ALL DANGER OF FROST
ALL DANGER OF FROST
She stood in the garden he’d planted, and held them in the air so he could see. She had two braced in her spread fingers, proud as if she’d put the shoots in the ground herself. He waited for her to call them something else. Jewels or rubies or orbs. Something silly and dramatic.
She’d helped herself to them, the same way she’d helped herself to his son. A bent hip, hair spilling forward, a twist of the hand. She twisted them off the vine the very day they were ripe. She had a knack for timing. He watched her put them under her nose and inhale. She’d walk them up to the kitchen and make them unrecognizable under her expensive knives and large grained salts, hand carried on a plane. When she got done with them they’d require special cutlery and candlelight.
He sat where she’d wheeled him, and watched her pick her way through the vines below. The light made him squint, but it was good after all the weeks in that place, working to relocate his words and the use of his left side. The soft old sweatshirt she’d thrown across his shoulders smelled of the garden. Had he worn it the day he put the plants in? It wore on it the moment when all danger of frost was past, the aroma of pitchfork, gloves and watering can hauled from the shed. Who had watered? Was that the last thing he’d done? He couldn’t find the memory of tending them, but here they were, coming up the stairs to the deck.
Her hands were a bowl for them now. She showed him up close and let him smell. She set one on the railing, and raised the other on a pedestal made with the points of her fingers. She held his chin and put the tomato to his lips.
“You get the first one,” she said. “Go ahead.”
He bit, and tasted juice and seeds and flesh. It ran down his chin. She turned it for him so he could get another bite, and another, until it was gone, stem end and all. She wiped the juice off his chin with the cuff of the old sweatshirt.
“I never knew what it took,” she said, palming the other and raising it to a surrendering sun. He watched her press her curled fist into the small of her back. “How’d you used to do all that weeding?”
She rolled her tomato between her palms. Her fingertips were stained green. She took a bite with her eyes closed.
“God, good,” she said, laughing and chewing. “Doesn’t need a thing.”
The juice dribbled, and ran over her hand. She licked the back of her wrist. It made him sweat to find the right word, and offer her the cuff of the sweatshirt with the hand that worked.
"Much of my inspiration lately comes from watching our parents confront the realities of aging. Though they are brave and strong in ways old age can’t touch, they are slowly being forced to relinquish control to others. It seems important to understand and honor their small moments of loss."
Reach this writer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.