[Story] Story a Week 28 – Apple

[[ The horror convention that I went to last summer is happening next week. I’m bummed that I’m not able to go this year, but I am excited to be working toward my goal to write some more in that genre. My word this week was “apple”, and I wondered if I could make a scary story about that. ]]

Noah steered his scooter down Hickory Lane, kicking the pavement to work up speed. Hickory was the best for riding, because it had an incline that was enough to get you going fast, but not big enough to be scary. You did have to keep to the center of the street, though, because the edges were bumpy from roots growing out into the pavement. There was also one spot where they’d patched a hole and the pavement wasn’t completely flat, if you hit it the wrong way or going too fast, you’d be in for a nasty spill and probably some scrapes. And then he’d have to explain why he was riding all the way over on Hickory to his mom.

The other thing was Mrs. Waller’s house. It was huge and old-looking, the paint weathered and some of the shingles missing off the roof. The yard was overgrown and dotted with weeds, and the whole place had a faded, tired look about it. Two cars, just as old-looking, stood in the driveway, but they hadn’t been driven in a very long time. Grass grow up under the tires and through the cracks in the driveway’s pavement. Noah had never seen Mrs. Waller drive either of them, though he did see her often walking along the sidewalk picking up cans. This afternoon it looked as though she was returning from the grocery store; she carried an assortment of mis-matched bags in both arms. They all looked to be ones she had made herself, either with yarn or cloth, one seemed to be denim from an old pair of jeans. Mrs. Waller walked slowly and deliberately down the shaded sidewalk, shuffling at an impossibly slow pace. Noah stuck his foot out and swung his scooter around, about to search for another place to ride. Though he didn’t really believe his friends’ insistence that Mrs. Waller was a witch, he did feel somehow uncomfortable watching her struggle.

As if sensing his hesitation, a jar tumbled out of a purple yarn bag and crashed on the sidewalk. Mrs. Waller made a little cry of surprise, and then dismay, seeing the smashed jar and its contents seeping out. What if that had been his own grandma needing help? Noah reminded himself. He propped his scooter against a tree and ran over to Mrs. Waller. “Let me get some of those,” he offered, gesturing toward the bags.

“Oh,” said Mrs. Waller, and her expression brightened immediately. “Bless you. They never seem so heavy until I start walking,” she said, handing a couple of the bags over to Noah. She gave the broken jar another forlorn look.

“We’ll pick that up after the rest is inside,” Noah suggested. He couldn’t help but sneak a glance into the bags he was holding. Did witches eat regular food, or frogs and stuff? Of course it was just regular food, for the most part. There were some powders and a strange dark juice without a label, but the rest of it was normal things. He looked in again as Mrs. Waller searched her purse for her house key. An apple rested in the top of one of the bags — just one apple, not in a bag either. Noah’s mother often bought them for his lunches, the mushy red kind that always got bruises. Usually he hid them in the trash can at school, though sometimes he would huck them over a fence as he was walking home. Very rarely did he eat them, but this apple seemed to beg to be eaten. It was huge, first of all, probably about as large as three of his fists. The skin was gleaming and translucent, a pale green fading to yellow, and one side was pink as if the apple was blushing. He could smell it, too, a sweet honey scent that made his mouth water. It was probably the best apple he’d ever seen. Noah considered asking where Mrs. Waller had bought it.

Finally she jiggled the door open, and Noah set the bags down on the counter. He opened cupboards where she pointed and put the things away. He didn’t ask what the weird powder or juice was, he figured they were some kind of old people thing. His own grandmother took about fifty different kinds of vitamins every day. He couldn’t help but wonder about the apple, though.

“Where should I put this?” he asked, not daring to touch it.

Mrs. Waller smiled, the lines around her eyes crinkling. “It looks good, doesn’t it?” Noah nodded. “You know, it is said that the fruit Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was an apple.”

He vaguely remembered this story from when he’d had to go to Sunday school. Moreso, he remembered seeing the picture that the teacher had held up, marveling at the menace of the snake, the way it coiled around the branches of the tree. Also, both the people had been naked. They had leaves covering their things, but the woman’s boobs were showing. Noah couldn’t believe they’d shown that to a bunch of kids.

“You take it, dear,” Mrs. Waller said. “As a reward.”

Normally, he thought old ladies were supposed to give out candy. That’s how it went on the commercials anyway. His grandma usually gave him jelly beans, and he used to hunt in her purse for them. But this apple seemed even better, more special than candy. He picked it up carefully — it was even heavier than it looked, and he wasn’t quite sure how he’d carry it all the way home with his scooter at the same time. He’d just have to eat it on the way. “Thanks,” Noah remembered to say, as he trotted out the door.

Noah felt like he had to unhinge his jaw like a snake to get his mouth around a bite, but eventually he was able. The juice, cool and sweet, ran down his chin and over his fingers. He ate another bite, then another, as he walked back toward the corner, pulling his scooter alongside. A scene flashed before his vision, like an extremely vivid dream, except Noah was awake. It appeared and then vanished so quickly that he hardly had time to process what he had seen. There was a quick dash of red, a screech of car tires, and a crash. Noah stood for a moment, blinking. The street was empty. So what had he seen? Probably best not to tell anyone about it, he figured. Otherwise they’d probably hook wires up to his brain and do a lot of tests, or something. He turned the corner onto Third Street, where a few of the other neighborhood kids were playing. Jacob had a red shirt on. Noah’s face paled, but it was already too late. The car skidded around the corner, striking Jacob with a sickening crunch of bone and glass. Noah saw him disappear beneath the car’s body. He forgot the apple and his scooter, running over to see if the other kid was okay, but the driver was telling him to stay back. Some of the other kids were already calling 911 on their phones.

He knew he should have stayed, to be a witness, but Noah fled across the lawns toward his house. He was sure that he was going to throw up. Another flash filled his vision, and he stumbled and fell into a neighbor’s rock garden. Thick black smoke poured into the air, as flames licked the side of a house. His house. As soon as it had appeared, the vision was gone again, but the sound of approaching sirens split the air.

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