Post Road Magazine #27

Rotten Fruit

Chris Messer

A person came to my grandmother's door. She was in her bedroom. She turned down her book on tape. She put on her large framed glasses and slid into her thin navy slippers. She shuffled into the hallway. She shuffled into the living room. She shuffled into the kitchen. She shuffled towards the door. She opened it.

"Hello," she said, high in the beginning like she was answering the phone.

"Hello ma'am," the blurry spot in front of her said.

"How can I help you?" my grandmother asked.

"Ma'am, I'm a pilot," the blurry spot said. It moved a part of itself to touch another part of itself. "And I've been flying around your area."

"Well, how about that," my grandmother said. She held open the heavy screen door with two hands and a forearm. "What kind of plane do you have?"

He explained the type of plane he had and she pretended to listen, smiling and saying yeah and uh-huh, and finished it by saying, I'll be darned.

The pilot said, "Yeah."

"Ziggie, get out of there," my grandmother said in a snarling voice at the patch of weeds where she threw rotten fruit. The screen door closed behind her as she moved towards the railing, saying, "out, out, out." The short weeds shook slightly. She turned around and looked back up towards the blurry man.

"I'm also a photographer," he said. "I fly around and I take pictures."

"Well, how about that," my grandmother said.

"It is real pretty around here."

"Oh, sure," my grandmother said, nodding.

"I'm from Uniontown myself. I depart out of there and I fly around the area with my camera." He looked off at a few deer grazing under my dead grandfather's tree stand down over the hill. "Nothing beats these rolling hills."

"It's a lovely area, that's for sure," my grandmother said.

The blurry spot hunched down and swirled. "I want to show you a picture I took of your property." My grandmother heard the sounds of unzipping. "It's a really smart shot. It's got that barn over there and that other one up there and the house." The man got up and shoved a blurry square in her face. She could make out his finger moving around it. "There's that field here and the driveway and here's the lower field down here and there's the pond."

"Now, hold on a minute," my grandmother said, moving her face closer and looking through the small rectangles at the bottom of her lenses. The blurry shape of the house became visible to her. "Oh yeah, how 'bout that, there's the house right there."

"Yeah, and do you see the barn over here?"

"Sure. How 'bout that."

"And do you see that?" the man said, probably smiling. His finger moved towards a patch of green in the picture. My grandmother squeezed her eyelids together.

"No," she said.

"That's you working in your garden," the man said.

"Oh you're kidding," my grandmother said. She turned around so the sun would shine on the picture. She pushed it away and pulled it back towards her face until it was close enough for her breath to fog the glass. "I can't see it," she said.

She laid it down on the chipped red paint of the wooden porch. She lowered herself to the ground slowly. She knelt there below the sky trying to make out the tiny presence of herself in the picture.

"Where am I?" she asked.

The pilot showed her again.

She told me about it a little while later when I was painting her porch. I had to paint it every year because every year I painted it poorly. I told her she should have bought the photograph. She said it was too expensive. I told her it could have been something the family cherished. She just sat quietly above me on the porch, dipping her gray hands into a bowl of milk and sugar, plucking out blackberries.

I found her cat's body in the weeds next to some peach pits. He wasn't much else but fur and wet muscle. I put him in a shoebox and buried him over the hill. After I finished patting down the dirt‚Äč, I wiped my face and looked nervously up into the sky.

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