The mangos were rotting—that’s how I knew she was going to die.
Doria Day was a simple woman—some people are just like that. She would get up in the morning and walk her three miniature poodles, shower, and drink coffee while she read the newspaper. Doria Day still read the newspaper.
When she’d moved into town, there was already a mango tree in her backyard, right in the view from my window. I’d lived there my whole life, and there had never been mangos. The day after she moved in, there were plenty. She would pick them, placing them delicately into wicker baskets—but there were always mangos.
My grandmother had taught me about the trees when I was young. She’d said they just wait for the right person, like a soulmate. That’s why some people called them Soul Trees—my grandmother had called them Trees of Life. These Trees of Life say a lot about a person—what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling. They droop when the person is sick, and they flourish when they are well and happy. Everyone has one, somewhere—we had one for me in the front yard, but it was apples. Bright, shiny red apples, growing since the day I was born.
Doria Day’s mangos were rotting. The leaves were still fine, implying she was in good health—an accident then? Supposedly, they could tell the future like that.
I made plans to see her—we agreed I would take her to do her weekend shopping, after she walked her three miniature poodles, showered, drank her coffee, and read the newspaper. She insisted on reading the newspaper.
That day, I put on shoes and a light jacket to protect against the morning chill, and stepped out of my front door, stopping only to take in the presence of my own tree—sometimes, it just felt comforting to see my thoughts and feelings, my health and wellbeing, reflected in the tangible world, something to remind me that I was doing okay. Reaching up into the branches, I plucked fruit from between the leaves, taking a bite; I’ve always loved the taste of apples—it was like the taste of existing. I’d been so busy with school and work lately, it was a relief to finally stop and savor the sweet fruit for the first time in over a week. Delicious juice dripped down my chin; I licked my lips clean as I stepped away from the tree, tantalizing flavor bleeding over my tongue as I chewed.
Thoughts turning to the day ahead, my foot caught something soft and unnatural. I swallowed the fruit in my mouth, and looked under my shoe to see a rotting apple, oozing into the grass, brown and rancid.
KJ Angelo is a queer Latinx writer, editor, and translator living in Portland, Oregon; KJ is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop.