I grasp the tree branches, hoisting myself with one grunting pull up into the leaves. Cobwebs cling to my hair and face, dead branches scrape at my arms. We haven’t yet added a ladder to our household items.
Snapping off some of the dead branches around me, I survey the plums. Branches sag with the weight of clusters of fruit—in threes, fours, and fives, all plump and purple, dull with orchard dust.
I begin to pluck. Most give easily at my tug, their skin unbroken. I try to toss the fruit gently into my containers, taking care not to bruise them. I work quickly, with an ear to the front yard and my children’s voices. I should have waited, I think anxiously, until the toddler goes down for a nap.
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