Person's face half-submerged in a pool of water

Jessica Lampard

The floor of my Honda is maps stretched wide, the radio all static as I pass rusted mailboxes, farmland, orchards. Leaves are flushing orange—soon much of this scenery will break and fall. The plummet of fruits from boughs, the thick perfume of ripeness.

I heard recently about a woman allergic to all varieties of fruit, her body resistant to its own well-being. Inspired by this small memory of a misfortune not my own, I pull over at a farm-stand heaped with harvest, plunk down a dollar, and push a succession of molasses-dark plums to my mouth. The skin splits against my teeth, my lips skim over to pitted centers. My plan to ration a few for later dissolves as juice skids down my forearms, splashes into the dust at my feet.

An hour later, steering wheel sticky, I pull up to the lakeside resort I’ve booked for the night. Its waters are coffee-dark and swilled with algae, yet I swim anyway to kill the heat. The dirty water veins down my spine and breasts and drapes into my mouth. My hands sear on the rungs of the metal ladder as I pull myself onto the dock, lake water inside all my most intimate places, leaking free.

As I settle onto my stomach to sunbathe in the evening glow, a man appears on the empty sand, his children toddling behind him in their bathing suits and water wings. I hold his stare, his smile, consider the plums burning in the swelter of my car—one for each of his children. But then I remember there’s nothing left, I ate until my chin dripped and my hands emptied. That sensation which surged through me. How it feels like enough.

Headshot of Jessica LampardJessica Lampard is a graduate of the University of Victoria’s creative writing program. She worked as a technical writer before turning her attention to literary fiction. She has since won second place in Geist’s 13th annual Postcard Story Contest, and one of her short stories is forthcoming in EVENT. She currently lives in Victoria, BC.

Image credit: Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

Read more from Cleaver Magazine’s Issue #21.

Cleaver Magazine