This piece of flash fiction titled "Figs" was originally published in "The Smoking Poet" in the winter edition 2009. Still one of my favorites.
Welcome to my world.
By Lis Anna
“Cotton,” my grandmother yelled from the back porch. “Where are you, child?”
The back steps were rotting so she wouldn’t dare come looking for me. For awhile I’d pretend not to hear, but eventually I’d be forced to cross that great expanse of backyard from past to present. The family dog, Oswald, named after Lee Harvey, was always waiting on me. A neighborhood cat had kittens in the old washing machine in the basement. Now she’d moved them under the porch. They were feral. “Just like you,” my Grandmother said.
She had just bought a glass table that had fallen off the back of a truck. Everything in the house was stolen, including the medication. Uncle Stan was at the table eating Thorazine, green beans and fried chicken. I looked down at my drummie on the plate.
“What’s wrong?” Granny asked, mashing potatoes.
“She’s been back there eatin’ them figs all day, Mother.” Stan said, smothering everything on his plate, swimming in gravy.
“Have to. I seen you.”
“Well, that’s okay,” Granny said. “Adam and Eve ate figs.”
“Shoulda eaten snake,” Stan said, pleased with himself.
That evening I climbed up on the old porcelain sink in the bathroom and stared down at the tree. It was as old as the Bible. It grew in faraway lands. Somehow it had made its way across a vast sea … to our backyard.
“Cotton, how many times have I told you not to climb up on that sink? It’s going to come loose from the wall.”
I shimmied down the porcelain with a frown.
“What is it with you and that tree?”
“Where did it come from?”
“It was here when we moved in. A long time before you were born.”
I was sure the tree had been taken from the Garden of Eden by a travelling salesman who rode on a magic carpet.
I stole the key to the old carriage house to look for clues. There was nothing out there except for dust, nails and a musty smell. I locked the padlock, put the key in my pocket and climbed the tree.
A bright blue calm day in the Empire. I picked honeysuckle flowers just to taste that one drop of sweetness on my tongue. Then I ate a fig, sweet, tasty with its colorful inside and seeds. Twilight was upon me. The locusts began to sing that rhythmic song and the crickets chirped. I felt so high in the air, lingering next to the clouds.
Tomorrow it would rain and the ditch would swell like the Nile. I knew. I’d seen it before.
Copyright 2009 Lis Anna
All Rights Reserved
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