The fat radish survives only because of the caressing of her soil bed, suspending her as a cloud through soft cycles of light and moon. The satin veins of her roots dance in delicate patterns with the dirt, a rhythm special to the song of her origins. Her pale, stringy fingers converge in a greater whole, the red-violet belly that nurtures her sustenance. Splatters of clouds paint the radish in laughs of innocence, nighttime foot pattering, and unbreakable bonds. Her thick, bullish core pulls everything together like a moon, like her very own planet. Moist soil and sunlight nudge layer upon layer to climb across the paper skin, a raw shade of Earth, a radiating memory, until the radish collects its living in a firm, popping ripeness.
I jumped over the garden and into the flashing reds and purples of the street. The fountain of vegetable leaves tickled my bare feet- they’d bet perfect come fall. The street itself was a garden with its bushels of tipsy adults swaying in the cool breeze, their colorful kids whizzing through their legs like windswept petals. Mommy and Daddy leaned on each other as they chatted with the Apicella’s, the heartbeat of lights capturing their smiles in the air with each burst of color. It was here that they decided to plant our roots, which would expand for generations to come. It was here that we claimed home.
The blacktop thrummed as if the stems of the DJ booth were dancing under the cement. Balloon animals galloped by, kids in tow. The light air buzzed with each breath and mosquitos clung to the trees. We darted through bodies crowding our Court, dotting the road behind us with pool water and Kool-Aid. They knew who the street belonged to.
“Gotchu!” I gasped, stretching for Angela’s curtain of blonde hair.
She turned to face me, smiling, eyes flashing under the pumping lights. “Okay. Let’s go find the boys.”
We knew exactly where they would be. The twins, our twins, ducked under the cotton candy sign as we pushed our way to the front of the Gismondi house where we all liked to swim during the summer.
Angela struck a pose, resting bony hands on bony hips. “We see you!” she bragged, glaring at the sign.
Hesitantly, two heads of fluffy brown hair appeared over the stand. Mike and Ray’s rich brown eyes, sheepish, glinted back at us.
“Come on, let’s sit down.”
Angela and I plopped down on our usual spot at the curb, the loose gravel poking comfortably at the bottom of our thighs. The boys climbed from their hiding place and crawled up beside us in our usual order. I ripped off a chunk of Mike’s cotton candy and popped it in my mouth.
The soil rumbled under our palms as fireworks lit up the night sky.
It is when the oaks begin to die that a gloved hand toys at the radish’s bushel of leaves. The soil, hopelessly moist, clenches in around its kin, beseeching tradition and his roots to die. The hand secures its leverage and yanks the radish from her home in the ground, dirt raining down in pebbly black tears. The roots, writhing like worms, grasp for the soil, veins drained of their blood. The hole in the ground, half- caved in and choking on dirt. The leaves of the radish twitch in the wind as they are tossed carelessly among the others. Flashing magentas, royals, maroons, all matured too quickly. The bulb and her memories are carted away from home, just like the rest of them.
My brother’s scooter zipped past, tossing gravel over my bare feet. I swept at the rocks with a dying pen, my eyes rooted to the paper crinkling in my lap: “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea.” I glanced over my essay, uncertain.
Dead leaves skittered behind the scooter, caught in the crisp current of autumn. They tumbled at me through the graveyard of the garden, misting the air with the ash of its soil. the vegetables were good this time of year, the always were. Every fall, a new batch littered our countertops and our cutting boards. When we were little, my sister and I would pretend they each had a name and personality. We always felt guilty during harvest season, ripping them away from their homes. They must’ve hated us.
Daniel sliced around the cul-de-sac, eyes on the blacktop before him, ignorant to the locked doors beside him. Musical ghosts whispered through the pavement, clouds of fireworks puffed across the sky. The block parties ended thirteen years ago after one of the neighbors got sick of kids running around everywhere.
Angela’s house glared through its denim blue shutters, cold like the girl inside. Her car was gone- she was probably at a boy’s house. Not our boys- they stopped coming to the Court a long time ago. We all did.
My paper tickled my arm in the breeze from the street, laughing at our tragic endings. A list of school names leered up at me from the screen on my laptop, taking up our old spot on the curb. The applications were all filled out. They waited impatiently for the seal to their envelope, 650 words explaining why I belong:
“Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea.”
The glow of our kitchen lights flooded the lawn behind me- it was time for dinner. In ten months, those amber lights and their call to warmth would be foreign to me, whether I liked it or not. A radish ripped from home.
I snapped my laptop closed and stepped away from the curb.
The cool breeze of moonlight sings lightly the songs of youth. The hum of origins sifts the soil of the garden and the moon listens, her melancholy smile of bone showing its face for only an instant.
© 2017, Annalie Buscarino. All rights reserved.
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