How I Liked the Avocados

by Wendy Oleson Read author interview April 25, 2010

I stuffed one in a knee-high boot, another in my make-up case, and nested the third in a cowl-neck sweater, an itchy Christmas gift from Greg’s parents. I thought security would take your avocados (my avocados) if I didn’t hide them deep in the suitcase. I’d heard rules about produce and quarantines; maybe I had a guilty conscience. I said I’d see you again before we left, but I couldn’t get away.

Avocado #1:
Ripe before the other two, this is a mystery. Did it cook in my shoe under the plane? I called you in the bathroom on the layover and apologized to your voicemail. I still don’t have any messages. When we get home I can’t sleep; I eat the avocado in the dark, standing over the wooden cutting board. I eat the skin because it is thin and from your tree.

Avocado #2:
I take it from my sock drawer and open it before it’s ready. I’m greedy. I’m wasteful. Careless. You won’t call me back. In the other room, Greg watches television. The fruit is hard and yellow around the pit. It sinks in my stomach, and I have to throw some away, concealed in a paper towel, buried under three days of garbage, buried. When I return to the couch, he puts his feet on my lap, then lifts them away, confused. Honey? Weren’t you going to get us a snack?
I have green flesh under my fingernails.

Avocado #3:
Greg comes home early. How strange, he says—he doesn’t remember buying that avocado, but there it is, splayed across our cutting board. We eat it standing up. He gets out the salt and tells me about a new account: the account is good. Or is the avocado good? When the food is gone, I don’t quite believe it. Like a dog, I still smell the skin. I see the oil that darkens the wood of the cutting board. Greg shrugs off his jacket and begins to unbutton his shirt. He smiles because it’s Friday. I step to the sink and turn the wood over and over under the faucet, rubbing green into the grain with my fingertips. I must stop checking my phone.

The only problem is you gave me a fourth. I’m almost sure of it, and I can’t imagine what kind of mess I’ll find if I find it. I remember packing that morning: somewhere between rolled up jersey knits and soft denim skirts, I planted that avocado like a seed. I still see myself crouched over the suitcase, and I watch the busy hands of a dumb, rosy-cheeked girl who thought she had something special to hide, something rich promised to her.

About the Author:

Wendy Oleson is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she reads for Prairie Schooner. She has an MFA from Oregon State.

About the Artist:

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.