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The Last Apple

The Last Apple
Eva Maltby

The woman lifted the apple from the ground in evident dismay. Half rotten, oozing something sticky and yellow from the underbelly. There was a furious silence, a slow walk back up to the house and then a rupture of evil from the mouth of a hellhound that echoed down the path, past the boulders and pebbles, over the stream and right back to the orchard where it all began. The last apple was gone, rotten to the seeds and wrinkled more than Grandfather on a Sunday afternoon. The last apple, the last gold coin, the last crunch, pie, slice, crumble, tart, snack, juice – the last apple.
But despite this, the orchard, for all its chaos causing, sat peacefully in the last of the September sun. The branches occasionally dropping the last of their pearly garments to make themselves brown socks to stand in on the grass. The trunks, the bustling highways of ants and other insects, strong and forever in the soil, giving comfort to the boy who lay against one there in the late rays of the day. The boy spent most of his time in the legion of leaves, far away from his mother’s cries and father’s eyes and the discomfort he felt when he was near them.
The boy had known about the last apple before his mother. He had known about the last apple before the first apple. He had known about the last apple for his whole entire life, for every apple that fell on every day of every year, for all the time that he was able to look at and be in and feel the orchard, he had known about the last apple. There was a lot of thinking done about what would happen after the last apple fell, most of it done in the presence of the last apple itself or in the orchard somewhere, for it was a vast and plentiful field of trees.
In the east corner of the orchard was the boy’s library. A sun filled covert of heaving shelves and tumbling stacks of worded trees. Hung over branches, suspended overhead were lanterns filled with candles that were lit when night rose. The boy himself was fair-haired, tall and slender but not unhealthy in form. His eyes, grey at birth, soon became the colour of the sky he looked upon each day. With those eyes he learnt to practice the art of secrecy.
With those eyes he read every word he could find and then some. His library was a smugglers’ cave, filled with things that were not his. Every book was stolen, every pen was nicked, every piece of paper taken from its rightful and honest owner and used by the boy on the problem of the last apple.