The Intrinsic Melancholy of Loving Someone:
Or How to Cut a Mango

Step 1:

Find a ripe mango. When you hold it in your hand, it should be mostly firm with a slight give when you squeeze it. Colors are not fully indicative of ripeness: pay attention to smell and size.

Step 2:

Carefully slice the top of the mango to remove the woody stem. Then circle the core of the mango, dividing the fruit in two halves. Remember: A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one; an unsharpened blade is far more likely to slip. Be precise and sure of your cuts. Stay focused. The smell and weight of the mango should ground you.

Step 3:

As you refocus on the sweet smell in the air and the cold skin in your hand, realize you can’t remember what to do after this. Put down your mango, look up “how to cut a mango” on your phone, and search for a sharper knife.

Step 4:

Listen for your person’s laughter from behind you and close the knife drawer as you turn to them. “What is this,” she asks, pointing to the article you pulled up on your phone. As you stutter a defense, watch her pick up the knife you left on the cutting board and slice a wedge from one of the cuts you already made. Watch her hands as she scores it for you, knife gently sliding through vibrant yellow-orange flesh and stopping before it pierces the skin encompassing it. She puts the knife down on the cutting board and uses her thumbs to invert the skin—scored flesh turning outwards. Her fingers pinch a cube in the center. She looks over at you, placing a piece on her tongue, and grinning as if she hadn’t just done you a favor.

Step 5:

Shoo her away from the cutting board; you don’t want her to cut the whole thing for you, and she has her own meal to prepare. Hold the knife in your hand again as she resumes her own task. As you dig the knife into the next part of the mango, realize you still don’t know what you are doing. When you look over at your person, her back is turned to you: She is separate now, focused on her own task.

Step 6:

Remember the way her wrist angled into the cut and the way her other hand cradled the opposite side of the fruit. Poorly mimic this, cutting awkward wedges around the core. They will be either too thin, too small, or too uneven.

Step 7:

Look down at the slices of mango scattered across your cutting board. Realize that you can never look at your favorite fruit the same way again. Realize that you will always remember her hand wrapped around a sweet sunset of red, orange, and yellow. Realize that even though you still don’t understand how to cut a mango on your own, you will always remember the way she turned her body toward you, silent in her focus but dutiful in her demonstrations.

Step 8:

Regret not letting her cut the rest of the mango for you, especially after you realize you never changed out your knife. You cut yourself. Take care to not get any blood on the cutting board, the mango, or the ground. Rinse your wound with soap and water.

Step 9:

When your person offers you a Band-Aid and a piece of fruit for your efforts, bandage your cut and eat your mango. In this moment, the fruit is both of yours to share; repay her with the mango pit lying on the cutting board, which she happily takes and cleans the leftover flesh from. Eat in tandem—your person appreciative of your offering, and you, grateful for her help. You are together.

Step 10:

Realize: this will not be forever. She will teach you things that will be a part of you for the rest of your life. She will change you in ways you will not notice until she has left. They are so different, infinitely more capable, set on a path temporarily intertwined with your own. You understand that their impact on you will last your lifetime, but your time together will be short. Fleeting. Your paths will diverge soon. The taste of sweetness will sit on your tongue for only a moment before fading. The cut on your hand will heal. The hand you hold will slip away. But in this moment—standing in the kitchen—you are in the same place, the same point of time, and on the same path, your sticky fingers interlaced over the counter.

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