Submitted into Contest #63 in response to: Write about two characters going apple picking.... view prompt


Drama Mystery High School

Apparently, Michael was seeing things. 

At least, that was one of the many rumours about him going around Cloverlawn Collegiate. One student’s mother, who had a psychology degree, informed him that Michael had taken so much LSD, he suffered a mental lapse and had experienced hallucinations and severe delusions ever since. Another person heard that Michael had attempted suicide, and then prescribed mood stabilizers so heavy that he had lost grips with reality. 

Some blamed his parents who were both big city lawyers and presumably distant, While still, many people assumed he was simply another troubled teenager looking for attention. But, nobody was entirely sure, and nobody cared enough to confirm any of the rumours. 

“I heard him talking to himself the other day” Shayla announced to her cafeteria gossip circle one Wednesday in October. 

The others in the circle all snuck glances over at Michael, alone in a corner of the lunch room—headphones on, rocking back and forth, slugging a soda—and then their eyes all fell upon Jessica. Jessica looked back at them with a sheepish look, and as she sipped her green tea, she began to feel like a cowering animal. 

“What? Why are you looking at me?”

She asked, lowering the steaming cup from her lips. 

“Well, come on,” said Carl. 

“He’s your ex...”

“Oh, please...”

“It’s already been two months.”

Said Jessica. 

“He’s not my responsibility anymore.”

“That’s not a long time...” said Katie

“Are you kidding?”

Said Jessica.

“I’ve already started dating someone else. Life goes on. I don’t get why people are always dwelling in the past...”

“Wait. Did you just say you’re dating someone else?” 

Shayla asked, eyes bulging, nearly jumping out of her seat. 

Meanwhile, Michael sat with his headphones on, bobbing his head, and between sips of his soda- he had been experimenting with a soda only diet for the past few days - frantically sketching and writing cryptic lines in an already destroyed notebook he had recently been seen carrying around. 

It took every impulse for him to refrain from looking back at Jessica, who he well knew was sitting at approximately his 7 o clock radius. 

“So whose the new guy you're seeing, Jessica? Is it Dean?”

Carl asked, tittering to himself. 

“Hey, are you guys up for a movie Thursday?”

Phoebe interrupted. 

They ignored her. 

Michael waited until lunch was over to make his way to his spot in front of the school and smoke the cigarettes he had procured from his father’s underwear drawer. Once the bell rang He walked through the hoards of students—draped in his leather coat, ripped jeans and sneakers and with his head down—averting the eyes and all the suspicious glances of the others as they filed through the hallways to their lockers, and to their classes. 

“Test me. Test, test, Test Meat”

Michael said under his breath, just loud enough for those nearby to hear him. 

“Walk straight ahead, Doll Steak. Walk straight ahead. Stiff upper lip. Cheese and rice. Cheese Rice and Coca Cola. CHRISTBAIT RISE!”

His voice erupted.

He didn’t pay any heed to the occasional strange glances he received, and for the most part, no one else paid him much attention, either

“Think out loud. Big white cloud. Think out loud. SLIP IT IN”

He said pushing the door open to the bitter fall air. 

“One by one by one. Every wall. Thank you, Big strong boss. Jah, Almighty! DESTROY...Big business monkey. Big monkey cheese. Big bone lick! Big bell ringing. Big iron door. Clang, clang, clang.”

His hands shook as he smoked. 

“Prisons. Metal Boxes. Stare at the wall. Vomit nostalgia!”

He coughed as the words fell out his mouth. 

“Pain and Colour. Pain. Colour. Blurry, blurry Lurid fury. Hurry! KEROSENE! Praise Jah!”

Jeffery and Delilah, lifelong friends of his, passed by crossing the street back to school from Gio’s pizzeria. 


Jeff said with a wave. 

“Stick me! Set me on fire! Kerosene!”

Michael muttered as he turned his back. 

“You’re one of them. Them. Them. Them. BLACKOUT”

He said, growling.

Jeff walked away whispering in Delilah's ear. 

“Stinking breath, cheap sacrifice weakling...”

He went on. 

