Tropicana Moon

I sit outside beneath a Tropicana Moon. What is a Tropicana Moon you wonder? A slice of heaven pie high in the sky. A sliver of key lime pie and a sip of orangeade. Four ravens who chase the caws of each other. Sounds of marmalade and the sea. If I could taste the night I’d crack into it like burnt toast and my teeth would revel in every crunch.

I remember the first time burning the roof of my mouth when I was six years old after taking a large bite of steaming pizza fresh from the oven. My stepbrother Jeff and I were waiting patiently for his Mother to roll the slices out for us. I remember him turning towards me on the bar stool where we were sitting at the kitchen counter in the blue and white kitchen. He smiled warmly at me. His golden honey hair fell over his forehead like a curtain and this much I remember: counting the copper colored freckles sprinkled across his nose. He was sixteen years old.

“Wait before you take a bite, Jennifer. It’s going to be very hot.” Jeff warned.

I didn’t listen and the scalding cheese numbed my mouth for the rest of the week. One week after I graduated high school, Jeff died after taking too many drugs then falling asleep in the bath. At his funeral when it was my turn to speak I thought of his many copper colored freckles that would no longer generate new ones as old skin cells shed and settled into dust in his bedroom. I tasted that scalding hot pizza once more and my mouth became numb and dry; I could no longer speak so passed on my turn to my sister.

I want to burn the roof of my mouth on this sunset. I want to perish along with this day to make space for a new one in the morning. A tropicana moon like the Tropicana juice sold in frozen cans my Father used to buy for us because it felt fun and meant the beginning of summer. At our Mother’s house instant lemonade frozen into popsicle molds signaled summers bloom. It’s unnerving to sink into a summer night like this, tasting and smelling the foods I used to eat.


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