An Apple a Day – A short piece

Inspired by Sandeep Parmar’s whole poetry collection Eidolon.

She wakes up on her own, every morning, expecting her husband to be lying by her side. She strokes the pillow, as if stroking his white, wiry hair. She sits up, slips her veiny feet into plush, pink slippers and looks at the photo on her bedside table. It is twenty years old, she has brown locks hanging by her shoulders, and her husband is hugging her from behind, his arms wrapped around her.

She shuffles from the bedroom to the bathroom and drops her dressing gown to her ankles. She inspects herself in a lengthy mirror, as she does every morning. She wishes for spots, spots she would pop and would volcanically puss out. Instead, she counts her moles, which seem to be appearing more and more by the day lately. Then she will shower, allow the water to consume her. She imagines swimming in a deep ravine, never coming up for air, gills along her side. And then she steps out, the cold biting at her fragile toes.

It is then she will make her Earl Grey, no milk, one sugar. She usually doesn’t put her teeth in until after she has finished supping the tea, she likes the warmth to burn her gums. Then she feeds the snake, which has outlived her husband and came long before her three children. She watches the snake slither around its box, oddly the snake seems to age with her.

Then her mobile rings, and she has trouble answering it. She spends fifteen minutes on the phone to her eldest son, Cain, then fifteen talking to her youngest son, Seth. Afterward, she’ll shed a few tears over her late son, Abel, who was taken from her in such a tragic incident, fifteen bloody incidents to his chest to be exact.

Then she will leave the house and take a walk into the town. First she will stop at the florist, and the keeper will shout her name ‘Eve!’ as she enters. ‘I have prepared the most beautiful flowers for you this morning!’ the beefy man hands her over a bouquet of delightful flowers, some of them so young they haven’t even splayed open yet. She thanks the man and continues on her way.

She stops briefly at the bakery, asks for a gingerbread man, and the red-head woman behind the counter slips two into her paper bag, gives her a wink and sends her on her way.

Her next stop would usually be the fruit and veg shop, just on the corner where it has been for the last fifty years. But upon her arrival, it’s closed. A note on the door, in scrawled writing advises that customers should ‘find elsewhere to shop for their fruit and veg, due to unforeseen circumstances’. She knew the woman that owned this shop, Alisa, and has known her since primary school. She hates to think that something dreadful has happened, but these days, she can’t make it past her morning Earl Grey to find out someone she knew has passed.

So she has to walk to Tesco, and navigate her way through the maze of aisles, shelves and counters. When she reaches the apples, she notices they have no Granny Smiths left. She starts crying and shouting at the staff, she can’t take any old apple, it has to be a Granny Smith. Fortunately, it’s still only early, so they hadn’t moved all the stock from the back quite yet and they bring her out a gorgeous, green apple.

Then she catches the bus and eats her gingerbread men. She likes having these, because she can pop out her teeth and such them until they flake down her throat in lumps. She watches the same scenes from the windows blur into one. She watches the same people, perform the same acts day after day after day. She wonders if people watch her like this, if people are watching her right now.

When she reaches her destination, she scrapes up yesterday’s still alive flowers and bruised apple, crushing them into her tote bag. It’s a warm day, and she’s offered shade by the tree that towers over he husband’s grave. She lets him know what’s going on in their children’s lives, about Alisa’s fruit and veg shop, the terrible service at Tesco, how she has five new moles today (possibly a record) and that she has brought him a new apple.

She stays by the arched stone until the ignorant night looms above, swallowing the sun like prey. She stands herself up, her legs almost crumbling. She wishes him a good night and assures him, as she does every night, that she’ll be back the next day, and the day after that and the day after that. She will be back every day, until God decides otherwise and reunites her with her precious Adam.

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