Becca Carson

Dark Fruit Soft

Isn’t this stealing? is what your little sister asked when you unclipped the helmet and lined it with your papa’s red handkerchief, but you only bit your lip in concentration—already balancing on the corrugated steel ribs of the drainage pipe to cross to the other side that night you ransacked the bad neighbor’s blackberry patch. You slipped pale wrists through the barbed wire too close to the cliff edge of the irrigation ditch, so determined to take every single berry worth picking you didn’t register the groan of the garage door opening, not until your sister’s voice from the road hollering He’s home! He’s home! pulled you from the thorned limbs of the thicket in a cold panic. That’s when your heart thundered right out like a wild rabbit trapped.

It never came back.

You nearly bit through your tongue screaming Run! but when your feet slipped in the rich black dirt and folded you like dirty laundry over the lip of the gaping metal pipe the bad neighbor’s wife turned white at the sight of fresh blood staining your teeth. She doesn’t mention the NO TRESPASSING sign when she kneels next