Bitter Preserved

I felt as though there were tens of rows of nipples staring out from the shelf by my right ear.

A pattern of shiny lemons with protruding ends, leaves wedged between them.

My grandma brings us lemons every week, sometimes twice. They grow in such abundance on her row of trees during the cold months that the family is provided with far more lemons than they could need for a whole year. A lemony tang pervades the senses so that even food from a restaurant suburbs away is blanketed by a long, resounding bitterness. Grandma keeps none for herself. She says the sight of them springing up beyond her bedroom window each morning is too much as it is. She says the mere sight of them is indecent, the way a protruding nipple forms of the sun-facing curve. Mum cringes. There’s no un-seeing it. When my uncle suggested Grandma prune the trees back to stem the tide, she told him he could do it himself then, could help her out a bit, but he never had a free weekend or a good enough pair of snippers.

Standing behind the checkout counter at work I felt as though there were tens of rows of nipples staring out from the shelf by my right ear, waxed nubs pearling under a low light. Do the customers see that too? A spindly man pottered around the store for five minutes before buying a carrot with a splinter down the middle. He paid 72 cents on card, all for a carrot I’d dropped earlier on the floor. He smiled widely and giggled when I asked if he was after a bag.

“I’ll be right,” he said, and put it upright in his pocket so while he walked home the hairy tip could peek out at the streets and houses passing by.

In a pool of shade under a tree in the park, my friend Sunny munches on a thick, crunchy carrot as he awaits my arrival. He could be perfectly content if I never arrived at all. Hidden in the grass is a patchwork of carrot hairs like pick-up-sticks, peeled and placed by the thumb and forefinger laying by their side. I’ve come on business.

(I’ve brought him some lemons, though they are meant to stay in the family.) I’m trying to cultivate some positivity, even if it’s via disposal. It’s an exchange, a trade. He gets: lemons. I get: loss of lemons. And long-term, positive gain. Otherwise I’ll tear into them with my bare nails and let the prickly juice get into my cuticles.

“Thanks, I’ll give myself icy tips with these.”

Relief, something new. But I should get home as quickly as possible. One by one I toss them to him: “Do you need the bag?”

He says he doesn’t and stuffs them into every pocket he has. Not a speck of yellow on him but bulging at every angle like a spore-riddled leaf.

You may be interested in...
A graphic with the words "Summerfest" above the words "O-week Expo", with the SSAF logo below the wo

Our Summerfest O-Week Schedule!

?? Hello hello! Summerfest is right upon us, and we'll be around for the following events on the following dates this week of February 21st-Read Article

Creative Arts album cover

Welcome to 2022

Hello hello and welcome to 2022! We're excited about the year ahead and what we are all going to create. Please visit our blog to keep up toRead Article