Peer Review by KaitlynRose (Canada)

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Bitter Melons Have Cherries

By: Harzi


Harvest time. 
      Of all the vegetables Mama cultivated in our garden, one medium-size bitter melon was left unharvested. I don’t know why; all the others were gathered. And it just hung in its vine – alone, untouched and disregarded – for approximately one and a half week. Then I decided to pick it out and put it in a fruit basket, but I think it was still as lonely if not more so. And I forgot about it again.
      One day, my brother noticed its wrinkly surface transforming into a bright shade of yellow, almost like a ripe mango’s. Of course, it’s obviously ripening, I told him. In only a matter of hours after that encounter, the bitter melon’s head started to open up like a flower budding. I was initially perplexed, and so I asked my brother if he, in any way, touched the vegetable, but he refuted.
      Thus, we suspected that it was a bitter melon’s natural phenomena, an inevitable reaction to its ripening existence. I marked the areas where the fissures had started and down to where it may possibly reach if it were to resume its revolt. Proven enough, by nightfall, the fissures exceeded all the insignias. The crevices have become giant slits sprinting halfway along the now yolk-colored vegetable’s body. Its thick, ripply skin has divided into three archs bending outwards. It was akin to a peeled banana and a blossoming frangipani, except that inside its half-hollowed vessel, there is an array of red, velvety nubbins. Bitter melon cherries, I called them. The cherries were not the seeds, but rather the soft membrane enclosing it. Their bloody color shouts amid the brightness of their own casket, and it was beautiful.
      I used to pity bitter melons, since it was one of those vegetables that most people would have eliminated from their meals if it were not for its extensive health benefits. It isn’t the fanciest; it isn’t the prettiest; it isn’t the most ambrosial or palatable. But marveling at this metamorphosis, I realized that I shouldn’t douse this vegetable with any remorse or pity. It may not be the most divine and dulcet for the societal taste buds. It may not be the most conspicuous in the garden, but in its own time and pace, in its own environment, it would be able to uncloak itself from all the bitter facade. Just as I had witnessed. It is not the type of aging that rots, because it would only ripen, and ripen more – even when no one seems to care. Until it would burst with the finest cherries from the depths of its soul.
      And so would I.


Peer Review

In the area that I grew up, this fruit isn't one that you can find, but your descriptions painted such a clear picture in my head that I had no need to look it up. You could consider adding a location/country to your descriptions of the harvest if you wanted to give more context to the piece, but I'm sure it would be equally personal and heartfelt without - while many people in the past have connected with nature, this comparison was especially unique and had a great story alongside it.
I enjoyed the family connections mentioned in the piece, having your Mama and your brother (or any people who are close to you) as part of the narrative is an integral part of defining who YOU are (people are often shaped by those around them)


Some advice that I take from many other writers is to be intentional in everything that you include within a story: "Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character or advance the action" Kurt Vonnegut and "A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” Edgar Allen Poe. You have found a unique item in nature to relate yourself to, and have endless amounts of beautiful imagery that draw a reader in - technical decisions are often as important as creative ones so just something to keep in mind as you write.


Reviewer Comments

Hello Harzi, from a Senior Peer Reviewer!
I can tell from this piece that you are a natural storyteller: throughout the piece, I could sense mystery and read each line carefully trying to figure out what would happen. The title stood out, I felt the need to know what was meant by melons having cherries.
I would encourage you to keep using short and long sentences, as well as one-line paragraphs or separating dialogue to keep reader's attentive, you've done this really well already in a couple of places already.
I am fond of the way you introduced the melon before yourself or making any connections to yourself, the piece becomes more focused on yourself as I read on (and when re-read, I discover more things that can be compared to a person), readers begin to realize that it's not just about a fruit.
Great response to the prompt, happy writing!