They walk, full bellies, to the farmers market. Talking about those pregnancy pact girls, if no one loves them, if motherhood is transgressive. When they arrive they look at a man puckering from his dissatisfaction with local farms.
“Joni,” Rosa says, “How would you want your husband to love you?”
“I want someone who will treat me like an unripe tomato, lots of sunshine until I’m 18.”
“I recommend a local sex offender website then,” Rosa replies. “You can’t have a wrinkled grape pay for your college tuition, that’s like having a sugar daddy, not someone to love you.”
They walk past various booths selling eggplants and watermelons the size of Joni’s stomach, until they reach a honey booth.
“I’ve been craving these.” Joni pushes her hair behind her ear.
Rosa watches her closely, confusing the smell of honey for her fingers, imagining them sticky and sweet. She pulls a dollar out of her pocket and hands it to Joni.
“Whatever flavors you like queenbee.” Rosa steps away from Joni. Discontent with their lunch, she searches for the scent of kettle corn.
“I always think about my food communicating to Dylan. By eating this honey I’m saying here my boy, taste sugar, and see how so many things can be sweet. I imagine his kicking to say ‘thank you mama,’ eating is the only way I can get to him yet.” Joni tells the woman in response to her asking if she knows the sex yet.
She gives Joni 3 more honey sticks and wishes her luck. Rosa comes back, taking Joni by the hand. Hoping for people to mistake them as a couple, she asks Joni, “Do you think people ever mistake us as a couple?”
“Rosa, we damn near look like sisters. Besides, I don’t think people assume you got me pregnant.”
Rosa suddenly found herself puckering at her own dissatisfaction. She regretted putting lemon on her hair the brief time the sun came out in August. Maybe if she didn’t their highlights wouldn’t resemble each others. She thinks about her first question to Joni, how she expected her someone to be her, how she assumed Joni’s innocence would make her fond of Rosa’s maturity, how she wanted to care for Joni and her baby. She kept her hands to herself for the rest of the day.
“Speaking of your pregnancy, do you ever think about Dylan as a fruit? You know that term 'fruit of my loins?' Imagine your fetus as an apple, or better yet, your preferred unripe tomato.” Rosa grabbed a green tomato from a booth close by and slowly pulled it off it’s vine. “It must not be hard to pick it Joni. Replant it and let it grow when the season is right. You’re only sixteen, this is not the season.”
“I don’t need a husband to love me.” Joni lowers her head as she chews on the plastic of the honey stick.
“That’s not what I’m saying.” Rosa raises her voice to get a response from Joni.
“I know what you’re saying. I’m not reckless, I’m educated on every aspect of sex which is why I used it to my advantage.”
“Your advantage being?” says Rosa.
“To have someone love me as much as I love them.” Joni opens up another honey stick to stop the conversation and start a new one with Dylan.
Rosa looks down at Joni, recognizing her childlike behavior. “For someone named after Joni Mitchell, you girl are much less profound.” Joni lifts only her eyes towards Rosa.
“Well like Joni Mitchell said, a woman must have everything. If I want a child, let me have a child. Who’s to say it isn’t the season? You know that commercial... the one about fighting your instincts?”
“That’s a Fiber One commercial,” Rosa snaps.
“Well regardless what it’s about, I’m not going to. My mom told me ‘Joni, having sex is an adult decision,’ and I realized it’s not. It’s a human one. My maternal instinct is telling me now is the time. None the less, I do think the opinion from a lesbian cougar is super relevant.”
Rosa watches her walk away and goes over the Joni Mitchell song in her head—unripe tomato still in hand she mumbles
Out of the fire and still smoldering She says "A woman must have everything" Shades
of Scarlett Conquering she says "A woman must have everything"
and she wishes that at twenty she could follow her instincts as well as frontal lobeless sixteen year old Joni.