Isn’t every fruit soft, if you wait? In small bodies the time is softly passing. Peach had a twilight air. It wore a yellow curling-up sticker that read ‘gog de magog’ in black print (something from The Bible I think) with a picture of a purple desert tree and ‘the fruit of paradise’ in tiny print across the top and ‘paradiesisches obst’ along the bottom.
I removed sticker, took stock of peach. Certain flat areas suggested softness, as if it could simply no longer support the weight of its own body. It had filled with a great volume of juice, which had broken down the texture of the flesh. Peach displaying telltale dusky hue, clad in fuzz with a hectic sheen. It looked more prominent. It looked as prominent as it could possibly look, though there were faint wrinkles forming above its knees. They just made me fonder of it. Dear patientest peach. Of course I was going to eat it. It would be greatly disappointing to the peach to be thrown away now. There was a lot of juice. I stood over the sink and let it fall in.
You must understand that if a woman is in a room alone with her soft fruit for several days it’s the closest thing to a friend she has. Condition of cherished peach the only instructive variable. I tried to drive into a new town yesterday. I drove through a chain of coastal resorts, turned into a car park at the one with famous cliffs which I’d taken a fancy to seeing and drove right out the other side. I kept on driving down the coast and turned in at the nearest beach to my flat which is very low key. One snack hut, one toilet block. I went down to that beach and I walked to the end of it to where the marshes start. I lay down on the beach facing the earth. I could no longer support the weight of my body. The sand was so soft and walking in a near-featureless place had filled me with a great volume of juice. I let it run out onto my cheeks, down to the sand where it joined the water under the surface pressing up into the air.
‘You must understand that if a woman is in a room alone with her soft fruit for several days it’s the closest thing to a friend she has’
That was yesterday. Today I went running on the marshes but I went too far. Can’t tell how far you’re going on the salt flats where scant landmarks slip from the horizon without fanfare. One minute you’re taking a picture of a perfectly enormous windmill with your phone, the next you turn around and realise you can’t see it anymore. It was a loop on the map but I couldn’t close it. When I found a paved road I recognised the gas station two towns down the coast. I had to jog then walk all the way back across unknown acres of marshes. The wind raised itself then, picked up and started doing things. I ran as long as I could.
At one point I thought I might not arrive. I thought I had gone such a great distance into the idea of marshes that the act of walking had ceased to produce the desired effect, like when you repeat a name until the fuzzy skin of its meaning peels right off. So far, in the sun. So far in the wind which moved across the expanse of long grasses in patterns that began to seem meaningful. I was starting to feel very soft indeed and the wind – the wind was developing a consciousness. That was a bad time. Now I am back in the flat. My cheeks are tight and I have blisters on my big toes and worst of all I have eaten my only friend.
Kate Feld writes essays, poetry, short fiction and work that sits between forms. Her writing has appeared in journals and anthologies including Hotel, The Stinging Fly, minor literature[s], Neon, Banshee, Entropy and The Lonely Crowd. She runs creative non-fiction journal and reading series, The Real Story (therealstory.org), and lectures in Journalism at Salford University. She is a native of Vermont, now living in Manchester, UK. The photo featured above is also Kate’s.