‘Six months, maybe a year.’ That’s all I really hear or understand, though my dad keeps talking like he’s afraid to stop. My mom holds his hand tightly and tries to smile, tries to be brave for us. But above her shoulder, out the large window, I can see our peach tree. The slight breeze rustles the sickle-shaped leaves surrounding the ripe fruit. ‘She won’t see next summer’s peaches,’ is the only thought my brain can hold. I don’t know yet that she won’t live to see the early blossoms of spring. 

I avoid the peach tree after she’s gone. I don’t even allow myself a peripheral glance through the window. I can’t face the sweet memories turned rotten through grief. I don’t let myself remember how she’d set me on her shoulders so I could reach the ones at the ‘tippy, tippy top’, or proudly walking with her to deliver boxes of peaches to grateful neighbors, or how she taught me to make peach jam, taught me how to sneak snitches when no one was looking. I stay away from the tree. Away from the memories. 

Months of avoiding go by before I finally venture into the backyard and sit on the stone bench beside our peach tree. It looks bad, weighed down, and drooping. It smells awful. Rotting peaches on the ground. But I am not upset by the appearance and stench. Both match my feelings. It’s darkly satisfying. I will be leaving for college in a few weeks and I am glad. I do not want to be home with the memories.

But I can’t stay away. Spring comes and I come home to see the blossoms. I have to somehow. I am sitting on that old stone bench. The boughs have been trimmed. There’s no festering fruit at my feet. The blossoms are in full pink bloom. I am here and I let myself remember. My heart speaks and I listen. This is grief. This is joy. This is pain. This is beauty. This is home. 

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
1 year ago

Moving from sadness at the inevitable death with the “sickle-shaped leaves” reflecting the Spector of Death and the decaying fruit on the ground, to acceptance and joy of finally coming home.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
1 year ago

It was very hard to contain the tears while reading this story. The memories representing her home are bittersweet when the reason she remembers them is so painful.

musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

I can completely relate to your story. Nothing can beat mother’s love. The description of how your mother taught you to make peach jam and all the good things will always remain etched in your brain.

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Halted by your first line within minutes of hearing the same timescale for the latest restrictions from Boris Johnson today. Yours is about a life of course, but there are parallels with wondering if there will be any metaphorical blossoms for all of us by spring.

musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

Congratulations!

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Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Well done on being the other runner up with your thoughtful story.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Well done Josie. Beautifully written, stirring all of the emotions.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Well done Josie.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

A wonderfully sad story with elements of loss and sadness as well as renewal and hopes. It’s a great idea to let the peach tree and its yearly cycle take on the central role in your story, becoming a symbol for the process of life and death, decay and growth.
The last part is very inspirational. There is a wiseness in the act of returning to the place for the loss. The words “l let myself remember,” show maturity and acceptance of both pain and joy. The “I” of the story thus has reached a new stage of development, just like the trimmed fruit tree.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

I feel the agony of your character, Josie because I went through all of that after the death of my beloved father. You executed it well. The bitter memories representing home are so painful. Overcoming the sadness from death and letting the memories be remembered is a very brave and wise decision. Good write and congratulation on your win.

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