What Bears Know

Bears know a thing or two about garbage: where to find it, how to release locks and open doors or take a dumpster in hand and back out of the parking lot, the campsite, the alley. They know what is waste and what is not. They know what to leave and what to carry.
I once saw a bear take apart a garbage bag. She split it open and sifted the contents. She made piles—wrappers, Ziploc bags, peels, cans. In the end, she took a cantaloupe rind. It was a perfect bowl, hollowed out by the silver melon baller handed down from my mother’s mother’s mother.
That woman, my great grandmother, survived the Titanic. She took a lifeboat and filled it with herself, her servant, and the silver service. She watched the ship stand in the water. She watched the propellers hang in the air and then disappear. She watched the ocean roil with the force of the sinking ship. She watched the waters become still and suddenly alive again with hundreds of bodies treading water. She listened to the people crying for help. And later, she listened to their silence.
My grandmother gave that melon baller to my mother on the day of her first wedding. It had an Irish love knot wrought into the handle. I used to run my fingers over the braided lines. I liked to press the metal into the space between nail bed and nail.
That melon baller gutted casabas and watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews—things domestic and exotic, fruitful and ripe.
I lost it between Montana and Mississippi, between husband one and husband two, between this life and the next. The women in my family do not know. I have never purchased another.

Tayler Heuston, California-native, holds an MFA in fiction writing from North Carolina State University. She is the winner of the 2015 Kore Press Short Fiction Award. Her fiction has appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Spectrum, and is forthcoming in At Length Magazine. She lives in Raleigh, NC.