You should know the peaches are rotting in a paper bag on the counter. Their funk now aphrodisiac for the fruit flies that queue on the screen, females agitated and anxious as they wait for the moldy juice to seep through and make a hole so they can lay their eggs. You’ll smell them when you collect your things, hear the wet larval pulse. That day you brought them home with a cabbage and two pounds of broad beans, you proudly lined them up in two blushing rows of eight, asking would the pie be done for dessert. They weren’t ripe and you bought the wrong kind so I told you to leave. So hard for you, isn’t it, to get even one thing right. To ask the sunbleached farmer which ones? The difference is heavy. Clings. Weighs me down more than the forgotten birthdays and flimsy gifts and your crisscross trails of dirty dishes sour socks unhung pictures broken vows. Twelve days ago I was going to make your favorite pie, maybe set the smallest peach aside to savor over the kitchen sink littered with fuzzy peels and brown bruises before weaving the buttery lattice (never lard—go to your mother’s house for that; you’ll have time for that now). Bite into sunset colored flesh and let the summersweet juice drip from my chin. Let the pit fall free into my hand, clean and woody, nothing to be sucked dry, reminding me of the day we kissed behind a knotted tree in the orchard’s last row, the day you promised me everything.
Kristen M. Ploetz is a writer and former land use attorney living in Massachusetts. Her work has been published (or is forthcoming) with Random Sample Review, Atlas & Alice, Hypertext Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Harpoon Review, Crack the Spine, (b)OINK, The Hopper, Gravel, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a YA novel and a collection of CNF/short stories. You can find her on the web (www.kristenploetz.com) and Twitter (@KristenPloetz).