‘Grapefruit’ by Maisie Franklin
Maisie Franklin is a student at the University of Exeter. This piece is taken from her Creative Writing dissertation.
For Oscar, who can never read this.
I think about my brother this morning as I unload the dishwasher again,
smoothing bone china and thin lipped flutes into their nooks,
I think about our fingers. The way he peeled us a grapefruit with the pad of his thumb,
we always liked to share.
bitter fruit for breakfast, granny smiths, green bananas, sour plums,
I trace the ridge of an orange bowl and stack that up too.
Maybe he can sleep through the dawn now. Maybe he had friends round for dinner last night.
From what I heard he likes to cook –
it’s funny, we never imagined we would have dinner parties of our own,
when mum had friends over we would hunker down in my room, just two conscientious
objectors with our ears pinned to the door. They always liked him more but that was fine,
I did too. Even when he started coming home late,
when Dad would sniff his clothes at the doorstep, Mum would cry in her dressing gown.
When my piggy bank lay disembowelled on the carpet, my tooth fairy
donations a secret between our fingers, I notice
there’s a crack in the blue willow that wasn’t there yesterday.
I still only ever eat one side of a grapefruit. When my boyfriend asks why, I say it’s
just something that I do. Even now, Big Brother, I go half-hungry for you