In the drought, you remember nothing but dirt and quiet. Leaving town, there’s only one road but it points in every direction, all scorch for miles and the occasional vent of air from the settlements below. One day, you come across a tree and it’s grey and bare, and in its desiccated age almost an infant of itself, but a new shoot has shouldered from one of the branches, the bud purple like a bloated leech, and you touch it and it stays tight and barely holding its moisture, but you can feel them, the leaves, stacked and waiting. You know it’s probably just a leaking reservoir below, a taproot cracked into a tapioca farm’s diminishing supply, hairline roots spreading like spider lace in the damp. But for a moment, you remember boating as a child, the sudden zoom across the water, the way the depth kept the boat afloat. Your mother ground cassava by hand in the mornings and served it as bread mounded with fried onions. ‘Get your mojo back,’ she’d say to your father and you knew it just meant magic but when you were older you blushed with the implications. The truth was that everything was sexy then. Sinuous rivers, carnal lakes, salted oceans like the taste of sex. And for a moment, while you touch that life-filled bud, you remember. Then the curled leaves come away in your palm. You walk on, forgetting where you came from, forgetting what you missed.
Kinneson Lalor followed a PhD in Physics from the University of Cambridge with an MSt in Creative Writing from the same institution. She is Australian but lives in the UK. Her work has appeared in various places including Tiny Molecules, Reflex Press, and Janus Literary, and on various shortlists including the BFFA. She writes a regular blog about sustainable gardening for edibles and wildlife and is currently querying for her novel about time-traveling botanists and beasts in castles. You can find her (and pictures of her cute dog) on Twitter (@KinnesonLalor), Instagram (@kinneson.lalor), or via www.kinnesonlalor.com.