Orange in a Mug

Orange in a Mug

“Why is there an orange in the mug?" the young man asked, fumbling in his folder for his essay.

"The orange," she began, swallowing the word as if tasting it whole, "Represents satisfaction."

"I don't get it," he laughed, "It's more than just an orange in a mug?" He looked at her briefly to register her response. It was a condensed smile that he shrivelled under, and he continued to hunt for the elusive essay with slightly reddening ears.

       "The mug is you," she declared, one finger resting lightly on the smooth curve of ceramic.

       "Right," he said, letting out another wry laugh, "I am a mug. I am a drinking vessel. I'm sorry...I still don't follow."

       "Look," she said, and pointed inside. For a moment he stopped rummaging and looked. But no matter how much he squinted, he saw nothing - except the orange.

       "What am I looking for?"

       "Not 'for', but 'at'," she said, and he could hear her smiling. "The orange does not fill the mug."

       It seemed to make some sort of sense, for a tiny flourish of thought before he again reverted back to the missing essay.

       "Basically," he said between the rustlings of his bag, "I can never be satisfied?"

       "So it would seem, because how can a sphere ever fill a cylinder?"

       The rustling stopped. His fingers had found the papers jammed between two of his books, but his attention was caught by something else. He picked up the mug and carried it to the sink where he carefully tipped out the orange and emptied the water. Then he brought the mug back to the lecturer and filled it with the orange juice on her desk.

       "There," he said with an odd sense of pride, "Satisfied."

       The lady smiled at him, uncalculatingly this time.

       "You can be content with life if you choose to be."

       He handed over the essay, his gaze linked to hers for a minute in which he found himself altered, and no longer quite himself. Suddenly...

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