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By Anna Kelly
*Editor's Note: Previously published at The SU Rival.
I’m four or five or six, sitting in my grandparents’ front yard with a big metal bowl of snap beans in my lap. Pinch and twist, pinch and twist, I know the ritual like I know my mother’s tantalizing warning: “Always wash your hands when you’ve finished up a batch. They’re sprayed with poison.”
Handling deadly beans is how I pay my keep for being the beloved granddaughter. Someone has gobbed sunscreen onto my twig legs, for the afternoon sky is a white-hot swath, brutal even for a North Carolina summer. The light seeps straight into my head—sloshes around inside like lemonade.
I nibble on my pinky nail without thinking. The bitter taste reminds me too late of my mother’s words. Sprayed with poison. This must have been how Snow White felt right before she took a tumble. In a dreamlike calm, I put the bowl of beans aside and stand. There’s no time to cry or run for an adult. I plant my feet in the ground and swivel round, awed at how each panoramic scan of my grandmother’s garden could be my last sight. I go where there are yellow daffodils and wait to die.