First came the propeller, smashing through her awning. It squashed the zucchini, severed tomatoes from their vines. She freed the chunk of wood and aluminum from her freshly tilled soil, refashioned it into an enormous lazy Susan that spun across her lawn, its slowly rotating blades serving up heaping vats of fresh ceviche, corn salsa, and pico de gallo to anyone who might come by.
She used the knife she’d stolen from an Airbnb to chop what remained of her tomatoes. God, she loved that knife. The way it sliced through fibrous fish skins, hard-shelled acorn squash, heirloom tomatoes, all with equal ease. Her daughter had often tssked-tssked her for licking the peanut butter from knives after quartering her toast. “You’re going to slice your tongue,” she’d say, with that voice. That voice! Back then, their top drawer had been filled only with blunt butter knives, nothing as sharp as this. Back then, her daughter swallowed toast as if it hurt. Back then, loss was a concept she’d held at arm’s length.
Next, a chunk of wing sliced straight through her strawberries. With some sanding, she transformed it into an oblong patio table, long enough to invite the whole neighborhood, if they ate in shifts. She strung it with twinkly white lights and whipped up tarts and zucchini bread loaves, trays of jiggly corn pudding.
Her daughter had refused almost everything—the paper-thin slices of apple, crisp stalks of celery. One day, so weak she swayed, she submitted to the smallest bite of boxed mac and cheese, having always preferred powdered to actual cheese. Her mom rushed to the store that same day to stock up on Annie’s Peace Pasta & Parmesan, filled shelves with the peace sign-shaped noodles, the shape of hope.
The seats fell in heavy pairs next, demolishing her radishes, which were no one’s favorite. She heaved them with a strength she forgot she had, arranged them in a crescent shape around the raised carrot bed.
Guests could come, if they pleased, recline a half inch, sip drinks from the tray tables tucked into their padded metal armrests, watch deer chew on her dandelion greens in the morning, the rabbits steal her turnips in the afternoon, none of them noticing the loving care she’d devoted to each vegetable.
In the end, her daughter stopped eating completely. Whether she couldn’t or wouldn’t was unclear. She simply refused every desperate offering her mother made. She would have licked that knife clean for her daughter, sliced and served her own flesh if that’s what it took. She would have done anything, like most mothers.
The turbine engine was last to fall, and it was harder to repurpose than the plane’s other parts. It was an ugly, dirty thing that made you think only of what it once was, how badly it had failed at its only job. It took out her roof, landing on her couch like an unwelcome guest, another unwilling mouth to feed.
Kelle Schillaci Clarke is a Seattle-based fiction and creative nonfiction writer with deep L.A. roots. Her recent work has appeared in Superstition Review, Blood Orange Review, Barren Magazine, Pidgeonholes, and Lunate. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, but left the desert in favor of the rainy Pacific Northwest, where she can be found tweeting @kelle224.