That smell of October wafted through the air. The smell of leaves turning, being kicked up by Fall breezes, the smell of burning wood in fireplaces, and the smell of pinion pine seeping into Calloway’s lungs, down to her toes and back up again to her gleaming smile. This time of year, she walked lighter, practically grew another two inches, and smiled at everyone who crossed her path.
She walked along the cobble stoned street in her small town, a hand-woven basket swinging from her arm. She saw Martha, the apple vendor, and stopped to peruse her picks of the day. Selecting just the right Red Delicious had proved only sometimes successful. She liked them hard, darkest burgundy blood-red, and larger than her hand could hold. She liked cold, crisp apples, so she always tucked them in her ice box as soon as she returned home.
Later, after pulling on her simple white bikini and a sheer, billowy, long skirt, she decided a braid would be good since it was unusually windy outside. After pulling her hair to the side and securing it with a hair tie into a low side ponytail, she divided her thick, wavy, red hair into three sections. As she weaved her hair into a thick, tight braid, she hummed to herself. It wasn’t any kind of identifiable tune, but it was melodious. She tied the bottom of her braid with a pink hair tie, the curl of the braid’s tail reaching to the bottom of her rib cage.
She gathered the apple, some brie cheese, and crisp breads into a canvas bag along with her thermos of ice water and a large, impressionist printed towel in blues and greens. She packed a magazine, a book, and her big, floppy, pink hat. Picking up her Carrie Donovan-like sunglasses, she slid them onto her porcelain face, and walked out the open, accordion-folded glass wall, onto the deck, and onto the beach.
Her pale toes and feet blended into the near-white sand with only her marmalade toe nails popping out like rounded flower buds about to bloom.
Laying down on the towel, she stretched out to soak up the sun. The warmth on her skin invigorated her, enveloped her like her grandmother’s hugs even though the wind chilled her such that goose bumps popped up all over her skin.
She focused on the waves rolling in and receding, as if they were a small, shy boy, wanting to say hi but retreating the moment she heard him approaching. She concentrated on the seagulls’ calls to each other. She took in the salty air around her, breathed it in deeply, and exhaled with a small, content smile. She inhaled once more and swore she filled her body with coconut, the heavenly scent from the Hawaiian Tropic oil she used growing up. She closed her eyes, and began to talk out loud to her grandmother.
“I hope you’re out there, Granny. I hope you’re proud of me. I feel you everywhere, but I doubt the small hope inside me that you’re here with me, that life after life truly exists. Maybe I’m just talking to the wind and the waves. Am I crazy? I could be. I probably am. I just wanted to say hi. I miss you. I miss you every single day, and sometimes, it hurts, it physically hurts how much I miss you. I hope you can hear me. I love you.”
Reaching into the canvas bag, she pulled out her Red Delicious. She loved the first bite, crisp and cracking as her teeth punctured it. She pulled on the bite to rip it from the apple. A little juice dribbled down her cheeks, blending with her tears, running like a rivulet, a salt-water-apple-juice rivulet. Calloway relished the cold, cold sweet of the apple, now missing a chunk that previously made it perfect and whole. As she chewed, she raised the apple to the sky. “To you, Granny, who made everything sweet and delicious and whole.”