“You eat?” Carmel’s landlady was standing on her doorstep with two pieces of fruit unlike any she had ever seen before.
“What is it?” Carmel asked speaking slowly and clearly.
“You eat?” Evie repeated with a smile.
“Yes.” Carmel took the fruit. “Thank you.”
That night Sean said she should throw them away.
“You don’t know kind of shit that is.”
Carmel kept them. They looked like quinces, but were the same shade of red as a pomegranate. The next day while Sean was at work, she sliced one open and ate a bit. It crunched when she bit into it, the taste both bland and tart at the same time. Popping candy without the artificial strawberry flavour. Her mouth felt dry after eating it. She left it on the kitchen table and threw it away when it started to weep.
The second piece of fruit remained on the windowsill for a few days until Sean complained again. Carmel put it into the corner cupboard next to the sink. He never looked in there. It was the cupboard that housed the strays. The cut glass shot glass she had lifted from her neighbour’s house when she was babysitting as a teenager. The last cup in a set of six they received when they got married. The one-of-a-kind wineglass that came in a gift set with a bottle of wine. It was given to Carmel when she stopped working. The silver knife with a bone handle that she had found at an estate sale; afterwards, Sean decided they only needed one car. The Bunnikins set her godmother gave her before Sean told her children weren’t really for him.
She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t throw it away. Perhaps because it was given with a happy heart? Perhaps because it is a sin to waste food, even odd food? Perhaps because she was defying Sean?
A month later Carmel opened the orphan cupboard looking for a missing gravy boat and found something extraordinary. Her old china was interwoven with green. A stem and several shoots had grown from the fruit and twisted their way through the cupboard. Two cheerful green leaves thrived at the base of the stem. The fruit itself was shrivelled and withered, probably the only source of nutrition for the plant in the darkness.
She reached out to touch it. A tendril coiled itself around her finger — the slight pressure comforting like the grip of a newborn baby. She gently untangled the plant from her crockery, picked it up and held it to her chest. It nestled closer. Carmel breathed in its mossy green smell, before going to the garage for her gardening tools.
Laura Alexandra Hunter indulges in creative pursuits. She occasionally tweets using the handle @LauraLxH.