by Kim Steutermann Rogers
It was morning, the third of my honeymoon, and I headed out for my solo run. From a distance, I saw colorful dots on the road that turned out to be mangoes, fallen and run over by tourists’ rental cars. I dodged the meaty pulp on the ground the way I would mud puddles, intent on keeping my regular eight-minute mile pace, when a mango fell, brushing my shoulder and swirling to the ground at my feet, stopping me.
I took it as a sign and picked it up, rubbing its smooth skin to my cheek and catching a sweet scent emoting near the stem’s end. Without thinking, I sunk my teeth into the fruit, juice dribbling down my chin, following the curve of my neck down my chest and between my breasts. I looked up into the dense umbrella of slender leaves, staring up at its fruity sunset-colored ripe ornaments. I was in love.
Every morning for the six days left of my honeymoon, I returned to this mango tree, eating one mango after another, handfuls of mango, so many mangoes, sure the yellow-orange meat was key to my fertility. When it came time to leave, I slipped a mango pit into my suitcase.
Six weeks later, a stick turned pink. I knew it. Hopeful, I planted the mango pit into the ground. But 33 days after that, I miscarried.
I wanted to try again, but there were no mangoes. It was too soon. It took 10 years for the tree to fruit. By then, there were no more eggs. I watched as green mangoes ripened into sunbursts and fell to the ground, eaten alive by ants and flies. One day, I went outside and gathered a basket of mangoes. I had meant to bury them. Mark their graves with a stone. But their aroma overtook me, and I sat on the ground caressing each mango against my cheek, tears mixing with the oils of the fruit on my face. Soon, my face started burning. My hands, itching.
This time, the oils weeping from the mango ignited oozing blisters on my skin. My throat tightened. My head grew dizzy. I struggled to pull air into my lungs. All that was left for me to do was scratch my heart out.
Kim Steutermann Rogers is a writer who lives on Kauai with three chickens, two dogs, and one husband. Read more of her work at kimsrogers.com and follow her on social media at @kimsrogers.