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Fic: Apricots

A gift for my sister, prompted by two of her favorite poems. Unfortunately, I didn't write the titles down anywhere, and she's currently out of the country and incommunicado, so I can't tell you what they are. I do remember that one of them, from which the opening and closing lines were taken, is a sonnet by Christina Rossetti. If you haven't read any of her work, go find some. Right now. Her best known work is probably Goblin Market.

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The Scent of Apricots
by Brat Farrar

for Abigail

So tired am I, so weary of today. . . .


Her soul was weary. When she was young, she hasn’t understood what this meant. To her then, the soul had been invisible, intangible, inconsequential. But she had been young then, and a fool. She had been young.

She wasn’t young anymore. Oh, she still looked young, sounded young, still was young as far as time knew, but her youth was behind her. Her body was young, but her soul was antique and her heart half-dead.

She was weary of the pain that struck her in the most unexpected of places. The bedroom, where she’d spent so many nights with him, held nothing to haunt her, but unpacking groceries hurt, hurt almost physically. Half the food there had once been, half the space used–the empty shelves were like tombstones or obituaries, the half-empty jar of olives a monument. She ate out of boxes now, unable to bring herself to cook for one. Some days she could scarcely bring herself to eat at all.

As painful as the kitchen was, the bathroom was worse in many ways. Some days (those same days she almost didn’t eat) she could hardly bear to enter it, and when she did, it was with eyes half-closed to avoid the sight. But shut eyes couldn’t lock out the memories: the smell of apricots; the feel of water on skin, of skin on skin, of skin on water on skin until it seemed they were of one flesh with one skin; stories told, confidences shared, secrets given and kept as their minds grew closer together; the silences of two souls so entwined that words would only divide them. . . . Memory led to memory like snowflakes colliding, or raindrops, or tears.

The more she fought the memories, the more they conquered her, until it seemed that her life was a single endless battle to drive back the past. She became so intent on her foe that she was consumed by it–every breath, every moment inseparably linked to one now spent–and she had hopelessly entangled herself in the very thing she fought to free herself from.

At last, at long last, when her final defenses were breached and overrun, and she was nearly trapped in the past, she surrendered. After yet another day of the losing battle, she locked herself in the bathroom. She ran the water in the tub, took out the apricot-scented bath-salts, stripped herself of clothes and defenses, and lowered herself into the water.

The tub seemed empty without him, like her life now that he was gone. She felt lost, left adrift, bereft of captain and crew. She wept, bowing her head, begging God to heal her fractured, wounded soul; to not leave her alone and abandoned; to grant her the peace which she had lost and now so sorely needed.

Her tears ran away with her, and she wept longer than she would have liked, although not, perhaps, quite long enough. But the water seemed warmer after that, and the tub less empty. Around her swirled the scent of apricots, and it seemed when she closed her eyes that she wasn’t as alone as she’d thought.

. . .Even me, O Lord, My Lord, remember me.