Truth in Bitterness— A Small Look at Addiction

Josselyn Ortiz

The perfect slice of orange is an unremarkable piece. It has juicy individual droplets, yet, at a glance, the whole looks fruitless and dry. This is how I know that this orange is in rehab. A piece of translucent skin is ripped and torn in decision-making. Therefore, the orange has no choice but to hide beneath its sweat and tender tears. 


Past the thin layers of fond memories and into the traumatic events, he stares at me in agonizing pain. Unspoken truth lays beneath this insufferable silence--he refuses to talk to anyone. This orange is addicted to the rush of color and taste. Without the color orange, he is all but nameless. He is a stranger in the droplets of sweet bitterness. He knows he possesses such acidity--we all know he gets it from his father orange.



"Without the color orange, he is all but nameless. He is a stranger in the droplets of sweet bitterness."



This orange is in rehab because my grandmother insists he is too vulnerable and incapable of reasoning. Everyone must think he is incompetent, but maybe he has seen more than the rest of us. And, as I sit here, underneath the inviting sun, I can testify that he is small and disappointed. Thirty minutes have passed since my arrival, and yet he still insists that he is fine. 


But can we trust him? 


Can I trust him? 


I see his eagerness as he pleads for me to let him go. We know how bitter it is to see him rot on the kitchen counter, but we must lie to him. We must tell him to be patient and complacent--so as not to make him pound his orange fists on the visitor’s table. And I can see the misty truth hideously splatter all over our shared silence. My grandmother doesn’t grace him in her prayers anymore because she knows he is in rehab. He has been there three times. 


Esther has yet to visit her son from past experiences, and I am late in peeling this scenario. I was unaware of that one time he spent Christmas with the neighborhood ‘junkies.’ Huddling in the corner of 5th and 6th avenue, I am sure everyone could see a group of cold nobodies. This was not what Esther saw for her little orange--everyone’s little brother. The one who played with car toys and looked up older girls’ skirts even in kindergarten. The one who seemed aloof in his teenage years as if he was sure to be bound to daily mediocrities. Juan is everyone’s little brother. The youngest of eight--how could my grandmother fail to nurture him?