They say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. So when life literally started giving me lemons, that's what I did.
I remember the morning it all started: April 10, 2015. A shitty Friday at the end of a shitty week. I couldn't even be grateful for the weekend, because as of Wednesday I no longer had a job to have the weekend off from, and I couldn't use my free time to work on my novel because as of Thursday my computer was deceased and my latest draft now lost. So when I got out of bed that morning only to trip and fall over something round and squishy on the floor, I figured my streak of bad luck had continued.
I wanted to hurl the stupid lemon at the wall, but did a double take when I realized that the object was, in fact, a lemon. And it wasn't just one; there were three lemons in all on the floor next to my bed. The Fuck? Where did these come from? I wondered, and though part of my mind wanted very much to be freaked out, another part was so far down the depression well that this strange occurrence was the only thing that had aroused my interest in the past three days. Half-dazed, I wandered into the kitchen and found myself cutting one of the lemons in half. I shook my head. What the hell am I doing? I was about to toss them all in the garbage when something in the middle of one of the lemon halves caught my eye. It was a small, soggy, strip of paper, like the fortune out of a fortune cookie, which read: "Life gives you lemons. Make lemonade."
Well, this totally isn't creepy and weird at all, I mused. But with no job and no laptop, it seemed like life had handed me more metaphorical lemons than I could handle. And now someone or something was telling me to make literal lemonade. What did I have to lose? So make lemonade I did. The three lemons were enough for a small pitcher, and I poured a glass before putting the rest in the fridge. The first sip was horribly bitter, like nothing I had ever tasted before. But something compelled me to keep drinking, and by time I had finished the glass I was thirsty for more. Surely no lemonade I had ever tasted had been as delicious as this!
By the end of the day I had finished the pitcher, and with each drink everything seemed to get a little bit better. The sun seemed to shine brighter, my apartment seemed to smell better, there was an extra spring in my step. When I went to bed that night, I was amazed to realize that my whole perspective had changed since that morning. I slept soundly knowing that somehow, things would be ok.
The next morning, the lemons were there again, arranged neatly at the foot of my bed. Humming to myself as I once again went about making lemonade, I found another fortune in one of the fruits: "Drink up and check your laptop. Enjoy." I'm sure any other person of sound mind would have thought twice before taking the advice of some mysterious lemon-fairy, but I did as instructed. Miracle of miracles, my computer was working again, and none of my story had been lost. I nearly wept for joy. I devoted the rest of the day to editing my second draft, pausing only at lunchtime to send out some resumes and drink another rejuvenating glass of lemonade. By eight o'clock I'd made wonderful progress, and was feeling pretty content when a friend called to ask how I was holding up. She seemed surprised when I told her how great I was feeling. I was tempted to tell her about the lemons, but hesitated. Would anyone believe me? Oh well, it didn't matter as long as I was happy, right? Besides, they were my lemons, and considering my recent state of affairs a little selfishness felt justified. I opted for lemonade instead of wine with my Netflix and passed a pleasant evening in that manner before going to bed.
And so a pattern developed. Each morning the lemons would be there, one of them containing a fortune with words of encouragement and a reminder to drink my lemonade. Each day was an improvement upon the last. I cleaned up my apartment. Story ideas flowed faster than I could type them. My job search payed off and I got called in for several interviews. Battlestar Galactica magically reappeared on Netflix. Even my asshole ex-boyfriend called to beg for my forgiveness, and was very sweet to me. All seemed right with the world, and for the first time in a long time, I felt truly happy. I considered briefly that maybe I was being slowly poisoned by the mysterious lemons, but frankly I was too euphoric to care for long. If I was dying, then at least it would be a cheerful, sunny death.
It wasn't until a week and a half after the lemons had first appeared that I started to notice other changes. Everything I ate started to taste like lemons. It started out as a subtle hint, but soon the flavor was so overwhelming that I constantly felt the need to brush my teeth. Pretty soon everything smelled like lemons, too. I was still walking around in a haze of happiness, though, so at first I didn't let the haze of lemon Pledge-scent bother me too much. It wasn't until the morning of April 24, precisely two weeks from the day this had all begun, that I felt the first twinge of worry.
It was that morning that I awoke to yellow skin. Forgetting all about the lemons for the first time in two weeks, I ran to the bathroom to examine myself. It was only the faintest hint of yellow, but still noticeable. Was I jaundiced? I'd never known anyone personally who'd had jaundice, so I had no idea what else to expect besides yellowish skin. I felt fine, though, in fact much better than fine. Over the past week I had noticed that I seemed to be suddenly much stronger, accidentally breaking and tearing things at the slightest touch. My senses seemed to be sharper, too, with the obvious exception of taste and smell. Well, if yellow skin is the trade-off for having superpowers, that doesn't seem like such a raw deal, I conceded. Maybe it was cause for concern, but then again maybe it wasn't. I was starting to feel a little ansty without my morning lemonade, though.
In two days my skin went from a pale yellow to a bright lemon hue that almost seemed to glow. My hair appeared to be turning green at the roots, too. By April 29 I really was glowing and my hair was pure green. Whenever I sneezed, lemon-scented glitter sprayed from my nose. My palms had taken on the texture of a lemon rind, and when I made a fist my hand became coated in that same tough citrus skin. It seemed to be some form of protection. I suspected that if I were to cut myself I would bleed lemon juice, though of course I never tested that theory. It probably should have concerned me more that I appeared to be turning into a giant lemon in the same way that Violet had turned into a giant blueberry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but as long as I had my lemonade everything was copacetic. That's not to say I wasn't worried at all, but the lemonade calmed me down. I was ok with being kept at home by my strange appearance as long as I could keep drinking my lemonade.
On May 1, the lemons stopped appearing. I cycled through every emotion and every stage of grief before panic started to set it. I was burning, I was freezing, I wanted to vomit and my head felt like it had cracked open. Was it withdrawal? Was it poison? Was it a psychotic break? Or was I undergoing some final stage of metamorphosis? I crawled into bed and buried myself in blankets, hoping to sweat away the sickness. At some unknown point I became wrapped up in them like a cocoon, frozen in a fetal position in a state of quasi-hibernation. Days, weeks, I don't know how long I stayed like that, but when I emerged once again it was as if I had been reborn.
A single lemon lay at the foot of my bed. Had I not been so dehydrated my mouth would have been watering like crazy. I raced with the fruit to the kitchen, barely noticing in the mirror on my way out of my room that I apparently now had wings. I would examine them more closely later; right now I had to make lemonade.
I wonder what my fortune will be today. My hands shook, but the knife sliced easily through the juicy flesh. Suddenly I was propelled backwards into the kitchen table as a blinding beam of light emanated from the cut in the lemon. The fruit exploded in a cloud of the same lemon-scented fairy dust that I had been sneezing out previously. When the smoke cleared, I saw that there in my kitchen stood the four most bizarre humanoids I had ever seen. All were young women, presumably about my age, though whether or not they were actually human was difficult to determine. The one who appeared to be the leader had bright pink skin, was armed with a katana, and wore the most audacious costume consisting of a mini-dress and tiara adorned with bedazzled strawberry motifs. Behind her stood her three candy-colored companions representing orange, grape, and green apple, each wielding a pole-arm, twin scimitars, and dainty miniature crossbows, respectively.
Obviously, I stared. "Um... the fuck?"
Green Apple squealed with delight. I had barely risen from the floor when Strawberry attacked me with a rib-crunching hug. "Oh girls, how exciting!" she cried. "Come say hello to our new sister-in-arms!"
And that, dear readers, is the story of how I became the heroine of a magical girl anime.