Writing by Kyrsten Su
I grew up vermillion. When I was eleven I didn’t need my parents for anything. Just a ride to swim practice and I handled all the rest. I did all my homework and I read big books and I actually liked to learn so they left me well enough alone, let me bike myself to school, let me fill out my own permission slips, let me make my own breakfast. When I was twelve I read in a HealthLine article that you needed fruit to make a balanced breakfast so I ate tons of apples and peaches and pears all with the skin on cause I never learned how to peel it. That year, my parents planted a persimmon tree in the backyard. It took her some years to mother fruit, but in four years her branches were bowing under orange-hued weight. When I was sixteen the persimmon tree erupted outside my window. But my head was buried in textbooks and by the time I came up for air, autumn had almost tiptoed away. It was a day in mid november when I went out to meet the tree in all her glory, to revel in her ravishing reds, and I found my father gazing up at the branches, holding a plastic Marina Foods grocery bag. “帮我一下,” he says, “help me a moment.” So I climb a rickety stepstool and reach up high as I can for the fruits, and I curl my fingers ‘round so it’s three on the left and two on the right and twist so the stem breaks and I toss them down into the bag, but there are some I can’t reach no matter how hard I stretch, so without a word my father passes me the bag and he reaches them for me. I watch him curl his fingers ‘round so it’s three on the left and two on the right and twist so the stem breaks and toss them down into the bag, same as me, and although no one says it I know we are one and the same, father and daughter, and maybe it wasn’t so bad to need someone. The next morning I made my breakfast as usual. When I go to get my fruit, my fingers hover over the wire-ringed fruit bowl. I choose the persimmon, turn it over in my palms, stare at the bold sunset ombre of its skin, and my mother looks over my shoulder. She looks tired– she usually never wakes up this early. “我帮你削皮,” she says, “I’ll peel the skin for you.” Gently, she takes the fruit out of my hands and expertly coaxes its skin off with a paring knife. The end result is pale, soft. My mother smiles, just as soft. “谢谢,” I whisper, “thank you.” A second passes. “我来教你,” comes her reply, “I’ll teach you.” You know, I think I’ve grown persimmon.