The Apple

Reflection by Karen Hogan //

The Apple by Bradon Anderson //

I got home today, checking the post and retrieved a letter addressed to me. Inside was an image of an apple tree, and I knew immediately the story behind it.
It must have been about a decade ago when this story begins. I had purchased an apple and treated it no differently than any other apple I had used before, except this one was of astonishing beauty. In fact, I recognized the red color was so vibrant that I was reluctant to devour it. Instead I placed it on the table and let the glow of the natural sunlight highlight its edges and hide its imperfections. For a while I didn’t realize there were any. It was a typical red apple and I had had many before.
Because of my obsession, I toyed with the apple, teasing it now and then where it retained my touch, but constantly admiring its beauty. It became a sort of pet for me and thus, I couldn’t eat it, but I still treated it like any other possession.
Then, after a while, I started to notice unclean things about it. No longer was it as vibrant as I remembered. Originally, it was the sin of lust and seduction that lured to me, but now I was constantly staring at the small bruises that looked like the shape of my hand and had developed from my care. Its mush began to peel. I was appalled. I was reminded of the original sin committed by Eve and her treason to mankind by being seduced by the fruit. I was not going to be a part of it.
So there it sat, but no longer on a pedestal. Now it was tucked away on the countertop, faced in peculiar positions to hide the bruises that started to besiege it. And I began to hate it. A poisoned apple almost killed Snow White and I became bitter knowing that the longer it stayed in this house, the more destructive it would be to me.
Some mornings I would enter the kitchen and it seemed to be greeting me with a glint of shine reflecting from the rising sun. It was begging for my attention. Most mornings it appeared lonely and depressed. I hated owning it and wanted nothing more to do with it, but couldn’t let it go. I did the minimum to care for it, knowing it could use more, but I didn’t want it to expect much from me. In a way, it knew me better than I knew myself and I would wait until it was rotten before getting rid of it. I couldn’t allow it to win even though it was dictating my life.
It fumed me. The idea of it no longer caressed me, but scarred me. The bruises, the small decaying holes that pinned it surface, even the wilting stem infuriated me. I loved it so much; I couldn’t bear to let it go. I owned it. It was mine.
Then one day, I was out of food. Tempted by what little beauty it had left, I picked it up to examine it’s exterior. It had deteriorated to a point that it looked rotten. It decayed. I set it down thinking it was time to let it go and get a replacement, but still I couldn’t even do that. This apple was as dependent upon me as I was to her. I couldn’t get rid of the stupid, little shit and I was angry. But then I also felt guilty and ashamed for wanting to get rid of her.
Then a friend came by. He was a savior. As a good friend, I offered him all the food I had, which was none, with the exception of my apple. It was a lame gesture. I wasn’t expecting the response I got though. He gently picked it up, cared for the shape, and gently rubbed it against his skin. It was as if the apple, my apple, enjoyed how he fondled her. I hated him for that.
I was at the brink of embarrassment watching their interaction with each other. Was this the way Adam felt when he sunk his teeth into the fruit and sucked the juices through his lips? That was my apple, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. It belonged to me. I had hid its bruises and made it beautiful every day and even though I wasn’t able to express what she meant to me, I am sure she knew. There was no way it couldn’t appreciate the way I cared for it.
Now this stranger, this intruder felt the imperfections and still treated it like a queen. He cut away the blemishes and exposed a lighter tone underneath the red skin. It was a rebirth and I had had enough. I couldn’t watch as he bathed it under the faucet and smiled, delighted by its ripened tone.
I could hear him sink his teeth into the fruit and gently tear away from the rest of the apple. It sounded barbaric and hideous and I expected the pain would be heard by the whole world, but I was wrong. The apple seemed to enjoy it and my jealousy fumed to hear their sensual interaction.
I had to leave the room. I was ashamed to be there. As I passed a reflected surface I saw how red I was in the face. My anger consumed me. How dare this apple give herself away so willingly when it knew it belonged to me? I owned it. It was my possession and now it was in the middle of a physical act with an impostor I once considered my friend. I wanted to vomit. What a harlot!
My buddy left and I couldn’t wait for him to be gone. As soon as the door shut, I ran into the kitchen and cleaned myself of that poison. Her scent was all over. I wiped everything down, sprayed it with disinfectant, and couldn’t wait to replace it with something new.
Tossing the rest of her memories aside, I realized everything about her was missing. There were no more remnants of her.
I did everything to forget her. I desired more apples that resembled this one, but nothing compared. No matter the size, style, color, or brand, I still saw that apple in every other one. I was glad to be rid of her. I loved her and wanted her back. No, I hated her and was finally pleased. Torn by my afflictions, it was better that she was gone. For a long time I missed her.
That was years ago, and I’ve not been able to look at apples in the same way since. They disgust me now, even though I can’t live without them, which disgusts me even more. So many have come and gone in my life. I’ve always been the one in control. With the exception of that one, no one has affected me. They all been useless as far as I am concerned. However, I do wonder how it tasted? Was it as good as it appeared? Why did I give it up?
The phantom haunts me. No apple has been as vibrant or as beautiful and lovely as this one, even though several have rested in her place on the table. I don’t look at that apple as one on the pedestal, but notice where she belonged – tucked deep into the counter top. I still randomly search for it there in the shadows, knowing it had betrayed me.
Now I hold a card of a tree, a much stronger entity than just the fragile apple. I flipped the card around and read the inscription addressed to me.
Like the roots of this tree interwoven in the earth, our love now embraces each other. I cannot express the amount of gratitude for introducing us. In all reality, I didn’t think we would make it. The scars and bruises she retained seemed permanent. And although minor scars remain, she has grown so powerful. I love and respect her every day. She is my muse. The apple was planted and a year later a stem unearthed. I stare amazed at this tree every day and felt the desire to share it with you. Her beauty has transformed into something more lasting and ever more powerful. This healthy tree will reproduce for generations.
I could never again affect it. I was pleased with the knowledge that I once possessed it. I tainted it and if it weren’t for me... I don’t need someone telling me how to treat what I own. I won’t be influenced by her perceived success. I’m off to get another apple.