Sunday, July 25, 2010

Since arriving in Culebra, Tallulah has fallen victim to a variety of fevers, colds, coughs, and fungal and staph infections. She has drunk bleach and eaten bread containing BHT. Now add to that list: Playing with the fruit of the most toxic plant on earth. That's right, good family fun was had today tossing manchineel fruit hither and yon in the gentle surf of Electric Beach. The fruits are like little green apples that float. Perfect for water games. Mom was intrigued by said fruits and peeled back the skin to sniff at the flesh. Hmm, I thought. Sweet. Tantalizingly so. I showed Tallulah the interesting large white seed within. (One of our hobbies, across the world, has been dissecting the local flora. And on occasion, fauna.) I saw more, scattered along the sand, and wandered around collecting them, intending to look them up in the field guide at “home.”
    Then a little voice in my head started to whisper. It's a little intuitive voice I have, and it's been there for a long time, probably thanks to the fact that when I was a little girl, my own mom used to take me out into the fields and woods and teach me the names of plants. And it was getting more urgent. It was saying, manchineel. Manchineel. This was after I'd lifted one of those sweet little fruits and brushed it ever so delicately against my lips, savoring its siren sweetness.
    Several minutes later I felt an uncomfortable sensation in my mouth, a certain numbness, a certain tightness, and I thought I could feel the right side of my body go slack and then my heart jolted, possibly with adrenaline, or just wrongness. I sat down.
    When we came back to the boat and looked it up, we found out that the Caribs used to poison their arrows with this stuff.
    Why am I quickly being disqualified as a parent? Well, partly because it's the full moon. Is there some Scorpio in this one, or some Aries? Astrologers, help me out here. I've been tense and edgy. I'm full of delusions of grandeur on the one hand, fear of failure on the other. I've been wearing myself out with thinking about how to make some money without sacrificing family life, because lately our finances have been like buffalo meat (you know, very healthy).
    So I'm in the process of finishing the next airport bestseller, but in the meantime I'll be launching my new business: Fear Grin Productions. Copyediting and Proofreading Services. No Job Too Large or Too Small. I'm a Virgo, ergo a perfectionist, and when you're talking about comma splices or “which” versus “that,” perfectionism is a good thing. (That comma before “because” in the previous paragraph? Technically, it shouldn't be there.) I'm considering this as a tagline: If there's one thing I can get right, it's your writing.
    (Curtain.)

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