Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The apple

"Look!  There!"  He pointed to the movement in the grass.  The blades bent and rustled to mark the course.

She saw it:  first, the triangular head that rose up above the grass, the lightning-flicker tongue that darted in and out quick as the eye.  Then, the sleek-muscled scaly red-and-black body, passing quickly like a wisp of breeze.  Even as she watched, the head lowered and the creature darted forward, slipping beneath the wall.  A deft flick of tail, like the stiff dance of conductor's baton, and it was gone.  Under the wall and into the garden.

"Beautiful," she said.  "Don't you think?"

He looked uneasy.  "Beautiful.  Maybe deadly."

And then, once again, it was the two of them, standing outside the gate.

"Funny that we meet here, after all this time," she said.  She bent her head downward, but she kept her eyes on his face.

He pulled at his lower lip, peering through the gate into the garden.  The vegetation had outgrown any thing like order.  No neatly kept rows, no tended plots.  More a jungle than a garden.  "I come here sometimes," he said.  "I don't know why."

"It was a lovely garden..." she said, "...back then."

He nodded.  "It was a beautiful season... short, but glorious."

He paused on the edge of a question.

She answered it anyway.  "It's so far overgrown, now.  It can't ever be what it was."

They were silent for a while.  Then, he said, "Do you remember that apple tree that grew near the back wall?"

She closed her eyes and smiled.  "Those were the best apples I can ever remember."

They stood quietly for a long moment. 

"Well, I suppose I should be getting home," he said.

"Me, too," she replied.

They turned away from each other, away from the garden gate.

"But I... I'm hungry."  His heart was in his throat.

A quick eternity.  Then, they each turned half a turn, and peered into the darkness of the garden, imagining the apple.

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