The Fall

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


Contemporary Drama Fiction

Between the burnt orange and deep reds of the leaves were a handful of green leaves, hanging on to the last moments of summer harder than we were hanging on to our marriage. I thought this might be a fun outing, maybe reignite everything that had been missing in the last couple years. He reluctantly agreed to go, but made it very clear that he wasn’t happy about it. Big surprise.

           We walked through the gates of the orchard seeing row after row of trees and adorable little baskets for us to collect our apples. I grabbed a couple, handing him one, and looked for a tree with some up high. I’d read somewhere that the best apples could be found at the top of the tree, so I wanted to come home with something really good to make him a homemade apple pie, since it was his favorite. I smiled at him; this could be a new start. He half-heartedly returned the smile and asked, “So, when do we start?”

“Well, I wanted to find some higher on the tree. I think they’re sweeter. See? They have ladders everywhere so we can climb up and get the good ones,” I pointed to a family picking apples from the very top and tossing them down to the mother who was laughing trying to catch them to fill their basket. I felt a twinge of envy seeing her there in her perfect fall ensemble with a cute belt around her slim waist. I was years away from that figure. I glanced at my husband, who was also admiring the smiling mom, but probably not for her clothes. I rolled my eyes and scoffed but continued to look for good apples.

“There! Look, way up high! I you go up, you can toss them down to me and I’ll try to catch them,” I laughed. He looked up then looked at the ladder, “Oh, so you want me to do all the work?” I paused. “No, we would be doing it together, it’ll be fun,” I told him. He shook his head with his hands on his hips, lips pursed. I knew what this meant. “You go have your fun, I’ll be in the car.” He started back toward the entry, “Please, no, wait!” But he was already gone. We were ten minutes into our romantic getaway and he was already giving up. It was so like him to do this. I turned and stormed deeper into the orchard, determined to put as much space between he and I as possible.

           I had been an exceptional wife to him. Devoted, caring, tending to his every need. But it was never enough. It would never be enough. I stopped beneath a tree with some low hanging apples and grabbed a few to put in the basket. It felt pointless. At my weight I knew I couldn’t get up the ladder. And still, he refused to do his part. I felt the rage building in me again so I continued walking, hoping to get some good out of this trip. In my anger, I must’ve been walking too fast because I tripped over a root and fell to my hands and knees, the apples rolling out of my basket. I cried out as I fell, scraping my shin on the root. “Are you ok? Let me help you,” I heard and saw someone gathering my apples for me and felt gentle hands around my waist, lifting me up.

           The man was exquisite. Scruffy beard, tall, his casual button-up shirt stretching across a very nicely built chest. And his eyes were almost emerald green, I had never seen eyes like that in my life. “Y-yes,” I stammered, “I’m fine, just a little scrape.” I stood up and brushed myself off, but felt the man staring at me.

“Your hair, I’ve never seen a color like this. Its truly beautiful,” he said, reaching over and brushing a strand of my long red hair over my shoulder. I blushed furiously, “Thank you.” He looked around for a moment then leaned in closer to me, “Do you want me to show you where the good stuff is?” He raised his eyebrows in a mischievous smirk, it was adorable.

“The good stuff?” I asked, curious.

“Yes! They have a different section of the orchard for the stuff they sell in the shop. It has to be high quality so they keep that from the public. But I can get us there, if you’re up for an adventure and want the high-quality stuff…” He looked at me pleadingly. I smiled, then he grabbed my hand and led me through the trees and through a break in the fence that we had to squeeze through. The trees looked better, healthier, and there were far more apples available.

“Are you sure we won’t get in trouble for this?” I asked.

“Only if we get caught. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have the good stuff, right?” He smiled an absolutely heart-melting smile that made my stomach flutter. Especially since he was still holding my hand. We walked to the farthest end of the orchard and found the tallest tree. He pulled over a ladder. “Do you want to sit and relax for a moment? It’s a beautiful day, we can enjoy our victory,” he said with a laugh. I sat under the tree and he sat next to me. Very close to me. I was gazing out at all the colors of the trees, admiring the view, when I noticed him looking at me. He ran his hand through my hair again, making me shiver as his hand lingered at the tips of my hair, just over my breast. I could feel my heart racing, I wanted to feel those lips all over my body. He smiled again, dropping his eyes, “Let me get the ladder, I will bring you the finest apple in the entire orchard.”

           I was still a little breathless as he climbed to reach the top of the tree. He grabbed several apples from the top and climbed back down. He sat down and showed me the apples. “These apples, they will be the sweetest apples you will ever eat.” I went to put them in my basket but he grabbed my hand, “No, try it now. You won’t regret it.”

“Isn’t that against the rules?” I asked. I thought I read something about that on the sign.

“Isn’t all this against the rules?” he laughed, holding his hands out, gesturing to where we were.

           He had a good point. I shrugged and took a bite. He was right, I had never had an apple so sweet and crisp. I raised my eyebrows and nodded at him as I took another bite, then another. I couldn’t get enough. I finished the first, then the second. I took a bite of the third, when the mysterious man said, “Wait, I want a taste, too.” He leaned over and kissed me on the lips, running his tongue over my lips gently, tasting the juices. As soon as he kissed me, I knew. I knew everything about this was wrong. I pulled back and he was just smiling at me, but as I turned and looked toward the orchard, I saw my husband standing next to the broken section of fence. The heartbroken look on his face told me everything I had thought about our marriage was wrong. That he did love me, that I had been wrong in so many ways, that there were so many simple things I could’ve done differently to make him happy and to make our marriage work. But I didn’t. It was easier to just blame him. But there was no question now, I had wrecked our marriage.

           I jumped to my feet and tried to make it over to him but he was just far enough ahead of me that I couldn’t reach him. I called after him as we passed all the rows of trees that were supposed to represent a new start for us, but he never looked back and just kept walking. He made it to the car and just as I tried to open the door, he left. And I knew it was the last time. I tried calling him, no response. So, I called a cab and went home to start packing my things. He never came home. And I never forgave myself, no matter how hard I tried.

October 15, 2020 03:56

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