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after Sylvia Plath

I used to believe life was like this big old fig tree full of fruit. I was just sitting in the crotch of the tree, and each fig was a fantastic future I could imagine for myself, ripe for the taking. All I had to do was pick a fig. Choosing—that was supposed to be the hard part.

So I decide on one, and then find out I can’t reach it, or any of the figs near it. I try to climb up a ways, but the branches crack under me, like they were never meant to hold a person’s weight. I think, okay, let me try some of these figs a little closer to me already. Then some of those drop out of reach right when I get close. They shy away like, “ooh i think u rly want a diff fig honey!! I saw u climbin up that other branch!”, and another fig is all “the palm of your hand is just not the absolute best fit for this fig at this time, but we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you see other figs that interest you nearby.”

At this point, I’m a little farther up in the tree than before, so I reach sideways for figs that are now on my level, but they’re somehow still just out of reach. The figs that used to say I was underqualified turn to me and say, “Hmm now you are OVERqualified for this fig” or “You seem too ambitious for this branch of figs,” so I try changing my beat and reaching lower but then it’s all “u don’t seem ambitious enuf to rly make it on this fig path if ur reaching down sweaty :)” so I figure well damn, may as well try to be a figboss, and I start on upward again but those goddamn figs way up in the tree just pretend they don’t even see me reaching for them, and now I’m balanced on even more precarious branches, about to fall to my death, running out of fig futures, while all the ones left just keep growing further out or falling to the ground in a pile of rot. Like, how does anyone with depression make it in this damn fig tree?

I start noticing all these bugs, too—fruit flies, little green beetles, and these freakish wasps that—oh my god, are they burrowing into these figs? Or are they crawling out of them? And these birds circling above either look like they have it out for me or this sweet, sweet, fig flesh, or maybe both, and suddenly I’m questioning why I ever climbed up this fig tree in the first place.

And I know it’s too much to ask for a fig to just drop into my lap. I totally complain when it happens to other people, or when they show up with ladders or those fancy fruit-picking poles that I didn’t even know existed before I started climbing this fig tree. But can’t you see I’ve been working hard this whole time? I got myself this far into the tree, didn’t I? And kept climbing, didn’t I? And haven’t given up and dropped dead even though I’m starving? Haven’t I? Haven’t I?