We used to spend our evenings back in the country popping cherries. The sticky, sweet juice ran down the sides of our greedy lips, leaving us like a vampire after finishing his meal. Nights like those were beautiful. The dusty horizon faded from yellow, to orange, to pink, to purple, and finally into the deep blue-blackness that marked bedtime for most people. But for us, it was a secret thing; a special thing.
A cherry tree at the end of the day is a beautiful thing to see. After hours in the field, one certainly works up an appetite. The dirt and grime of the day seeps into the innermost pores of the skin, filling the cracks in our broken skin with a thin layer of powder. To hold the soft, dainty skin of a ripe cherry, taught and firm, between our thick, meaty fingers, was like holding the essence of purity between the fingers of corruption.
The best cherries always sat at the tops of the tree. Perhaps this was because it was late in the seasons, and all the low hanging fruit had been picked by the passersby. But we would spend hours a day there, watching the time shift around us. We would climb up the branches, until there were but little spindles of tree for us to stand on. We would reach out as far as we could, fingers straining to catch a cherry or two, while the rest of our body was stiff; carefully balanced like a tightrope walker. Until finally, in a moment of release, we would have the cherry, pop it in our mouths, and enjoy our prize.
But those days are long gone. The cherry tree was cut down, replaced by a care facility for the elderly. And while I am happy that my father will get the care he deserves (at least, that’s what the facility has promised, once he come to need it), I am still saddened that our liberties as maturing young adults were torn away from our hands. We no longer spend those late nights together, feasting on the pleasures of youth. We simply sit, and watch, and wait for the end of time to bear us a different fruit.
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