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Sherry Gail Heim

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Fable of Figs
By Sherry Gail Heim
Sunday, January 05, 2003

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To my wonderful, big-brother, Steve: May you rest in peace and thanks for the memories.

   I grew up in a typical American family, second of four children and the oldest of three girls. I had a brother, two years my senior…we were pals! He was, of course, smarter than me, being older, and also already in school. Whatever he told me, I knew was gospel.

   We would visit our grandparent’s home often. In their yard, they had many fruit trees and we were welcome to pick from them and eat all we wanted. My grandfather’s favorites were the figs.

   They had two fig trees in the yard. One tree was a purple fig the other was a white fig. I would watch in amazement, as my grandpa would peel back the skin in four little strips starting from the top, exposing the pink and white, sticky, seedy pulp. He would hold his mouth “funny” lips kind of pursed, as he would eat it, almost like he was straining the pulp through his teeth. If “my grandpa” loved figs so much, then I was going to love figs too.

   I started eating figs often, in honor of my grandpa. I actually thought that they were quite good. Sweet, jammy and crunchy, what a great treat these figs were! That was before I learned the truth about them.

   “THE TRUTH???”

   My brother came outside one morning as I had just picked a nice, soft, ripe fig from the tree. I had peeled it back, just like grandpa had taught me and had taken the first, sweet bite. Then my brother started in.

   “You shouldn’t eat those, they are fly pods.”

   “Huh?” I asked.

   “Yes, you know those crunchy things in them?”

   “Uh-huh, they’re seeds.”

   “Nope, fly eyes!”


  “Yep, and that squishy, sweet stuff, that’s fly guts.”

   I spit out that fig as fast as I could. Now, I knew why grandpa strained them through his teeth, he was trying to sort out the fly eyes!

   My brother continued. “Yep, the first thing that grows on flies is their eyes.” When the pods get real ripe, they fall on the ground and all the flies get out.”

  I knew my brother was telling the truth because, I had seen lots of flies on the fallen squashed figs. I had also seen fly guts before, soft, pink and sticky. Yep he was right, it really was fly guts and fly eyes. Those were not fruits at all they were “FLY PODS” “ARAGHHHH!!”

   Hmmm, I wonder if my grandpa knows about this? I ran inside and told grandpa what I had learned about the figs, but he denied it all.

  “Those are fig seeds, NOT FLY EYES!”

    Grandpa was fibbing to me, I just knew it. I knew my brother was telling the truth. I mean, I had seen all those flies with my own two eyes, crawling out of that figgy mess on the ground. “Oh my gawd, I have been eating flies.” I felt somehow sick and dizzy.

   So goes the Fable of Figs. I still love the taste of figs, and I think of my grandpa every time I see one, but as soon as I taste one and I crunch a single seed, I cannot finish eating it. There is something about that crunchy, hollow in the middle seed; I just know I am eating a fly eye.

Sherry Gail Heim

January 5, 2003

Copyright © Sherry Gail Heim 2003 

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Reviewed by Charlie 10/17/2007
When I was 6, my brother told me peas were cool to eat because they popped like zits in your mouth. I've never liked them since! When I lived in Peru, me and a friend spent 2 hours sitting up in a fig tree just eating figs--soooooo delicious, but our lips went numb from the skin. Now I know why. I'll have to warn my kids. --Charlie
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/7/2007
Ah kids and the things they come up with. Thanks for sharing the memory, Sherry. Love and peace,

Reviewed by Rhonda Galizia 5/16/2006
...this is a hoot! believe it or not, i also have a brother, Steve! he's 3 years younger, but about one foot he SEEMS OLDER!
and this is exactly the kind of thing he would have tried! thanks for the memory, Sherry. ~ rhonda
Reviewed by Miller Caldwell 5/10/2006
Dear Sherry Gail

Its only when we really love and cherish a person that we can have a whacky moment. Stevie's imagination was on top form and he shared it with you. That's brotherly love.
As for me, I love figs and always will. But maybe soon, its a story I can tell grandchildren all over again.
A great submission.
Reviewed by Tracey L. O' Very 4/7/2005
YUK! I hate when people do that but at least it has a good memory too. This is a great story and
my sincerest condolences for you for Steve.
Take care Sherry.
Loved this story turned my stomache a teense well more than a teense but still got a big smile from it! I'll never see a fig without thinking bout this.
Question I love(d) fig newtons Do they get rid of all that protein 1st?? Got 2 pkgs in the cupboard just bought 'em. OH NO!! (c:)
maybe the raccoons will like them!
Reviewed by Barbara Terry 3/2/2005
Thnx Sherry for sharing your love for your brother and grandpa, but not the figs (giggles). May the Lord be with you always, and at your side constantly. With much love, peace, & (((HUGS))) ... Barbie

"If I have to...Then I may as well be."
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 2/10/2005
Reviewed by Shawn Field 9/27/2004
Such a great tale of sibling love. I hate the figs lost out though.
Reviewed by Thomas Lanechanger 8/26/2004
Sherry, this remarkable short story just flooded my memory banks of how I teased one of my younger sisters when we were kids. I just spent this past Sunday with her eldest daughter teasing her like I did my sister and we howled all afternoon. This was a wonderful dedication, and its shows the importance of how siblings and family members are able to cherish special memories long after the event. It was a delight to read and thank you for sharing it.
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 8/21/2004
This reminds me of the relationship I have had with my brother. We would go out of our way to gross each other out. The results is l'll eat almost any thing and he just knows the flies are spying on him! LOL.
Reviewed by Jack Roberts 1/6/2003
Now I will never eat a fig!!! LOL Sherry this was a great story, the kind I like to read. I love reading the stories from peoples childhoods. Smoke Martin's "Turtle Shorts" is one of my favorites. Its great that we can look back and write of these wonderful times. I really enjoyed this.
Thank you,

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