photo of bowl of peaches

Peaches and Crisco by Stacey Spencer

I am cold and naked underneath a heap of lilies. If the sun would expose itself from the shifting, tremulous clouds, my flesh would warm to its touch. Yet I have many fears and questions: Could I handle the nudity of my flesh laid bare after the withering away of my beautiful adornments? Would the vines with which I am tied down to the earth snap?

Inside the house a woman brandishes a feather duster, the top of her head meets the outer edge of the fireplace. I whisper her name and from the clouds falls rain, but not in the form of water. Soil – black, rich, and moist like freshly baked brownies, but with the bitter taste of unwanted earth – falls into my mouth as my lips move.

My call to her causes a crack in the clouds. Her employer smiles in the kitchen and refers to me as that senseless hoyden wasting away in the garden. I want to cry but I’m naked already and the skies are turning blue.

Shame is not something I am able to feel in nature. This truth eludes her behind closed doors. The floors are so shiny that her earrings glisten in their reflection and light refracts highlights in her hair. She is speaking my name but I only hear the clangor of affectation. I cannot answer. It is not yet nighttime, therefore it is too early to come inside.

Once I loved this woman standing by the fireplace. I did so with the loyalty of a shaggy bottomed puppy. She held me to her breast, smelled of peaches and Crisco. The faint hint of Chanel No. 5 gave her away; she had doused herself while tinkering in mother’s toiletries earlier that day. I dared not tell. With a child’s insouciance, I loved her skin, loose and mottled like cheesecloth, and longed to belong to the heart within.

The aperture my voice creates in the clouds opens wider. Peaches pour out, tiny peaches splashing like lemonade all around and over me. They burn my eyes, delight my tongue with their sweetness, and warm my naked skin. They wash away my lilies. They are ruined, floating around me like soggy napkins in a puddle. Wanting them back, I place my fingers on the ground and spread them apart. I dig for soil. My skin grows crêpe-like. The soil pours back, outward from my mouth, prayers for God’s forgiveness for having been the child who basked in the sun while the woman who smelled of peaches dusted her fingers to bone.

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Stacey Spencer writes in Birmingham, Alabama. When not writing her flash fiction, short stories, and poetry, she can be found engrossed in a book, hiking a trail, playing with her Shih Tzu, or cooking up a new recipe. She has work appearing or forthcoming in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, The Story Shack, Daily Love, and Word Riot.

Lead image“A bowl of peaches ” (via Flickr user Janos Virag)