The slaps on her face have a tea-taste, bitter and lukewarm. It’s hard to eat while being hit so she sets her fork down on the wood and waits. Daddy’s cheeks are cherry-pie and he is breathing heavy, the way he does when he climbs a stack of stairs or stumbles out of bed. His words worm into the shell of her ear.
What do you think? What do you think? You think I’m stupid.
Mommy flashes her sugar smile over the table and cups the cheeks of the bundled baby, coos.
That’s okay, that’s okay. Daddy can stop now. Honey will be good. Honey will pour us some tea.
The girl Honey pours hot tea into cracked enamel cups that jut out of the table like broken teeth.
She sits down and picks her fork. Daddy hovers. The fork stem bends under the weight of his shadow.
What am I meant to do about her? What am I meant to do.
Honey impales jade green peas on her plate. She sends one of them rolling over the wooden table where it lodges itself in a crack and stares out at her like the iris of an all knowing eye. She laughs at this and now there is another slap and I’m sure this is very funny. Daddy stop. Daddy stops. Daddy sits.
Honey looks at them sitting or swaddled there, on the other side of the table. Behind them is a window and beyond the window a green line of trees in the distance. As she squints it grows a little bigger, until it turns into a thick horizontal smudge. She blinks and the forest flickers, grows, shuffles closer.
What are you glaring at at?
Honey glares. Honey bares her teeth. Daddy opens his mouth. Mommy blinks. Baby gurgles. Honey thinks about how under the table Mommy and Daddy are both wearing shoes but her own feet are bare. She shares a knowing glance with the pea-eye in the table.
You gave me the wrong name.
I am not a sweetener.
I am a poison.
I taste like bitter almond.
The trees rush towards the glass like a emerald tide.
And the green eye is rolling madly in it’s socket.
The tiles on the driveway retreat into the thicket like a tide pulling back before a tsunami
She can smell the pine - thick tacky tarwood taffy.
Daddy screams at Honey to stop but it’s already here glass crashes inwards and branches rip up boards, domesticated wood sun-splotched booze splashed old man whiskey scratched fingers fumble for the door -
crisp prickly needles pierce pasty powdered skin
They are sharp to better cut through the skin.
The bark rough to better rasp meat from the bone.
A choir of twigs crackle and snap into silence.
Honey rattles her breath, sneezes splinters. The tea, peas, table, window and wooden house are gone. Daddy’s rooted to the ground, stands still and silent before her, brows bent under branches hung heavy with acorns. Thin tall Mommy waves in the wind like a reed. Little sapling between them pushes out bright buds, spits sap.
Honey curls up and cries and rolls like an apple
far away from the trees.