Irrational Fear of Exploding Goats


You go to the supermarket to get a watermelon, but they are out of seedless watermelons, so you decide, “I’ll just get one with seeds and deal with it.” But this watermelon contains something more than just seeds.


     Virginia grabbed her rear view mirror, angling it so that she could apply a fresh coat of lipstick before entering the grocery store. The motion was nearly second nature, Virginia had mastered the art at a young age after discovering her mother’s out-of-season makeup stash. Pressing her lips against one another, she rubbed them together slightly, spreading the ruby red tint evenly. The last step was her favorite, she lowered her chin and pursed her lips, looking up at the mirror and then presenting a shy grin. Virginia giggled to herself as her reflection conveyed her success.
     Stepping out of her car, she eyed the back of the lot, ensuring that the old, red, Chevy pickup was parked in the usual spot. Reaching down, Virginia shimmied her hips as she pulled her levi mini skirt down to an acceptable public space length. She looked down to make sure she was displaying the correct amount of cleavage, but ended up fastening one more button of her plaid tank-top. There was a fine line between desperation and temptation, and she felt her intuition’s balance never failed her.
     The automatic door squealed open as she approached, in desperate need of oiling maintenance. Aaron’s Market was the only true grocery store in the town of Newton. Residents could make a thirty minute drive to Welling if shopping at a chain outlet was what they desired. But true residents of Newton would never admit to such an action, supporting local was the loud, expected mantra of the town. 

     Virginia waved to the lone clerk as she entered, “Hi, Bev. How’s it going?”
     “Oh hi, Ginny, beautiful day, isn’t it?” Bev smiled warmly.
     Virginia smiled back and grabbed a basket, heading to the produce section. There weren’t many other shoppers, 11 a.m. on a weekday wasn’t exactly prime shopping time. But it wasn’t a fluke that Virginia was here at this specific time, this was a well planned event; this was the precise time period following Farmer Ben’s weekly delivery, and the local, fresh produce was being restocked.
     Virginia’s trim figure conveyed she was a healthy eater, so of course she would be front and center when it came time to purchase the best ingredients possible; and two weeks ago, this assumption would have held true. Her weekly visits had been part of her dedicated health schedule up until that point. But Virginia now had an ulterior motive, and his name was Paul.
     The little that Virginia was able to glean from various social media sites informed her that Paul Ballard liked the outdoors, he had a good relationship with his parents, he was a notorious prankster with his friends, but most importantly, he was single. He had previously been in a long term relationship, but a month ago things had ended, and he was fresh on the market; a pun Virginia secretly found hilarious.
     Paul was tall, lanky, and had sandy blonde hair that he had to constantly brush out of his eyes. Virginia found the motion hypnotic as she stared at him from behind a stand stacked with Idaho Potatoes and Walla Walla Onions. His biceps strained as he lifted boxes from a cart, the shape of his firm muscle pushing against his skin and making a beautiful shape that reminded Virginia of some famous oil painting she sort of half remembered. Paul finished placing one of the boxes and stopped to whip his head to the side, attempting to force his hair out of his eyes. Virginia let out a small sigh of approval.
     As Paul turned his head, he noticed Virginia, to her utter horror. She attempted to avert her eyes but knew it was too late. Grabbing a potato, she smiled and waved with her free hand, “Great taters you have here.”
      Virginia shriveled inside, aghast at her remark. She had imagined their first meeting to be something much more romantic, like dropping something on the floor and bending over to pick it up in his sightline, or bending further over a cart to reach an item than was necessary, hoping he was either directly in front or behind her. Virginia worked hard to keep a nice body, and damn all who would judge her for using it to get a man’s attention.
      Paul grinned at her, and waved back, “Yeah, just got them in this morning.” He reached up to brush his hair back, and then walked over to stand next to Virginia, “Anything I can help you with, miss?”
     Virginia dipped her chin and looked up at him with her shyest smile. Success, she thought. “Why, yes, I would appreciate some help.” She batted her eyelids and then raised her chin to look at him squarely, “I’m thinking of having a dinner party and I’m wondering what produce you might recommend for something this time of year.”
      Paul reached up to stroke his chin and looked around, clearly involved in considering her request. His eyes skimmed the stands of produce, pausing here and there, “Well, I wouldn’t pass up the sweet corn. The zucchinis we got in this morning are huge, they’d be another good choice.” Virginia nodded, watching him intently as he considered her options. “There’s some peaches and strawberries.. oh! And I know just the thing!” Paul nearly hopped as he stepped away from Virginia, she eagerly followed.
      His back was to her, but he turned and offered her a huge, green fruit, “You can’t have a party without this guy. The best looking watermelon I’ve ever seen.”
     Virginia eyed the watermelon wearily. There was something about watermelons that made her uneasy since she was a child, the seeds. She was convinced that her grandma’s goat, Nanny, had died after eating a seed that grew into such a large watermelon that it popped the goat’s stomach. The story may have been concocted by her cousin Danny, but it still didn’t make a difference in Virginia’s belief of it. Virginia always bought seedless watermelons, just to be safe. She pursed her lips before asking, “Is it seedless?”
     “What?” Paul looked appalled. “No, of course not. A watermelon isn’t a watermelon without the seeds! They’re the best part.” He winked as he offered her the melon once more.
     I’ll just deal with the seeds this one time…she thought. Reaching out, she took the melon from Paul, “Thanks, you’re right.” She swayed from one side to the other, considering what she could say next, but Paul saved her the trouble.
     “So, am I invited to this dinner party?” he asked, eyebrow raised questioningly.
     Virginia let out a light laugh and smiled, “Of course!”