“Them. Them. Them.” 

Said Michael, flicking his cigarette. 

And with a tap of his foot he returned into the school. 

“War crying Cattle-pig crawling pissants! Ha, ha, ha. Pigs, Cheap, cheap, cheap pigs. the sheep are dead. dead dead dead. Oh, so dead”

Michael announced as he walked into history class during the middle of the lesson. 

Ms Policini eyeballed him as he walked in and then turned back to the rest of the class. 

The students all kept their eyes from him, but some groans could be heard. 

“Surprised the smoke alarm isn’t going Off.”

She said after Michael had found his seat.

“You smell this guy walking in? Must be wearing that new Dolce and Gabana designer ‘ash tray’ fragrance.”

Some of the class laughed, while others groaned with impatience, or yawned with boredom. Ms Policini continued the lesson while Michael sat in the back, progressively getting louder with his toreutic outbursts. 

“Forget it, Forget it! Satan! Satan! Devil town! Sick, sick, sick sick ol' sick city.”

Michael said bobbing his head. 

"Big Strong Boss! Big business monkey. Big monkey cheese. Big bone lick! Big bell ringing. Big iron door. Clang, clang, clang. THANK YOU!”

Meanwhile Ms Policini continued on with the lesson. 

“Mesopotamia was located between the Euraphtes and Tigris rivers, which is how it got the Greeek name...”

“Nevermind, nevermind, oh well. Well oh well oh well. Nevermind! RIDE THE TIGER.”

Michael grew louder 

“You wouldn’t understand anyway.”

He concluded. 

Ms Policini stopped for a moment, annoyed, before continuing. 

The class stayed quiet and no one bothered to look in michaels direction, ignoring him as much as humanly possible. 

“It was in Mesopotamia where...”

“Communism and tooth decay! DEBASER!”

“...Copper was first fabricated...”

Ms Policini went on, as Michael grew louder.

“No one comes in. Shuttup! Shuttup! Stop, Shuttup!”

Ms Policini bit her tongue and tried to continue. 

“Stop. Stoppit! Shuttup! No one comes in. STAY OUT”

“It was in this region where the ancient Sumerians...” 

“Cold, cold, cold, gold fingers. Gold cold fingers!”

Ms Policini struggled to continue. The students all looked at eachother confused and annoyed, wondering how long the act would go on.

“Give me your hand...”

Michael said taking a deep breath. 

“I’ll bite it off! Arghhggghhhhhh!”

The screaming sent a tremor through the class. Miss Policini attempted to continue going on for a moment. 

“The first record of...”

And then her face reddened. 'Enough was enough', she decided. She’d had it. 

“Okay. You, uh, what’s your name...”

“Michael...” said Lauren, a girl wearing glasses, sitting adjacent to him


Michael looked up. 

“Aye, Calypso! Aye.”

“Yeah, you, psycho boy.”

Some students snickered. Others yawned. 

“Put it on my tongue.”

“I don’t know what the hell youre saying...”

Said ms Policini. 

“Flex your MUSCLES!”

Said Michael. 

“I’ve already tried telling the office to talk to your parents. I guess they can’t handle you. Well, I can’t either. Get out. “

“I feel it In my heart.”

“Michael, I won’t ask again. “

Ms Policini said, her voice stern and severe. 

“If I had a gun,,,,,”


“I feel it in my heart”

“Hey, are you listening?”

“I’d wanna kill something. Kill, kill, kill. I’d wanna KILL something.”

“Get. Out. NOW”

Ms Policini snapped. 

"Theres a time too FUCK."

Michael said as he stood up, still wearing his oversized leather coat, and left the classroom. 

"And A time To PRAY!"

He said striding towards the door.

"And I will make love, to MARILYN'S REMAINS!!!"

He said— his last words before walking out the door. 

“Why hide? Why hide? Why hide?”

He repeated. stumbling out into the hall. 

Michael went to his spot in front of the school and smoked the last cigarettes he'd had left and then spent his pocket change on a can of soda which he took with him to a vacant stairwell in a far away, vacant, unused corner of the school. 

