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"The Fruit I Gave Away" by Margo Griffin

We arrive at 9AM, and it’s already a sticky, sweltering summer morning. The cars are lining up as visitors come early to pick their berries, avoiding the height of the sun. This year, the blueberries are plump and ample, pleasing the folks who come here for their fill.

Mothers, fathers, and children make their way through the narrow dirt rows, and babies are lulled to sleep by the subtle rocking of their strollers rolling along over the uneven dirt below. We see grandparents, too, wiping off their sweaty brows, wrangling their grandchildren, keeping them on task.

This time, we come to pick berries for my mother’s blueberry pie, but really, we are here for the large old weeping willow tree on the far edge of the field. He brought me here a few weeks ago, picking our first berries of the season, later enjoying another sort of sweetness high up in the tree.

He keeps pulling at me, desperate to get through the field to reach our tree, until I finally pull back and say, “Stop!”.

“Let’s first pick some berries for our feast, just like last time,” I say

“Oh, come on, before it gets too hot,” he says, pleading.

“But what would my mother say if I come home without berries?” I innocently ask.

He rolls his eyes and lets out an exaggerated sigh. But moments later, we are stooped down collecting berries for my pail, the same pail I used before. Soon berries are falling out and over the top. And so, he leans in and whispers, “Are you about done?”. I smile, nodding my head, and we begin a walk that is more like a dance toward our private leafy destination.

He looks over his shoulder, checking three, maybe four times, until he is sure no one is watching. He pushes on my bottom as he lifts me up to the tree’s first landing, and then I pull him up to meet me. We climb up two landings more until we are surrounded and hidden by the thick green feathery canopy hanging all around the willow tree.

I reach into the pail for a taste of berry, recreating what now feels like a dream, but he reaches in for a different flavor, in a different place.

“Hey, what’s the rush?” I complain, pulling his hand away.

“I thought we were here for the forbidden fruit?” he says with a wink.

“But that’s not how I remember it,” I say.

I remember a sweet yet tart and juicy burst in my mouth that started with berries and later filled with his lips and tongue. I remember we ate half a pailful before I blossomed, his fingers still purple when he pulled them out, ready to harvest my innocence. But this time, his mouth is dry and his fingers pale, rushing in to take what is already his; the forbidden fruit I gave away.

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