Fiction 2016 / flash fiction / Spring 2016 / Uncategorized / Volume 46

Grapes—Claire Tollefsrud

The couple wanted children almost as badly as they wanted each other—their wedding bands were still shiny and unfamiliar on their fingers—so they made love almost every night in their new house. The rooms were mostly empty; the kitchen counter was white and cold.

Then came the fruit bowl. The wife loved peaches, the husband loved pears, so the dish rarely ran empty. Clutter gradually began to form in the kitchen. Old mail gathered in piles on corners, old grocery lists and post-it notes were tucked among the fruit.

Then, excitement! The now-familiar counter held a pregnancy test, the red plus as bright as the ripe peaches nearby. As the wife’s belly grew she suddenly no longer liked the taste of peaches. Startled, she purchased different delectables—nectarines, oranges, apples, pineapples, and boxes of raspberries. None tasted good. Then one day she bought grapes, and ate half the bunch with barely a pause for breath. The husband had to pick up a new bunch of grapes every other day—green, red, or purple; sour, seedless; the kind did not matter. Grapes were what she craved.

Then one night she woke with blood between her thighs. Condolence cards replaced shopping lists among the forgotten fruit. The peaches were eaten. The pears were eaten. But the new bunch of grapes grew dry, them shriveled, each bulb becoming raisin-like in appearance, until they grew so ancient they turned to dust and dissolved into nothing.

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