow-beating wings, up and up towards the moon.

Then she knew that she had reached a point of balance, that she could rest in the air and look down at the round blue earth beneath her. She saw that the earth was wrapped in millions of thin lines, but that the lines were an invisible presence. She realised at last the secret of her name, discovering that she was not alone but that we live in a world where we are all one.

9 Responses

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thank you John for such a beautiful story, it certainly brought a tear to my eye. It fits so wonderfully right now, and gives a lovely chance to reflect on connection, and that writing gives us wings.

  2. Andy Hayes says:

    Thanks for sharing this, John.

    It’s a brilliant book. I’m going to dig it out and read it again – something to help me through the long lockdown hours ahead.

    Looking forward to the day I get to read your next novel.

    All the best,


  3. Irene says:

    Beautiful John, and like Andy, I’m going to take down my copy from the shelf and re-read.
    I do feel this is a time for reflection, to look at ourselves, what we as individuals are doing, thinking, planning and whether we’re on the right path. And looking at, reflecting on and really seeing the world around us, which many of us with busy lives, often self-isolating as writers/creatives with goals and deadlines in mind sometimes fail to do. To take time out to stop, watch the clouds, listen to the bees, make a blade of grass sing, create a daisy chain. Take care

  4. Rowena says:

    And what a beautiful book this turned into. Thank you for the reminder, John – and, as always, for your magical words.

  5. John J says:

    John: I really loved this piece. Both touching and inspirational. Re-read again and felt the bumps on my own back.

  6. Neil Baker says:

    Such a lovely story and suddenly so relevant. But I suppose that’s the magic of a good story – to always feel suddenly relevant. A treat to read it again.

  7. John Simmons says:

    Neil. I always loved the quotation from Ezra Pound: “Literature is news that stays news”

  8. simon Jones says:

    Blimey! what a peach! And accompanied by a Naomi too!

    Hope you and yours are dodging the protein?


  9. I love this story. Thank you for posting it, John.

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