It wasn’t the hatred for doing chores and running errands that made Eli Darasim want to spend all his father’s grocery money to the dime on things that would make him happy. That was part of being a son: to help our your family when everyone is around doing who knows what. After all, it was the least he could do for the people who brought him into this world. He owes them that.
Had he been in any other family- or at least one that would treated him right- things might have been different. It came to the point where every other sentence that came out of his father’s mouth started the same way: ”Eli, can you…”
It wasn’t asking for favors. It wasn’t the dire need for apples or oranges. It was all busywork, to keep Eli out of the house. That was why he hated when his father ordered him out to the market for food. Eli always had a desire to be more connected to his family, but with every favor or chore his father made him do, it turned more into a far-fetched hope than a request for acceptance.
Eli didn’t purchase new tools, though, even if it did take a lot to resist. A ‘fuck you’ to his father wouldn’t contribute to his goal of feeling like a part of the Darasim family. So he walked the market, searching up and down the lines of foods for the mangos.
After no luck, he tapped a woman on the shoulder for assistance.
”You know where any mangoes are?” he said in his hush voice, hoping that the answer might lead him to buy a tool or two instead of the fruit.
Last Edit: Sept 16, 2017 13:39:12 GMT -5 by mattio
Steel thorns protect this rose from Two; but the world still passes me by slowly. Two has always been my home, my Grandmother would always tell me that there are secrets etched into the stumps of trees and that footsteps down forgotten pathways tell a hundred and one thousand different stories of love and lust. I like to walk them, eyeing the remnants of the past. It puts a glint in my eye, a spring in my step because it reminds me that history doesn't have to be a world away.
The path leads to a dead end though, and I find myself turning back. Back to where I started: the market. The air thick with natter and negotiation - it is the home of silver tongues and snakes who wish to barter for a bargain. I have no business here other than to absorb the atmosphere. Moments like these make me think that Two is the best place to live. Autumn winds blowing, not a care about yesteryear.
My Grandmother told me that times like this are treacherous. When people stop caring, it makes the moment they remember even worse.
"You know where any mangoes are?" A boy taps me on my shoulder before asking me about fruit. I don't know the first thing about mangoes, or any kind of exotic fruit for that matter, but it is polite to hold a conversation. I am polite girl, and so I arch a brow at the boy and give a toothy grin.
"Mangoes? What might you need them for? Baking a mango pie? A tart perhaps?" I tilt my head inquisitively, giving him the once over. Tall, dark and handsome. If he is rich, then I might just want a slice.
"Mangoes? What might you need them for? Baking a mango pie? A tart perhaps?"
Petty responses like these were the ones that always reminded Eli of why he hated confrontation. It always ends up feeling awkward and uncomfortable if you ask the wrong question or give the wrong answer. For him, the lack of quality social skills led to this situation time and time again.
Don’t be afraid to keep talking, Eli. She was just being funny. It’s just mangoes.
Eli laughed his awkward laugh and taps his feet out of nervousness, filling the void of silence while still managing to think of what to say. Conversation makes him nervous, but so does the potential consequences for not bringing home a mango for his father.
”To be honest, uh, I don’t really know,” Eli spoke, trying to conceal the nerves from the encounter. He gently slapped his list against the palm of his hand. The list was short: just one word in huge capital letters. “MANGOS.” It bugged Eli that his father spelled the word different than him, Eli always spelled it with the e between the O and S. ”my father must want a mango for something. He didn’t say what for, though.”
Mangoes, they were a stupid and pointless fruit. Just a way to get him away from home.
The boy laughs. It's an awkward one. Was it something I said, hmm, no, it can't have been. Simple questions about mangoes are nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. I arch a brow, in a different manner this time because the boy is confusing me, and I am not as intrigued as I was before. Perhaps he is just nervous - meeting new people can be scary, after all. My Grandmother always told me to be weary of new people because you never really know their motives.
My motives are nothing less than jolly. I just want some friendly conversation, maybe a new friend will come as a result of it. Nothing shady, nothing to be afraid of.
"To be honest, uh, I don't really know." Interesting. "My father must want a mango for something. He didn't say what for, though."
"Perhaps he really does want to make a pie. Have you ever had a mango? They're sweet, a bit slimy too. When I was little, we'd turn them into hedgehogs." I feel like I've lost him. "Slice them up into cubes and turn it inside-out. It made fruit fun." I smile.
