Michelle Reale

My mother glances out the window. "Your father has two sides," she hisses. "Go to him!" Shoving the apple into my chest, twisting her hands on the kitchen towel. Outside my father nods to the peppery marigolds, nestled like embryos in their small boxes, ready to be planted in the space he's cleared for me. The wind bites despite the bright sun. I bite my apple, but the taste is bitter, a remnant from the onion she had just peeled. My father sees my grimace. Laughing, he takes the apple from me. I kneel in the dirt and turn the plastic egg crate over. The first marigold comes out with ease. My father shows me how to break apart the square block of dirt so that the roots can breathe and take hold. Gentle, he tells me. I finish planting and take the apple from my father's hand. It has turned brown around my teeth marks. I take two quick bites and feel a swirl of flavors: lemon, garlic and dirt. My father watches me and shakes his head. "Spit it out if you don't like it." I take one more bite and swallow the whole thing, seeds and all.