by Michele Habel-Coffey
I pulled the stubborn ass along the fence line with its jagged, barbed blooms in a perfect vertical line every so-many feet. The grey beast half-fought and half-submitted. It knew the carrots were waiting.
But it was the farmer’s place next to us that was the test. That old apple tree with its ripened, tart apples glistening with fresh raindrops, some dripping, some holding their teardrop shapes and reflecting the sunlight.
Raphael wanted an apple. He stopped. He dug in. He brayed and he bucked and he dug in.
I starred at the apples on the ground. Dozens of them. They were just in front of me but they were on the very outmost edge of David’s property, right at the fence where it met mine.
What the hell. The apples were going to rot there on the ground. It wasn’t that though. For weeks now I’d been eyeing the perfect specimen growing midway up, at the widest breadth of the old tree. It was just barely ripe and saturated in a cold, morning rain.
“Ah Evie”, I thought to myself, it’s not stealing if you take something no-one else wants. Fools…, they miss the treasure. Besides, if you only eat it yourself, what’s the harm.
I tied Raphael to the fence and I jumped over a little high; it hurt my knees when I landed. Last time I’d torn open my favorite jeans and they still bore the patch. I didn’t want to repeat it.
No snakes today. I was clear.
I quickly bent and grabbed three or four good looking groundlings and threw them over the fence to Raphael, knowing it would keep him content and occupied.
I glared at the glistening apple. I was going to pick it. I was going to taste it. Just how…
The lower part of the trunk split grandly into two bulky, rigid sides of a U-shaped under-arch. I could still do this. I grabbed at the secondary branches and I made the climb.
I reached for the apple and I ripped it from its stem. It gave willingly. I put it in my mouth and bit down lightly, securing the apple for the descent from the tree.
Raphael was still grazing contentedly on the apples I’d procured from earthy floor. I jumped back over the fence and I bit down hard, tearing the perfect apple. Its tart juices cleansed my palette and filled my senses, like a quick autumn breeze haunted by winter’s close chase.
It was as good as I’d imagined.