|WILLOW'S MAGPIE NO. 55|
The orange and lemon were lying side by side in the fruit bowl. There wasn't much to do, except lie around and argue about which of them was the more useful, more important, more widely travelled, and allround champion.
"You're no better than me", said the orange, who thought that she'd win easily, being very fruity and full of herself. "In fact, I think I have the advantage over you because I can be peeled and eaten fresh, straight from the tree, whereas you are a sour, acidy little thing nobody in their right mind would want to eat raw. Ever heard the expression 'sucking on a lemon' ? That tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?"
The lemon was hurt and thought hard and long. True, nobody had ever complimented him on his gorgeous taste, but he was bright and shiny, like sunlight at its most intense. That must count for something.
When he mentioned that, the orange laughed. "My sunlight is hotter than yours, an orange sun burns brighter than a yellow sun". "We both come from the Far East, we have both been around since before the Crusades, we are both called citrus, so you can't trump me that way", the orange continued. "Besides, I can not only be eaten raw but I also make delicious juice, jelly, conserves, marmalade, syrup and salad".
The lemon cheered up when he heard that. Not only could he become everything the orange had claimed for herself, - well, maybe nobody really wanted to eat him in a salad except as part of the vinaigrette, but, hey, when it came to food, he definitely had the necessary zest, and to spare.
"I'll have you know, you pathetic, useless little upstart, that I have been used by the greatest chefs in history", he bragged, "let me remind you of chicken with lemon, fresh and preserved, duck with lemon, every kind of fish with lemon, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, lemon drizzle cake." He was on a roll now."And how about every bit of me, from zest to juice, top to toe, in marinades, stuffings, sorbets, butters, creams, custards and curds.
The orange was silent; there was duck and orange, of course, and orange curd; but she was unlikely to be used in quite as many dishes as the lemon obviously was. Both their skins were turned into candied peel, there was no point mentioning that.
The lemon had won the argument. There was nothing for it, the honourable thing to do was to admit defeat, and commit hara-kiri. They'd both be disembowelled soon enough anyway.
As a member of the blood orange family her death stained fruit bowl, the instrument she'd used and the lemon itself the colour of blood.