Icy water bites my hand as I pluck an apple from the kitchen sink. The fruit is bruised, so my thumb pushes in through its skin. A soggy, brown mess; I use my knife to clean it the best I can, and, with what’s left, I make perfect squares, arranging them on a dish.
The silence in the room is pierced by the sound of my daughter, who starts crying upstairs. When I reach for her, the smell of blossoms spills off my clothing soothing her back to sleep. Returning to the kitchen, I see my fruit has browned, so I slip an apple slice into my mouth. Its sweetness reassures me.
Warm memories poke at my skin, and I think of my grandmother with her small, perfectly manicured hands. Her knuckles thick from arthritis. She used to take my hands in hers, and show me how to hold a knife properly, “do it this way,” she guided me. I was scared to peel an apple her way, pulling the blade of the knife towards myself when my instincts told me not too. “You’ll save more of the fruit this way,” she promised.
I visit her after work on Tuesdays. Her face looks too thin under these fluorescent lights. She stares out the window. Her reflection, a portrait.
A blanket at her shoulders falls to the floor, and I carefully place it back around her arms. She doesn’t notice, or if she does, she says nothing. Patting her hand, I ask, “Are you feeling up for some dessert?” She turns to eye the stranger in the room, and then back to her window.
My jacket feels like lead as I wrench it onto my shoulders. A slice of pie on a paper plate remains untouched. I pull my grandmother towards me, giving her a hug that pains us both. The smell of blossoms lingers on my collar.
She breaths easier when stillness comes back into her room. “My granddaughter is coming to see me soon, you know,” she tells the old woman watching her through the window.