The cold apples numb my hands as I peel them over the sink.
Strips of red and pink and gold fall away, and the perfect whiteness of apple pulp appears. I'm using these for applesauce, to be stirred with cinnamon: a invitation for autumn. This wholesome task might be in reparation for the raised voices from this morning. For the angry feelings towards a little girl who refused to budge. (Well, I wasn't budging, either.)
I rinse an apple under clear water. Spare peels slip down among puddles. But there, on the white flesh, is a deep brown spot. A bruise, softening and breaking the sugars down into something dark and melted. Pulpy. My first instinct is to gouge it away with my knife. It's not pretty; it's not fresh; it's not perfect.
I push the apple under the stream of water again. Coldness rushes over my hands again. I cannot feel the bruise under my fingertips.
But it will cook just the same. It will mash just the same. It will sweeten just the same.
Across the room, Landon is using a pan lid as drum, cymbal, and hat. He growls when the noise surprises him. He grunts when the hat falls sideways. He looks to me and lifts his arms, like a raised flag: here sits the boy, the one who makes all the noise. His sister follows the racket, brings a wooden spoon, adds volume and rhythm. They smile at each other and my heart flips over.
I chop apples -- bruised and mushed, white and crisp -- into a pot. The whole is enough to absorb a bit of forgettable imperfection. The juices are made more bold by some added flaws. It will all cook down, I tell myself. It will all come together in the end.
It will all cook down, I chant, watching the little ones. It will all cook down.
She meets my eyes and shoots me a thumbs-up while her brother squeals. I think I'm forgiven for being the mean mom, the bruised one, leaking sweetness from ugly blemishes. I think I'm forgiven for not being fresh and white under my grumpy morning. It will all come together in the end.
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