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by B F Jones

“A single ripe strawberry on a white paper plate.”

Langdon holds the guard’s gaze as he dictates the order. The guard eventually looks away and walks off, shaking his head. He’s heard it all. Pitted olive, four gallons of ice cream, French fries, cigarettes. Some of them go cuckoo when their time comes. Nothing surprises him anymore.

“What’s with the strawberry?” Pearce enquires. “You know you could ask for whatever you wanted. I hear Jonson asked for lobster.”

“Fuck off, Pearce.”

Langdon sits back on the bed, the roughness of the yellowing sheets under his palms. He looks at his hands. He can still feel the softness of the skin, the delicacy of that neck under his fingers; remembers how his veins had bulged under the effort and how her eyes had turned, suddenly sprinkled red.

“I asked for ribs, a couple of pounds of ’em. It makes me look forward to the day more.” Pearce’s braggart voice is tainted with fear. His day is coming soon.

Langdon ignores his cell mate, choosing to lie on the hard bed and wait it out, as there’s nothing else to do now. In a few days he’ll eat his last strawberry and then he’ll be gone.

His eyes closed, he remembers.

Long warm afternoons, soft cut grass, toes in the ice-cold lake, and the kisses.

Kisses from the warm breeze, from the sweet fruits, and from her.

Sweet lips and soft hair, after she was his and before she was no-one’s.

After she’d smiled and before she’d screamed.

And that single ripe strawberry left on the white paper plate.

B F Jones lives in Surrey with her husband and three children. She works as a digital consultant and has stories in The Cabinet of Heed, Bending Genres, Train Lit Mag, Idle Ink, Storgy and Soft Cartel.