Diane D. Gillette

Rotten Apple

Woman with Apple by Boris Grigoriev

They walk through the orchard behind her parents’ house and from time to time she picks up a fallen apple, its skin bruised and punctured and she hurls it at the side of the barn where they watch flesh explode into juicy bits, some of which cling to the wall where they slowly ride rivers of juice to the ground.

“These apples used to be so delicious,” she tells him.  “My mother won awards for the pies she baked with them.  Famous in three counties. Such a wholesome life we lived.”

She doesn’t look at him when she talks.  He watches another apple explode against the barn.

“What happened?” he asks.

“I don’t know.  The trees just started producing shit, is all.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

She turns to look at him, an apple clutched so tightly in her hand, he’s afraid she is about to throw it at him.

“No, I don’t know what you mean.”

“Com’on.  The way you shot out of the house while everyone was toasting the memory of your uncle?  A little weird.”

She turns and launches the apple in her hand.  It falls short of her target.  “I hate this fucking orchard.”

“Then why’d you run here?”

“Because my sainted uncle is dead.  This is the last place I saw him, you know.”

He reaches for her, tries to put his arm around her shoulders and pull her to him, but she shrugs him off.

“You finally got to meet my family.  Don’t worry.  They love you, I can tell.”

“Really?  Your dad even criticized the way I buttered my roll at dinner last night.”

“He has an odd way of showing affection, is all.  The whole damn family does.”

“How come you never talk about your uncle?”  he asks as he plucks an apple from the tree above and rolls it between his palms.  Firm and smooth.  It reminds him of her beautiful, freckled shoulders when she emerges damp and warm from the shower. “I didn’t even know you had an uncle until your mom called and told you the news.”

She responds by hurling another apple, and he looks at the one in his hand. He bites into it as gentle as he bites when they make love. The flesh is intensely sweet and a bit of juice dribbles down his chin.  He sees she is watching.

“You should go home.  I don’t want you here anymore.  I shouldn’t have brought you.”  She turns her back on him.  Another apple explodes against the barn.


About the writer:
Diane D. Gillette lives, writes, and teaches in Chicago. She is a founding editor at Cat on a Leash Review. Her work has appeared in over 40 literary venues including the Saturday Evening Post and Maine Review.

Image: Woman with Apple by Boris Grigoriev (1886-1939). Unknown medium. Unknown size. By 1939. Public domain.