I used to be 'allergic' to fruit, that was, before my parents made an effort to force me to eat it. I don't know what was wrong with me - perhaps I just didn't like the thought of eating something from a tree. It seems quite bizarre when you think about it. It is almost like a plant's baby. But alas, I came to my senses.
Everyday moments like these define how hard it is to make friends in this world. Whether to laugh, smile, say thank you, et cetera, Eli never knew what to say or how to act. It was all a blur; a guessing game, his fingers constantly crossing, and once his hopes lifted high into the sky, a single brow of confusion would tear it down for the rest of the day.
That’s what happened here. He wasn’t supposed to laugh, it wasn’t a joke. It was a genuine question. But as she spoke back to him, he felt a bit of reassurance. Not because she was particularly reassuring, but the fact that she even continued the conversation. Most people in his encounters would just leave immediately and he’d be off hunting up and down for mangoes.
"Perhaps he really does want to make a pie. Have you ever had a mango? They're sweet, a bit slimy too. When I was little, we'd turn them into hedgehogs. Slice them up into cubes and turn it inside-out. It made fruit fun."
Eli’s face turned from a nervous smile to a lowered brow to a face of utter confusion all as she spoke in one breath. He nodded, trying to seem relatable. ”Nope, never had one. I’m more of the apples and oranges kind of guy I guess.”
It took a few moments, but he finally formed a joke.
”What kinda animals did you make out of those ones?”
I watch as his smile drops, his brows come down and he looks at me in a state of disgust. Maybe it is disgust, maybe he is just a bit lost. It isn't every day that you get told about someone who turns fruit into an animal, although, that is just how it was in our household. But then again, I suppose that not everyone is raised the same way that a Vyperion is raised.
We are raised for power and influence. For crowns and jewels and riches; not love, our motives are darker when we want them to be.
But here, there is no place for darkness. Only light.
"Nope, never had one." A great shame. "I'm more of the apples and oranges kind of guy I guess." I see, I see. I think that he is one of the people who is not as rich as my family. Struggling to get a few coins together to pay for a few luxuries now and again; we never had that problem. Death is a bittersweet time: you lose a relative, but you gain their fortune.
"What kinda animals did you make out of those ones?" I respond with light laughter.
"We didn't turn those into animals. My mother used to bake them into delicious desserts or treats. Apple pies, marmalade." I tilt my head back, recalling a memory where my Grandmother sliced an apple into very fine slices, before shaping them into a rose and baking them. A small tart -- I think that I'd like to try my hand at making one of those soon.
"Cherries are my favourite, though. Soft on the outside, but stone at the heart."
She laughed after he asked what animals she makes from the apples and the oranges. Similar to when Eli laughed after the comment about the mango pie and tarts, he didn’t find what he said to be very funny. It was a genuine question. To make a hedgehog out of mangoes but not to create something of an apple seemed exotic and extra.
"We didn't turn those into animals. My mother used to bake them into delicious desserts or treats. Apple pies, marmalade."
Everyone in this District seems to have such nice things to say about their mothers. This girl was no different. Eli had no mother to make nice things for him or his brothers. It was just him, Alexander, Chase, and Dad. And even at that, none of the boys in the Darasim family were good cooks. Just ate the food they wanted to or pay others to make food for them. He had no mother to share a sweet bond or countless memories with, and that made him feel empty- half of his genes lost because he knew nothing of them.
"Cherries are my favourite, though. Soft on the outside, but stone at the heart."
”Cherries are nice,” he blurted out words without taking much thought. He then tapped his index finger and thumb together, hoping it would give him ideas of what to say. ”That’s very creative of you. The cherry analogy.”
Eli smiled, but remembered that his father would be angry if he arrived home too late for his liking.
"Cherries are nice," he says. Ah, a man after my own heart, someone with a taste for delight. He speaks out quickly, I think that he has surprised himself, you know. His forefinger and thumb tap to a silent beat before he continues. "That's very creative of you. The cherry analogy."
"So, uh, mangoes? Yes? No?"