"The floor is all thats left"

He said to himself.

“Empty promises....”

“Help to forget.” 

“No more. No more. No more. “

Suddenly, Michael’s mind went back a month prior, to the apple orchard with Jessica. It was labour day weekend, and it proved to be the last day of sunshine and warmth for a long while. Especially for Michael. They walked hand in hand, Michael carrying the basket while Jessica picked the apples. 

“How about that one?”

Michel said pointing to a plump, shining jonagold

“No, no. That one isn’t good!” 

Said Jessica. 

“Look closely, it has a bruise on the side there.”

She said as she plucked another one growing on the next branch over. 

“Well look at wise ol Granny Smith over here—the apple expert!”

Said Michael. 

The two laughed and Michael took a red delicious from the basket and held it to Jessica’s mouth. She took a bite and then Michael took one himself. 

Afterwards, with their basket full of apples, they sat in a quaint, old and creaky house-turned cafe which stood on a hill overlooking the orchard, sipping their hot cider in peace. 

“I can’t wait for the apple pie you’re gonna make for me with all these.”

Said Michael, with a beaming smile. 

“Apple pie, apple cake, apple sauce. Hmm, apple juice? Apple wine! Yes, apple wine! Hmm, apple jelly too perhaps? Oh, the possibilities”

Jessica’s eyes trailed off into the distance. 

“You’re coming over after?”

“Listen Michael.”

Said Jessica, putting her hands into his. 


Her eyes were full of tears. 

Michael strokes her soft and tiny hands. 

Jessica looked down at the table. 

“What’s up, babe?”

Said Michael trying to make eye contact with her as she dodged his gaze. 

“My mom’s getting me here.” 

“So you’re not coming over?”


“Why, because of school tomorrow?”

“Well, kind of...”

Said Jessica, choking up with tears. 

“What do you mean kind of?”

“Yeah. That’s why. It’s because of school.”


Said Michael. 

“And you’re crying because...?”


Said Jessica, composing herself. 


“We need to break up.”

Finally, Their eyes met. 

And within her eyes, Michael saw the entire summer flash by. The nights he’d snuck her into his room. The quiet moments they spent laying together — listening to eachothers breathing, and the sounds of crickets, and then the birds at the crack of dawn after spending the entire night, awake in each other’s arms. He remembered The secrets they whispered to each other about their childhood, about their parents, about their fantasies and their deepest fears and insecurities. He remembered the morning light shining in like gold against her soft skin. 

He saw his grandparents lake house where Jessica had joined the family. He could smell the pancakes and the syrup which she always poured too overzealously, drowning the food on her plate as she did- so much that it angered Michael’s grandfather to a fit when they had used up an entire bottle in just a weekend. 

In her eyes, Michael saw the afternoons spent sitting out on the dock, feet dangling in the water, looking out across the lake. The evenings drinking the wine he’d stolen from his parents, while they’d watch the never ending day burn out into a spectacular sunset.

He could see all those arrays of colour reflecting in her now pallid and grey eyes, that moment as she said those words—that moment when the summer sun faded for good, and the trees shed themselves bare and the colourful splendour all became dull and dead. 

She gave him the reason of her needing to focus on school. Michael didn’t believe her, but it didn’t matter. Jessica left into her moms car, and Michael took his basket of apples all the way to the bus stop, before dumping them on the ground, and then made his way home. 

He was laying on the ground when he awoke to a bell signalling the end of the day. Michael wiped his tears as he left the stairwell. He debated going home, or to a spot in the woods he had recently discovered near a small creek. But, being out of any smokeables, with nothing to ease the desperation and pain, he opted against it. 

“I saw you...

I saw you shine.”

he whispered as he walked through the swarms of students 

“My little black angel”

“I want you to feel like you make me feel.”

He said. 

His head was throbbing. His face was burning. His legs were giving way underneath him. His entire body was trembling. 

Desperate, With nowhere else to turn, Michael went to the school office, and towards the back corner up to a door labeled “Guidance”. 

Michael walked in and saw a sturdy man in a track suit and grey slicked back hair and glasses sitting at one end of a long brown table. 

