Kill Your Darlings

Entry by: KMaidmarion

15th January 2016
When The Petals Fall

My Grandparents sit in matching arm chairs and smile their lips over flaccid gums. The sun behind them, penetrates the window nets and sparkles light on bullet-silver hair. They each hold a glass bowl on their laps. It brims with red cherries, those I have harvested from our orchard. They such the fruit from the pip and their lips smack, contended.

'Does this count as one of our five a day,' Grandad jokes, as he cajoles a pip with his tongue into arthritic fingers. he loses his grip and the pip falls to the floor, getting lost in the swirls of pattern. I must remember to retrieve it.

'At the rate you're eating those', I say, 'you're going to have that old adage well covered.' I smile, remembering how Granny had shown me how to pick the fruit and prune the many trees whilst our two cats, Jim and Pepper, had weaves slick and silky between our legs. Even now I can still paint those scenes as idyllic.

Granny chokes now, as her gums navigate the fruit and I stand up, lean over her knees and pat her back. It feels stiff and rounded to my palm. In my head I imagine a tree growing inside her belly. It's gnarled branches stunted like those of a Bonsai. Death by Cherry Pip, that's what the headlines would say, and I wonder why I had not thought of that possibility. But then, that would have relied on a freak accident.

'Some things cannot be left to chance,' I mutter as the pip is coughed up and joins the other on the floor. I must remember to retrieve that one too.

'What was that you say,' Granny asks, already replacing the last cherry with another.

'I was just saying what darlings you both are...for giving me a home all these years...After mum... ' My voice trails off as I study their faces. Their wrinkles a road map, give nothing away of the road travelled. Not departure or destination. But then I have taken care of the latter.

They shrug their shoulders in unison as they chase cherry marbles around their own bowl. Synchronised they both pop them onto their quivering tongues. Tongues that have remained silent for decades. This really is a life long dance - one in which they have forgotten their steps but not the routine.

Granny lifts her bowl and spits a pip into it. My stomach recoils as she crams another cherry into her mouth. Grandad's hand stalls mid-flight between bowl and mouth. His head rolls forward. So quick...? so easy...?

'Like a baby he is,' Granny chuckles. 'Feed him and he's snoring z's.'

My heart flinches and I strain my ears and hear nothing. Still I stumble over that word, still I stumble over the past. A past that is foreign to me - a past that is mine but which is not. One I inhabited but was not there.

I trace my scar with fingertips that need no direction. It is buried deep within my hair. and although I bear the scar - the secret has only just been revealed. Had I not been suing my doctor for negligence and ordered my medical records, I might never have known about the baby that I had carried and lost in my coma. A baby who's tiny 16 week old body had been passed on to my grandparents. By the time I came around three years later, the doctors had forgotten to pass on that information. Or trusted that my grandparents to break the news to me gently.

But there was nothing gentle about them and the truth had been buried under the cherry tree. Only now did I understand it's name. For how could they tell me the truth? Not when amnesia had parcelled up the truth in a box marked "father".

I should be please of course. The shock of a baby resulting from their indecent desires must have saved me from yet more abuse. Saved me from more torment at their cruel hands.

Granny's hands are still now. Her jaw loose and the remains of the poison laced cherry sits in the bib of her dress. I'll bury them under that same cherry tree. Three secrets fertilizing the earth with lies.

I will not mourn of course. Only the cherry tree will weep - every spring - when the petals fall.