A year and a half ago, I submitted this to Nate Wilson’s (ND Wilson, for those of you who know him by his initials) Leaptide writing group. Let me know what you think.
I think what I remember most about him is his food. My father was a man who ate strange things – sorghum and keifer and salsa so strong it made you cough. He once ate a grasshopper while my brother and I watched. He pulled off its thorny back legs and popped the rest into his mouth all at once. One crunch, a swallow, and a smile. “Don’t give the little guy a chance to explore,” he said.
I remember a day sitting with my mother in a kitchen filled with sun. She was peeling carrots, and I was helping. The naked carrots and I sat next to each other on the counter, and my mother and I discussed my father. He was sitting in the dining room at the time, eating. A tall glass of water sat by his elbow.
“Why does Dad eat that stuff?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, onions and things.”
My mother laughed. “Lots of people like onions.”
“Not just onions, though. Liver and figs and Brussels sprouts and bitter tea and bread with the crust still on.”
“Daddy likes to eat what’s good for him,” my mother said. She ran the peeler along the carrot and a curl of orange followed her hand.
“Why? What about things that taste good? Does he like things that actually taste good?”
She laughed again, and looked at my eyes. “Those things do taste good. To him.”
I crossed my eyes and looked at my nose. “That doesn’t make sense,” I said.
“It will,” she said.
We heard a noise from the dining room that sounded like a glass full of water hitting a hardwood floor. Glass skated across the floor and into the kitchen. I leaned forward from my seat and saw my father’s arms and chest sprawled across the table like a beetle’s on a display board.
I looked away. My mother had cut herself with the carrot peeler, and the cutting board was red.