From this Sunday’s NY Times Magazine:

He looked into his paper bag and then began to tell me how he met his wife. He had recently returned from London. It was one of those hot summer days when the clouds ripen and burst. He and his niece took cover under an old shelter near where we were sitting. Restored now — but gated and locked so vagrants can’t make it their home — it’s a symbol of a quaint era when conductors, not computers, collected fares, and trams were rattling trolleys rather than moving billboards.

His niece, he said, was reading from one of the “Victoria Plum” children’s books when a nurse leaned forward. “My name is Victoria because my mother craved Victoria plums when having me,” she told the girl. “Unlike the fairy in your book, I don’t live in a tree. But I do have her curly hair.” The niece giggled. The man realized he had seen Victoria before, near the hospital, around the corner. He thought she hadn’t noticed him, but she had, and that was her way of introduction. They spent the remainder of the afternoon together and never parted after that.

When the man pointed to the Orion constellation and started joining the dots I began to understand the playful nature of his relationship with his wife. But at a certain point, I realized he was talking about her in the past. “It is from February to May that I miss her most,” he said. “Our summer and autumn of falling in love, when Victoria plums are in season.

– excerpted from The Plum Eater

plumsIllustration by Melinda Josie

More on the illustrator can be found here