From time to time, the beginnings of a book pop into my head. Here's another one.
I ran into Alise's mother in the supermarket. She was cradling a carton of eggs in one hand. She had lifted the lid and was peering inside, checking for broken shells as she walked through the produce section. I had been looking at apples.
I hadn't seen Alise's mother in three decades, but I knew who she was. I could see her daughter in her--the same mass of wavy (now-silver) hair, the same slightly rounded tip to her nose, the same compact yet generously proportioned figure. I walked over to her, almost walking into her. I blurted something. What I think I said was "I hope Alise understands my silence--that my silence is not indifference--that it's because I feel so strongly. It's because...."
I wanted to say more, but I couldn't.
It was a most natural thing to have said--or so it seemed to me. Still, it was incomplete and therefore vulnerable to misunderstanding yet again; it was one small link in a chain of thoughts that had been running through my head for months, never with any opportunity of expression. I imagine it came as something of a bolt from the blue to Alise's mother. She could not possibly have known who I was or what I was talking about.
I left the store quickly. I was halfway to my car when I realized I had walked out with an apple clenched in one hand. It had a small round sticker on it with the name of the apple variety. The sticker read "Pearl." I got into my car. I set the apple on the passenger seat and drove home. I next remember sitting at the living room table holding the apple again. I had no idea what to do with it. I couldn't take it back to the store. I couldn't throw it away. I wanted desperately to eat it, but I couldn't do that either. It was not mine to eat. I walked out into the garage, apple in hand. After some thought, I finally dropped it quietly into a box of old letters from Alise, hoping it might keep there, dormant, incorruptible.
Where to go from there? Nowhere.