MIRIAM N. KOTZIN
summer her parents sent her to live with her father's brother, Tom and
his newest wife, Alice, Carrie was nine. She stayed all summer in their
small brick house. Her bed was under the sloping roof. She was happy in
their house and on the concrete porch. She liked playing in the yard
surrounded by the chain link fence. A peach tree grew in the front
yard, and all summer she watched and waited as the peaches ripened.
She sat on the steps in the sun and felt the heat of the steps on her
legs, and she felt the heat seep through her cotton shorts. She
liked the sun on her face and arms. She held her legs out to get them
tanned. Aunt Alice brought her glasses of real lemonade. In a few weeks
the peaches would be ready to pick.
And most days while Uncle Tim was at work, Alice and Carrie danced on
the linoleum floor of the kitchen, the jitterbug, the cha cha, the
foxtrot. Her aunt taught Carrie the steps, how to move her body, sway
to the music, She held Carrie tight and taught her to spin and to dip.
She taught her how to follow a lead, how to feel the subtle pressure of
a hand on her back telling her how to move. She promised that she would
show Carrie how to pick the peaches, but they had to wait until they
One morning Carrie was going to take her shower when Alice asked if
Carrie knew how to wash "there." She pointed to a place below Carrie's
navel. Carrie didn't know what her Aunt meant. "I'll show you," she
said. She soaped up a wash cloth and handed it to Carrie. "Clean
yourself," she said. And she watched. "Not like that," she said.
"Between your legs." She watched as Carrie washed. "No," she said. "To
be clean you have to wash between and inside. Do you want me to show
you?" Carrie said yes, and her Aunt took the soapy cloth and scrubbed
and scrubbed. Later that afternoon they picked ripe peaches. They were
warm from the sun, and her aunt showed Carrie how to pick, not to tear
them from the tree. The ripe ones come off easily. She offered a sweet
ripe peach to Carrie, held it in her palm carefully so she wouldn't