Over the weeks leading up to my mother’s death, I went out into the orchard each night and trained myself to see in the dark. This was at her insistence. A training I at first refused.
Initially, the only things I could see were shadows. I navigated by scent and memory. This is the lemon tree; here the orange; here the fig. Here is the pear, the pomegranate and the peach.
Go further, my mother said. Glamour is dangerous magic. So I left the orchard, pushed through into the forest. Stones and twigs beneath my feet. Uneven ground. Things that slither; things that bite. Take off your shoes, she whispered. Take off your dress.
Down the hill I walked. No, nothing so elegant. I slipped, half-tumbled. Something wet and living brushed my cheek. I stood in the dam, mud and weed. Above my head, the stars thrown carelessly into the sky. I wept.
That night, I crushed the pills into her wine. You will always be beautiful, my mother said. You will always be strange.
I held out the cup. She drank it all, bitter though it was, and thanked me.