"Thank you. I've always been proud of my words. I learnt from the best, my Grandmother. She knows this world like the back of her hand and knows the right time and the right place." I tilt my head, staring past the boy as I get lost in thought. "She's always been wise. The knowledge is in our blood. Thick with secrets and lies, that is what she says. I think that is only a bad thing if you want it to be."
"Oh!" I say, eyes flashing open as I look back to the boy. "Mangoes. You wanted mangoes. No, I don't know, sorry." I tell him. "Can I ask your name, dear boy?" It is always nice to know who you might have on your side if a war breaks out. Grandmother would say that you should always know a person's name because then they feel more connected, it creates a better relationship. There is more trust, more hope.
Everyone needs a little bit of hope, yes? Some people, however, only need a few mangoes, though.
He only came to the market for a mango or two, not to go into a full blown conversation with someone he just met on the streets. He felt a little bad that he was the one who was trying to cut the conversation short (as usually he'd beg to talk to someone), but Eli Darasim was getting a combination of confusion, sadness, and fear from this girl.
Confusion, she seemed like the type of person who was writing her autobiography with every word that came out of her mouth. And although he found autobiographies rather interesting, Eli was running errands and his father expected him to be home a while ago. His father already pointed out every mistake Eli ever made, even the smallest. If Eli disobeyed his rules and requests and curfews, his father would be furious.
Sadness, the constant mention of her mother and grandmother hit him hard: he never knew his mother, nor either of his grandmothers. Every time she said it, his heart spiked with jealousy, the constant hatred of not knowing what could have been if he knew them consumed him.
And third? Fear. Something just seemed off about this girl, and Eli couldn't exactly find the words to describe it. Sketchy. Enticing.
By the time she ended her ramble over knowledge, secrets, and lies (which Eli actually found rather interesting,) she came clean about having no clue where the mangoes were in the market. All this time wasted, and for no sliver of a clue to where the mangoes are.
He responds quickly, a friendly smile forming on his face when he tells me his name.
"Eli. Eli Darasim. And yours?"
"Margaery," I say, eyes wider than the sun. "Margaery Vyperion." I take his hand and shake it. It is always pleasant to make a good first impression, you never know who you could be meeting and how important they may be. Being polite never harms anyone, and if you're going to kill them, why not kill them with kindness?
"I have a feeling we could be friends, Eli." I look at him, but something behind him catches my attention. A market trader restocks their stall with fruit and I swear by Ripred that I have just seen a few ripe mangoes get put on sale. Oh, joy, this is exactly what Eli needs! "Oh, look!" I place my hands on his shoulders, forcing him to turn around to see the same exciting sight that I see.
"Mangoes! Lots of them, isn't that perfect?" I walk a few steps over to the stall, hoping that he will follow. The stall is filled with succulent, ripe fruit of all sorts. It is most definitely from other districts, we don't have nice enough weather to grow half of these fruits. They have all fruits under the sun: pears and apples, peach and grapes. They even have a few cherries.
Her name is Margaery, like margarine except with an “eee” sound rather than “in.” The last name comes out too, Vyperion, and it rings no bells. Eli felt her hand grab his and make an up and down motion. At first, he thought he'd made a friend, but then he quickly his brain back a few steps: acquaintances, friendly acquaintances at the very most.
”I have a good feeling we could be friends, Eli.”
His brain returned to the friendship level, and Eli smiled from ear to ear. Friends. Common for others but beyond rare for him. Extraordinary.
Something catches Margaery’s eye and she forces the Darasim around in a one-eighty turn. Mangoes, right under their noses.
She walks toward them, and he follows.
”Yeah, perfect!” he said, trying to hide the sadness that he no longer had an excuse for not bringing home mangoes. The list of fruits the stall has seems to be a great variety.
”Can I have two mangoes, please?” he said to the vendor, brown eyes gazing at the arrangement.
He nudged Margaery, ”You want some cherries? They're your favorite, right?”
"Yeah, perfect!" He follows close by, eyeing up the great selection of fruit the vendor offers. "Can I have two mangoes, please?"
The vendor asks for an obscene amount of money for the two fruits, and I arch a brow.
"Good sir, good day. I know that we can get those mangoes at a much cheaper price three stalls down. Cut it by half and you'll still have our service, if not," I frown a little, my tone drifting into disappointment. "Well, it'll be a sad day for you." The man quickly drops the price, his eyes widening at the fact someone dared to bargain with him. Words like steel, my tongue drives a good deal and won't stop until it has been achieved. I smile, Eli is welcome.
