The Mysterious Pumpkin

A friend of mine uploaded a picture of a pumpkin on Instagram the day after a raucous Christmas party, one where drink had eroded her memories, especially the bit about how she came to possess this particular pumpkin (pictured). This is my fictional anecdote of the morning after.

The actual pumpkin that greeted Charlie when she woke up the morning after the Christmas party. (photo by @charlienotchaplin)

I woke up and there it was, that oblong fruit with its deceptive curved lines running down its dented orange skin. Is a pumpkin even a fruit, I thought. Or was it a vegetable? Perhaps pumpkins were like tomatoes, doomed to a life pockmarked by existentialist crises.

Last night’s Christmas party clearly had too much alcohol. I only become philosophical after five glasses of wine. If it had been five shots of tequila, the pumpkin would probably have been a man.

I picked up the pumpkin and ran my hands along its surface, trying to figure out how I came to possess this Halloween icon. But my brain, sloshed in stale alcohol, refused to fire its neurons. I had no recollection of the events of last night. So I flopped my head back down onto the pillow while cradling the tiny pumpkin.

That’s when I caught the piece of paper stuck to the bottom of the fruit. Oh hello, I said out loud.

I peeled the note off the pumpkin. Someone had purposefully stuck it there with scotch tape.

Your search has ended.

Right. So the note was written in a hurry, judging by the messy handwriting. I dropped the note onto my bed and rubbed my temples. The alcoholic gnomes were going to town with the jackhammer; the pounding in my brain was beginning to resemble a Hans Zimmer soundtrack.

I grabbed the note again and studied it. It was written in blue ink, scrawled on a fragmented piece of paper torn off a lined notebook. Moleskine by the feel of it. I decided to call the host of the party. She might be able to shed light on this post-Christmas mystery.

Three rings. A groggy voice answered.

“Charlie, it’s 10 in the morning.”

“Thanks for confirming my bedroom clock’s accuracy Lucy.”

A chuckle.

“What’s up Charlie? Did you leave something at my place last night?”

“Actually I might have accidentally stolen something. I woke up this morning and there was a pumpkin beside me on the bed. Were you making pumpkin-inspired cocktails at the party last night?”

“Pumpkins?” A pregnant pause. “Halloween’s over Charlie. Why would I have pumpkins?”

I glanced at the fruit. Pumpkins were certainly not Lucy’s area of interest. She was a bartender with a penchant for hard liquor and soft ice cream, not random fruits.

“It’s all right. Thanks Lucy.”

“No problem.” Click.

I thought Lucy might have had the answer to the origins of the pumpkin and the owner of the note but my conversation with her only deepened the mystery. Who wrote this note? And what search was this person referring to?

My mobile phone suddenly started ringing again, snapping me out of my reverie. It was Lucy.

“Yes Lucy? Are you butt dialling me in your sleep?”

“Very funny Charlie. Listen, the pumpkin you’re asking me about. Did you get it from my party last night?”

“I…,” I stopped. Lucy’s sudden interest in my fruity companion was suspicious. Or perhaps the mysterious note had made me wary of the people from last night’s Christmas party. “I’m not sure,” I finally replied.

I could hear Lucy’s heavy breathing over the phone. Moments passed, as the both of us stayed silent. Finally Lucy spoke. “I’ve been your friend for a long time Charlie. Remember that.” With that tone of finality, Lucy put down the phone.

My room, despite its cavernous size, was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Hans Zimmer was having a grand time in my mind and I could not turn him off. I needed a drink, if only to drown the orchestra and make it easier to think. I rolled off the bed, put on my bedroom slippers and headed out my bedroom. The kitchen was on the ground floor, where salvation and hopefully, memory recall could be found in a cold beer.

I headed down the stairs, the pumpkin in my left hand while my right held on to the bannister with each step I took. I turned the corner at the foot of the stairs and an incredible sight greeted my eyes. My carpeted living room was filled with rows and rows of pumpkins. They were on the couches. They were on the tables. They were even balancing precariously on the standing lamp I had bought from a flea market a few weeks ago.

And in the middle of the orangey chaos sat a man I did not recognise.

“Charlie! You’re finally awake!” the male stranger exclaimed and approached me. The look of confusion in my eyes stopped him in his tracks. He frowned, then looked down at the miniature pumpkin I was still holding in my hand.

His mouth dropped in shock.

He whispered, “Charlie, you’ve found the Great Pumpkin.”

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