How to Peel an Orange

Callan Foster


  1. See her. She’s across the table, waiting in a brightly colored fruit bowl. She’s flirting with the persimmons to catch your attention. It’s working. She’s caught your attention. You walk over, take her by the hand, and pull her close to your body. Her skin is cool and smooth against yours. You bring her to your lips and kiss her sweet rind.
  2. Undress her, but be gentle. She’s never done this before. Cup her in your palms and breathe her in. Doesn’t she smell refreshing? Like summertime or wintertime or a time when things were easy? Aw. Look how shy she is. So cute, isn’t it? Use your nails if you can; use your teeth if you need to. Don’t be scared, you whisper as you puncture the rind, this will only hurt for a moment. You lick the juice dripping down your hand, dragging your tongue along the length of your wrist. Reassure her that she can trust you. She doesn’t move as you pick at the skin near her stem. She’s quieter now, but you don’t mind that, do you?
  3. Pull. When she resists, pull harder. Soon she will give, and when she does, watch her wilt. Her gaze falling not on you, but on the popcorn texture of the ceiling. She’ll count the dots over and over. Watch closely. See how she unfolds for you. See how she falls apart for you. Unravel her until there’s nothing left but pink and orange flesh. Pick at the strands of pith that cascade off her body. Careful, don’t bruise her. Not yet.
  4. Gather her clothes on that chair in the corner. You know the one. Don’t be rude, fold it nicely. Stack the bits of rind and pith into a tower. Don’t let it tip over. Look at your hands, see the resin. Her sweat lingers on your skin. See how it sticks to the swirls of your fingerprints. You try to rub it off on your corduroy pants. You can’t.
  5. Dig in your thumbs and tear her in half. Then into quarters. Stroke along the smooth slivers of her insides. Feel the delicate membranes, how much they’re like eyelids. Set down the pieces on your dining room table. Arrange them so that only the tips are touching. Watch how she becomes a flower. Smile. It’s all for you.
  6. Bite along the edge of a slice. Peel back her thin skin. She’s so vulnerable like this, isn’t she? You whisper that you’ll be careful. That she has no reason to worry. You look at her. Stripped, naked, is she shaking? See the way her vesicles gleam like oil on pavement: winking at you, inviting you. Notice how much they look like muscle. Know that it’s not that much different than muscle.
  7. Devour her. Feel her dissolve in your mouth until she is no longer Her, but rather an extension of You. Lick your lips. Feel her travel down your throat, your esophagus. Notice how she sits low in your stomach. You reach to clean up the pile of rind, but decide against it. Leave her to rot instead.



Callan Foster received her BA in Creative Writing from Western Washington University in the spring of 2019. She currently works as a high school librarian, and is passionate about queer lit, education, and the color orange. She lives on an island near Seattle with her cat, Ralph.