"You want some cherries? They're your favourite, right?"
"Oh, indeed!" I take a bagful of cherries, peering into them. Blood red and shiny, they are the perfect treat on an autumn day like this. "I'll take these, my friend." I say, shoving a hand into my pocket to retrieve a coin to pay the man. He takes it, I don't even know what I gave him but if it is anything more than what I paid last time for cherries, I'll be a little irate.
"Wonderful. We're halfway towards a fruit salad." A soft laugh escapes from my lips. I reach my hand to take a cherry, taking a small bite from it. Sticky and sweet, it is just the way I like it. "Nothing beats fresh fruit. Your father will be very happy with these, I'm sure."
The vendor asks for a pretty large payment for just two mangoes, the size that you can almost wrap around your whole hand. Eli Darasim would have been happy to give it to him, it would help him waste more of his father’s money. Had Eli not spent it all, he probably would have just demanded the change back. However, Margaery didn’t seem like the type to go out without a bargain. She brings the price down by half, and for that Eli tries to fake a smile. Generous, Margaery Vyperion is, but too generous for Eli Darasim’s scenario.
She gladly accepts the offer for cherries, but what she does surprises him. She pays for herself. Eli wasn’t upset, he was just planning to pay for her, his treat for finding the mangoes that seemed to be right under their noses.
"Nothing beats fresh fruit. Your father will be very happy with these, I'm sure."
Eli smiled, reaching into his pocket for the coins to pay the mangoes and then some. Dropping the coins into the vendor’s hand, Eli took the two mangoes and placed them in a bag, then wrapped it around his rest.
He turned to Margaery, holding on the rest of the money his father gave him.
”As a thank you, for finding those mangoes,” he smiled. ”I probably never would have found them without you.”
It was a lie, he could have found them had he turned around, but Eli wanted to seem grateful that someone who called him her friend was such a helping hand.
"Hope so." Eli says, hand diving into his pocket to pay for the mangoes. He retrieves the mangoes from the seller, placing them into a bag. He turns to me, holding out the remainder of the coins. "As a thank you, for finding those mangoes, I probably would never have found them without you."
"Thank you," I tell him, graciously accepting the money and taking it into my left hand. My fingers curl around the cash, and for a second I stare into space wondering what on earth I could do with it. I don't need the extra pocket money and I am sure that there is someone who needs it more than I; that is when a child walks into my gaze. I'll give it to someone like them, someone who deserves a treat even though they haven't had one in a few years.
If you approach anyone with an open heart, they will return the same love tenfold.
But for now, I give Eli a smile and offer a silent promise that the spare change will go to good use. Roses have thorns, understandably, but sometimes everyone needs a reminder that they are beautiful too.
"I take it you should get back to your father soon. When you find out what he needs those mangoes for, you tell me, I'm intrigued." Soft tone, friendly. I suppose there are only so many things that you can do with a mango or two, though the possibilities escape me. I pop another cherry into my mouth, taking the stone out of the previous and throwing it aside. Perhaps it'll grow into something one day.
She accepts his offer, and for that, Eli Darasim is grateful. Margaery seemed to be pretty well off, so maybe she didn’t need but, but he would be more than willing to give cash to even President Snow, had it been a good sign of gratitude. Now, he had no cash to jingle around in his pockets for the thieves who mugged him a while ago to steal. So unless they wanted some dumb mangoes, they could screw off and get off Eli’s back.
"I take it you should get back to your father soon. When you find out what he needs those mangoes for, you tell me, I'm intrigued."
Eli smiled, nodding. The truth of the matter was, if he saw her again, that would be the first thing he told her. And it wouldn’t be hard for Eli to remember the face, the beautiful face. With so few people making him comfortable in this world (and Margaery being one of them), he could pick her out in a mob of people.
”I will, but it’s probably for something stupid I’m sure,” he held on closely to the mangoes. Chances were his father would throw them out by nightfall at the latest.
”Thank you, again. I’ll see you around?”
Eli was happy to have made a friend, or at least a person who didn’t loathe him.
After her response, he spun the bag of mangoes around and around, walking away from the market and Miss Margaery Vyperion.