I cut the apple in two at the equator and hold each blanched hemisphere in my bleached palm. The nutbrown pips form a pentagram at the core, tips pointing towards the red rimed circumference like it’s the edge of the world. Here there be dragons.
When she arrives at the tree he’s waiting for her, just like she knew he would be.
I take the apple halves and slice them into papery thins on the mandolin, holding each up to the light, peering at their stained-glass opacity, the azure sky, star-shaped, fading to cornflower through the cloudy flesh.
She can see the sharp tip of his tongue between his lips, smell desire evaporating from his skin. The air is humid, viscous. She shivers under his hooded gaze.
I place each apple slice onto parchment, lining them up like plump, middle-aged women at the WI, brush them with melted butter until each slice glistens with an oily sheen. I sprinkle brown sugar across them, crystalline peaks soaring towards the heavens.
He points to the fruit above them, spherical, shiny, scarlet. I’ll get it for you, he says and she nods as he begins to climb. His flesh is sinuous as he plucks the fruit, returns, holds it out to her. The scent is overripe and dangerous. It penetrates her whole being, consumes her. She cannot help but take a bite.
The oven is already warmed, and the apple slices begin to curl and crisp quickly. The sugar melts, bronzing them suntanned. Sweet and sour fills the kitchen, and my mouth oozes with anticipation.
The fruit bursts and the juices cover her lips, her chin, and then he’s licking it from her, kissing, biting, devouring, and she’s already fallen, already lost, as they come together, long beyond any consequence or duty or faith.
The timer trills and I remove the apples from the oven, place them on a wire to cool. Each star now edged with caramel, each thin brittle and curved. I’d like to taste one, but know they’re too hot, will burn. The swelling within my stomach twists expectantly. I didn’t imagine I’d have to cultivate it alone.
Afterwards she walks home, juices sticky between her thighs, running down her legs; his seed quickening and multiplying within her.
Maria Thomas is a middle-aged, apple-shaped mum of two. She has work in various publications and was shortlisted in the 2022 Oxford Flash Fiction competition and a finalist in the London Independent Story Prize (LISP) 2022. Maria won Free Flash Fiction’s Competition 13 and Retreat West’s April 2022 Micro competition. She was also a runner up in their AMOK themed quarterly flash comp, and took second place in Propelling Pencil 2022. She can be found on Twitter as @AppleWriter.
photo by Andreas Bodemer (via unsplash)