“You’re Michael.” He spoke, looking up to Michael as he entered the room. 

Michael nodded


Michael sat down and looked down at his hands as they shook on the table. 

The conciliar sipped his coffee and leaned back in his chair. 

“Why are you here, Michael?”


He said carefully.

"I think something might be wrong with me.”

He said. 

“So I’ve heard...”

Said the guidance councillor. 

“What’s making you behave this way?”

The councillor said, gesturing towards Michael's trembling fists.

“I’ve heard that apparently you have been running around crazy, seeing things, hearing things, having outbursts?”

“What makes you think it’s an act?”

Michael asked

“Oh come now, Michael”

Said the councillor. 

Michael swallowed hard.

“Well I think it’s out of fear.”

Said Michael. 


Said the councillor, drawing a breath. 


“Fear of...”

Michael repeated 

The councillor looked out the window as Michael spoke. 


Said the councillor. 

“Fear of...?”

“Fear of...”

Michael tried to grasp the reality infront of him. The divide between reality and his mind seemed as vast and as turbulent as an ocean. 


He said, finally. 

“Like, as in, dying?”

Asked the councillor. He took a sip of his coffee while glancing down at his watch. 

“No, no. Not dying.”

Said Michael. 


He said, measuring his words. 

He looked at the councillor to see his eyes had trailed off again. 

“Just disappearing.”

“ Oh, being kidnapped?”

the councillor asked in confusion. 

“No. Not at all.”

Said Michael, his brows coming together. 

He let out a deep sigh. 

“Just being tucked away in a dusty old closet somewhere.”

“Hmm, a closet...”

Said the councillor nodding as if he had solved a puzzle. 

“Left at the bottom of a trash heap in some abandoned factory”

Michael went on

“The leftover junk at a rummage sale.” 

Michael went on. 

“Fading off into obscurity....”

“Wandering through empty alleyways like cellophane In the wind.”

“Soon to be sucked into the eternal void ...”

“Into the abyss. “

The councillor yawned while giving a nod of feigned compassion. 

“Being lost in space...”

Michael went on

“With no sense of myself or reality. Blinded by the light. Stumbling with every wrong step. A lamb being led to bloody and senseless slaughter”

“Just a footprint in the sand...”

“Washed away.”

"No trace. Not even a speck.

“An ant sucked into a vacuum.” 

Michael felt his heartbeat beginning to race. 

“Tucked aside like a grimy old sponge. Left to crust up and deteriorate. A cat underneath the sofa. alone in the night, crippled and mutilated, calling out to no-one. “

“A pair of spectacles on a busy sidewalk. Trampled, and crushed, drowning beneath the waves in the sea of time, leaving nothing behind but a filthy pile of false teeth, layers of flesh and bone dust, so worthless, rotten, and so stinking, even the rats and the maggots and the earthworms don’t bother with it.”

Michael said, sucking back tears. 

“What difference is it, really?”

“I’m bored. I’m numb and I’m blind the older I get and I can’t sleep and I can’t stay awake and no one can hear me screaming out in pain and if they could they would simply shut me out. This is my only constant.” 

“And when I look around, I see them all. I see all of them, still living a lie. Copies of copies. Fresh, fleshy, shiny and bright and I get depressed looking at them, like plastic plants in waiting rooms, useful as decorations, but deep down you know they’re not the real thing, deep down you know they’re the death of the real thing. But still, they look at you, and you can’t help but see they’re the spitting image of perfection.”

Michael said gritting his teeth

“But hell, damnit, hell, at least they’re alive, which is more than I can say for myself.”

He said starring at his cupped hands. 

A teardrop ran down his face, followed by a steady stream, forming a pool on the table. 

His face wet, Michael looked up to the councillor. 

The councillors head was still turned, looking out the window. 

He took a deep breath and looked at his watch before he spoke. 

“Sounds, pretty, um...."

He said, looking for the right word.

"Tough. “

Michael nodded and wiped his face. 

“Yeah..” he sniffed. 

When he looked up, the councillor was gone. 

October 15, 2020 16:52

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