     Virginia set the fresh baked loaf of bread on the table and sat down next to Paul. She clapped her hands to get her guest’s attention. “Hey everyone, I just wanted to thank you all for joining me on such a beautiful evening. I’m so glad that I got to cook for ya’ll.” her cousin Danny made grunts of approval and his girlfriend ended them with a sharp elbowing. Virginia turned to look at Paul, “and I just wanted to give a special thank you to my new friend Paul here, he was so helpful at the store yesterday, I just had to invite him to meet everyone.” Paul looked around the table and smiled, nodding to each of the other guests.
     “Everything is lovely, Ginny,” Sasha said as Danny draped an arm around her shoulder in an apologetic gesture.
     “Yeah, cous, delish as usual,” Danny said, licking the fingers of his free hand without regard for manners.
     Paul chimed in, “I couldn’t help but notice the lack of the perfect watermelon I suggested to you yesterday.” He grinned playfully at Virginia.
    “Oh!” Virginia exclaimed, pushing back from the table and rushing into the kitchen. She returned with the watermelon in her arms. Danny cleared a spot for her to set it, Paul stood and took it from her arms, brushing against her in the process and giving Virginia goosebumps. Paul set the watermelon on the cleared spot and grabbed a large knife, he paused and looked at Virginia, “Are you ready for the most delicious watermelon, ever?”
    Virginia chuckled and gave him a strange look, “Um, sure?”
    Paul stuck the knife into the watermelon and began to slide the blade down the center of the rind.
     Virginia’s face twisted in confusion. Paul continued to saw through the melon.
     “Baaa baaa.”
     Paul reached the starting point of his cut and pulled the blade out, setting it on the table top. Red juice spread from the blade and seeped in the white table cloth. Virginia’s brow furrowed in confusion as she looked from the blade to the melon, then to Paul.
     “Okay Virginia, this is just for you…” Paul said as he pulled the melon in half. Virginia was staring at something covered in fur and red juice. Her brain couldn’t comprehend what she was looking at.
     “BAAA!” Danny shouted from behind Virginia, he had snuck up on her as she watched Paul. Virginia shrieked and jumped backwards, hugging herself for comfort.
     Danny burst out laughing, as did Paul. Sasha gave Virginia an apologetic look and rolled her eyes. Danny reached into the melon and pulled out a small, stuffed animal goat. He waved in Virginia’s face as he continued to make baaing noise at her. Virginia swatted at the toy, trying to force Danny away from her. “Ugh. Danny. You’re so immature!”
     Virginia felt a tug on her arm and looked over to see Paul pulling her his direction. He put an arm around her shoulder and poked her cheek with his finger, “Smile, kid. That’s just the first prank of many to come.”
     Virginia let out a light sigh and smiled.


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