Stolen Sweetness

I don’t know where I am, but I know we are going home, albeit to a temporary one. I’m at the front of the truck bed with my father. I feel safe because I am with him and I move closer to him.

He stands as do all the other men. He keeps one arm around me to keep me steady. With the other, he grasps the front of the truck bed enclosure to keep his balance as the truck shifts and lurches down the road.

Long, narrow benches run along each side of the truck bed walls. These are reserved for the women.  There are no signs or discussion. It is understood; the women sit. Some of the children sit on their mother’s lap. The rest for whom there is no lap, sit cross-legged on the floor.

Though my mother’s lap is available, I prefer to stand with my father.  At times, he lifts me up so I can see the gray strip of road as it flies by underneath the cab of the truck.

It is evening, but still light out. We are passing beneath some trees. Looking up, I notice there is something hanging from the branches.

“Papi, what is that?”

“It’s fruit. Something to eat.”

“Can I have some?”

Without responding, he reaches up and wraps his hand around one. The truck’s forward motion rips the fruit off the branch. He hands it to me.

I hold it in my hands. Its delicate yellowish-green skin is translucent.

“Try it,” says my father.

I take a small, tentative bite. A shockwave of sweetness accosts my brain.  My father looks down at me with his tired smile.

I reach the fruit up to him. “Have some,” I say.

“No, Hijita,” he says. “You eat it.”

***

Though I’ve searched through many produce sections over the years, I’ve yet to find anything that tastes as sweet as that stolen pear.

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