I check for bruises. I run my fingers over the flesh, feeling for softness, for weight, for weakness, for resistance. I look for the place that gives under the gentle pressure; I watch for the telltale yellowing or brown. But my mind is on other things. The exploration is more ritual than studied operation; a habit wherein I can lose myself, as I fondle the Fujis and manhandle the Galas.
I discard the sad and the sour, the aged and all those too green, keeping only what will last or reveal itself in perfect time. I act like I know what I’m doing, as if I can do more than hazard a guess at the character inside.
I like the weight of the bag in my hand, and yet I reach for one more. It has a pretty scarlet and lime color, but a little too much give. It is probably too soft, too done, and even a little too small. I put it back and turn to leave, but as I rest it upon the others, it slips and rolls off, falling with a muted thud on the floor. I pick it up and run my thumb over the new bruise. I reach to put it back on the pile, hesitate, then slip it into my bag.
I pay in cash and carry the bag home. In the kitchen, I place all the apples in a basket, careful to place the last one where it won’t get further bruised. I tell myself I’ll pick that one up first, to eat before it goes to waste. But the truth is, I avoid it until it is the last apple in the basket, too soft and too done to eat anymore. And there is only an echo of regret by the time I finally throw it away.
This free write was done in response to the prompt “Write about picking fruit” from Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book of Days.
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