It started in a tooth.
In my right canine, it began with a twitch. The pain reverberated from the tip, like a vampire craving a fix, I can still feel the desire. It shook my gums until my whole mouth was in pain, aching for a taste.
It filtered into my dreams.
I woke in the middle of the night, startled by what wasn’t there, worried another would take it from me.
There were rumors in the garden, it wasn’t without validation. In the country you deal with deer, in the City you deal with neighbors– and a rampant squirrel.
It became necessary for me to attend to the garden daily. Really just to survey, not to harvest. To ensure it was still there, huddled at the base of the corn stalk, lightly shaded by the beans on its new bed of straw; Lil’ Red, a Sugar Baby watermelon.
A few days later Red’s friend, Goldy (a Gold Baby watermelon, of course), disappeared. Snatched at dusk, the last of her kind, we never had a chance to taste– Goldy’s sister was attacked one night by the above rampant squirrel when just a child, we do not talk of the day’s discovery. We were told a neighborhood trio came into the garden, helped themselves to a bag of tomatoes, and as they made their way out, spotted our Goldy and stole her away. I can forgive tomatoes, but not the disappearance of Goldy.
The cantaloupes, all but two (our mystery melons that must have sprouted from our compost), are all eaten by us or attacked, again by the rampant squirrel, who has found a liking to the sweet muskmelon’s odor and tears them apart unforgivingly. Thankfully, D and I finished off the sweetest of the bunch, the Sleeping Beauty melons, our favorite, before the Squirrel realized his good fortune. So now down to only two watermelons (and two mystery melons), we covered them from the eyes of thieves and squirrels with a bundle of straw, only making their presence more obvious it seemed. We came, every night, to ensure their safety and existence.
But I couldn’t take it anymore and I think it got to D.
We pulled Lil’ Red last week. Up from his plush straw surrounds at the base of the corn where we had attended him for so many months. We photographed him in our arms, as good parents do, and gave him a gentle washing.
Then… we cut and devoured him. So quickly, he didn’t feel a thing, honest. We raised each slice above our heads, cheering our good fortune, allowing his pink juices to dribble down our arms. Lil’ Red’s crisp sweet pulp filled our mouths as we happily chewed. He was delicious.