Autumn has finally arrived, and my grandpa’s apple orchard is bustling with customers clad in brown jackets, jeans, and scarves. A hundred or so people run along the dirt paths of the orchard, placing apples into bags that my grandma had sewn herself. My grandpa takes pride in the fact that his orchard has been the hotspot of the fall season for many years. I take pride in the fact that I, being related to him, get to have all the free apples I want.
After struggling to find a parking spot, my friend Kai and I run up to my grandparents’ house, grabbing a bag each and admiring the pumpkins my younger cousins carved for them. One of them looks relatively like a face, and the others look like the kids cut random chunks out of the large orange fruit. I snicker at one in particular; my youngest cousin must have done it. There are still pumpkin chunks hanging from the inside on stringy threads.
“Welcome kiddos! Glad you could come today.”
My grandpa steps out of the front door, giving me a hug and waving to Kai. My grandma follows soon after, holding a dish which smells like warm apple and cinnamon.
“Take as many apples as you want. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make with them.”
He hands Kai and I some bags and directs us through the gate into his prized orchard. We weave through the narrow paths, avoiding the other guests as we search for The Perfect Tree™.
“Brrr, cold. You’d think it would be warmer considering it’s barely October,”
Kai complains. I shush him, but he isn’t wrong. Even I am shivering underneath my warm sweater as the harsh wind sweeps through the orchard. The guests duck and cover their heads after a particularly strong blast which sends apples falling from the branches.
“There she is. The best tree in the orchard.”
Finally I lay eyes on The Perfect Tree™, standing in the corner of the orchard in all its glory. I’ve picked apples from this same tree every other year when it has produced; it grows the reddest and sweetest apples I have ever tasted.
“Uh… that’s cool, but how are we going to get the apples? They’re all at the top of the tree.”
Crap. I guess The Perfect Tree™ isn’t so perfect after all. The others must have beat us to the lower hanging apples. I stare at the tree, thinking of a plan, but I’m too slow. Kai walks up to it and plants a foot on the trunk.
“...What are you doing?”
“What does it look like? I’m climbing it. Hold my bag, I’ll pick the apples and toss them down to you.”
I open my mouth to object, but Kai is already grasping one of the lower-hanging branches, swinging his leg up to straddle it as he reaches up to the next one. The tree isn’t huge; I worry that it won’t support a five-foot-ten boy with heavy feet.
“I don’t think this is a good idea. Are you sure it’ll hold you?”
Kai snorts, tossing down the first apple.
“I’m sure. I could sit up here and pick apples all day. Just trust me.”
The apples keep coming, one after the other. I’ve filled one bag already, and as he runs out of fruit Kai continues to climb. By this point he’s so far into the tree that I can’t see him.
“We have enough. Kai, come down!”
“Hold on. Get ready for this.”
I see the branches on the top half of the tree quiver, and I get even more nervous when I see the rest of the tree shake with it. Apples fall left and right, nearly hitting me as I rush to collect them.
“Kai! Stop! You’re only bruising them!”
The tree stops violently shaking, and I see a foot appear from amidst the orange leaves.
“Did you fill both bags?”
“Yes. You threw down enough apples to fill the bags of everyone here, idiot.”
Satisfied, Kai reaches his foot further down, but the tree rustles and I see it disappear back into the mass of leaves.
“Kai? You good up there?”
The response is muffled. I see his foot try to reach down again, but to no avail. I facepalm; he really got himself stuck in a tree.
“I really can’t take you anywhere, Kai.”
I rush up to the tree trunk, looking upwards, but I can’t see him very well. Only his black boot is visible, dangling down as he tries to find a foothold.
“Kai! Can you hear me?”
He shakes his foot, hopefully indicating yes. I hear a few muffled grunts from above as he struggles to hang on.
“I’m getting help. Please, keep holding on for just a bit longer!”
I begin leaving to get my grandpa, but I hear a shout from in the tree.
“No! I’ve got it- ungh- under control. Don’t worry.”
His foot finally finds a hold, but the bark chips off and he slips again. I start to slowly step away, not trusting that he has it ‘under control’, but I freeze when I hear the crack of a branch breaking.
I spin around just in time to see him falling to the ground, stirring up leaves as he makes contact. I immediately rush to his side, grabbing him.
“Are you okay?”
He smiles, sitting up with a grunt.
“I’m fine. Landed on apples.”
“I- Kai, that’s not a good landing!”
A couple people look our way, but only the ones who heard the crack come over to check in. Kai assures them that he’s fine, and that he hadn’t fallen from that far. When I examine the branch, however, I notice it was a pretty thin branch.
“Kai, you idiot, why’d you stand on a branch that thin?”
“I thought it could support me.”
I want to slap him, but I’m sure he’s already bruised in a couple of places. Instead I help him up, grabbing the apples and heading back to the house where my grandparents would help him get patched up.
“Do me a favor, okay?”
“Don’t tell them that I fell out of a tree. Say I got into a scuffle over a perfect apple or something.”
“Nope. Today will always be remembered as the day you fell out of a tree.”
Kai sighs as he realizes I’ll never let him go for this.
“Fine, but you’d better watch out next time. I might have to put you in a tree myself so you know how it feels!”
Happy October! :) I’m working on recovering from a severe anxiety crisis, so I haven’t had much time to write. I promise I’ll be more consistent in the future!