He taught me how to slice a mango

January 2020

Susan Snipes, “Ricochet”, acrylic, collage, sharpie on canvas panel, 11” x 14”, 2020

“I really like you,” he blurted.

His gaze was open and hopeful. Steam wisps rose from two mugs of tea on the counter beside him. Uh, oh, I thought. He is falling for me. Maybe he already loves me. I wondered if I could love him back. I wished it were so simple. He waited for me to say something. “I know,” I murmured and reached for my tea.

I bounced like a red rubber ball tethered to a wooden paddle by a skinny elastic cord. I felt myself pulled to and fro as the cord of attraction stretched taut, then slack. I told myself I wasn’t interested in him. We can just be friends. I bounced away.

His hands startled me. They were solid and strong — the hands of a creator, an artist, a sculptor. And the elastic cord yanked me toward him.

Oh, he was so awkward! His earnestness made me squirm inside. Bonk. I ricocheted away.

He invited me to paint at his studio and I was pulled back to him.

I wished for playful banter between us, but it wasn’t there. I smothered my discomfort with lame jokes. My antics distracted me from feeling the cord stretch as I hurtled away.

I leaned against the brown tile counter in his kitchen on a sunny afternoon. I gazed through the sliding glass doors past the gangly herb garden to the foothills in the distance. His little place felt remote on a hill on the outskirts of town.

He looked at me and asked, “Do you know how to slice a mango?”

I laughed, “I don’t know. Maybe?” And I shrugged, admitting my ignorance.

“Let me show you,” he said and he reached a strong hand toward a plate of mangos. He grasped one rosy mango and slowly sliced alongside the pit. Cradling the base of the exposed fruit, he scored the juicy surface just so–with two criss-crossed sets of grooves. He grabbed a large spoon and gently scraped against the skin to release the soft fruit pieces. Bright mango chunks plopped into a wide cobalt blue bowl.

I was transfixed by this simple delight. I grinned and ate the dripping fruit with my fingers. He smiled, backlit by glowing afternoon light. In that moment he was perfect.

I watched him from across the street. He gestured as he spoke to a girl with thick brown hair. She laughed and smiled. She was pretty. Does he like her as much as me? I wondered. Would he teach her how to slice a mango? The thoughts barely stung. Momentum faltered. The worn elastic cord snapped and I floated away.


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