We had a pomerac tree which grew in the south-eastern corner of our yard. Its slim trunk held the full weight of abundant foliage which was concentrated at the top and to add to that, this tree bore fruit twice, sometimes three times a year and it was always laden. A pomerac is sort of heart-shaped red fruit with white flesh beneath the blood-red exterior. If it was out of season, the fruit would be sour and only fit to be eaten with salt and pepper. There was this superstition that girls were not supposed to climb trees as the fruit would become sour. That didn’t stop us. Sour fruit always made an excellent chow*.

There was one time, I believe my father wasn’t at home because he was nowhere around. The pomerac tree was laden and the ones at the top were so ripe, they looked almost purple with sweetness. They beckoned and we could not resist. Like busy ants we grabbed the heavy ladder and toted it all the way from the coconut tree which was on the opposite side of the yard, across the drain and rocks and mud all the way to the pomerac tree. Since the trunk was so slim and smooth, we required a little help. My sisters and I hadn’t graduated to scaling tree trunks yet.

My youngest sister Micky stayed at the bottom and held the ladder and the bag into which we would drop the fruit once we had picked them. I was midway up and my younger sister Marsh was almost at the top since she was lighter and smaller. Now, you have to understand that all three of us are deathly afraid of heights, but we were unwilling to sacrifice the pomeracs to the birds and so with one hand gripping the branches for dear life, the other one would be used to pick and pass or pick and drop the fruit into the bag below.

We must have only picked half a dozen or so when we heard a shout in the distance. It was our dad. Where had he come from? Dammit, he always showed up when we didn’t want him to. But he wasn’t the problem. Since Marsh was closer to the top she saw it first. Its tongue flicked in and out of its mouth and it was curled around a thin branch like a vine and it was a bright green. No wonder we hadn’t seen it. It almost matched the colour of the leaves and the very young branches and stems.

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