DRACONIC by Baishampayan Seal

“Why do you think this is called dragon fruit, dad?” says Rachel, swaying the pink fruit that looks a bit like green artichoke.

Dave turns his eyes on the four-year-old. To him, it feels pretty frustrating to favour Rachel’s curiosity while stuck in listing out the agendas for tomorrow’s office meeting. When Sandra left their marriage, she refused Rachel’s custody; and now, after two years, Dave clearly sees why that was a smart move on her side. 

Vile land whale!

“Umm... its bracts remind me of dragons’ whiskers—the Chinese ones. Maybe that’s your answer?” Dave pushes the pitaya far from his face. “It’s a busy night, dearie. Anything else you need to ask—later, okay?”

No, that’s not okay for Rachel. She sways the pitaya right before his eyes once again.

Again, Dave strains to escape its sight. And this time, the fruit conjures up Sandra’s smirking obese face in his mind. 

Both are ugly lard-asses!

Dave’s patience shatters like a shotgunned windowpane.

“Get rid of this ugly thing already!” he yells. When anger begins to sear his every cell like a lit cigarette, he snatches the fruit from Rachel’s hold, and pitches it toward the far edge of his work desk. “Fat piece of shit!”

A brief moment of silence engulfs the whole room...

Suddenly, the pitaya starts rolling on its own; and it rolls back to Dave. 

By the time Dave is sure it’s not unreal, he is half-consumed by the fire breathed out by the fruit’s flower end pit. 

Rachel feels as if her lips have been sewn shut. Many of her father’s behaviours have certainly appalled her before, but his charred corpse is way more appalling than all those behaviours combined at their worst. 

Numb with shock, she hears the raspy voice: “Call fat folks ugly one more time—I dare you, cocksucker!”

Rachel flops down on the floor, gaping at the owner of the voice. The vengeful pitaya.

“And dearie... hope now you have your answer,” the fruit breaks into an inhuman laugh, then slowly goes quiet.

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