Technically everything produced from a flower is a fruit. Does that make her a mango? It would make sense if she were a drupe. He had given her flowers on their first date. Her face had felt accosted by the perfumy pungency.
“I’m a statistician”, he’d said “but not the boring kind.”
She hadn’t asked the question that this statement birthed into existence. Instead, she’d rolled it into her cheek, letting its entrails seep out when she simpered. Her hopes didn’t soar too high that night. In fact, they plateaued midway through the date like a kite hoisted into an unwilling breeze.
However, her peregrinations had taught her not to dismiss too easily, something in her wanted to give him a chance. He’d impressed her when she visited his classroom, his final words to his students “What have you learned from me?” were flush with her understanding of what she needed a man to be. Still, even now, there is a closeness in their distance. It is as if she is sitting next to someone in a church pew.
“It’s beautiful, no?”, she said pointing at her still life of him, craning her neck seductively in that way he used to recognise. He didn’t answer, kissed her absent-mindedly and left their showhouse. He was always out.
In her work she had always been the foe of mediocrity. Her love life was a different affair. A dollop of affection accepted as better than nothing, she married a man with a miser’s heart. She failed to stain his life with hers. To him, her power was as harmless as a water-soluble marker in the hands of a Picasso-inspired toddler.
On a slate-grey Thursday she was waiting “What did I do? What can I do?”
No answer at first. He shook the teardrops from his umbrella and positioned it in its stand. When he did speak his words left no room for negotiation “Do we even know each other anymore?”
Before she could think, the words had left her lips “Did we ever?”
There was a privilege in sharing something, that was their last share.
It’s Friday and a young nurse takes her details. She’s distracted as she scratches a blunt pencil against her clipboard. She doesn’t notice their squirming. Sharon touches her stomach; thinks of her central stone and the seed it cradles. She hopes the seed will never know the grimy imprint of disappointment. A Christmas birth, she’s told him his presence isn’t mandatory. She will tell the seed how her cupped hands became a canopy waiting for a fallen infructescence, the fruiting head of some possibility of anything. There will be honesty, the seed will know that she held her hands there for as long as she could, until the aridity of his remaining affection chafed her palms. But not now because a sonographer is calling her name and she is no longer scared to be somebody, somebody who finally knows how to be known and who by.
Catherine O’Brien is an Irish writer of poems, flash fiction and short stories. She writes bi-lingually in English and Irish. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Gone Lawn, Mystery Tribune, Comhar, Books Ireland, Flyover Country Magazine, Splonk, Flash Boulevard, Tether’s End Magazine, Indelible Literary Journal, Tír na nÓg, Janus Literary, Selcouth Station Press & more. You can find her on Twitter @abairrud2021.