I’d never given so much thought to the apple, forever grasped in her hands as she sat there, every day and any day when the sun was kind enough to avoid her small realm of shade. I’d really never given so much thought to her, either, but today is different. Today she came against the sun’s will, drenched and muddied up, a greenish-yellow apple still firmly gripped in her hand. She came with a book, more of a journal it seemed, daring the rain to touch the pages. She came for the rain to claim the tears that berate her, letting them add on to the minuscule rivers at her feet. Sitting under that tree, thanking it for the blessing of keeping her dry, she opened her book, took a bite of her apple, and dove into the pages, her crying turning into rage and whirlwinds of words in writing. I would have gone over to talk to her, muddy up myself, if it weren’t for that feral look in her eyes as she wrote. Instead, I stayed by the window and watched, wondering what it would be like to live in that blessed realm with her, unable to reach the words that aren’t our own, wondering what it would be like to say “our” out loud. Yet it stays as a thought in my head, just as her writing stays as her rage in her book, how her apple stays as a piece of good fortune in her hand.
Coming together, the covers of her book, more of a journal it seemed, closed up their words, hidden and unspoken to any soul taking a toil out in the wet of the day. I prepared myself to step outside, taking a deep breath and an apple-picking basket to serve as my disguise. Going down the sloped gravel path I reach my uncle’s orchard, coming up to the tree next to the raged, tear-stricken girl. I Plucked the apples beaded with the clear glass beads of rain, dropping into the towel that lined the basket. Sitting there with her book closed, the girl looked up at me, the kind of look you give to an ant as you debate to yourself whether you should send it to little ant heaven or allow it to continue its work. My hands shake like the leaves above them, and I can’t say it was fully from the chill of the rain. This tree is not as blessed as hers, for here I am wet and cold while there she sits dry. She began to stand up, leaving her apple in the realm of her written rage and walked over to me. Well, I say walk, but mean stride. There is a big difference, you see. I didn’t realize how much taller she was than me, as if all she had to do was lift her finger and the world would stop for her, and only for her. She held up her book, more of a journal it seemed, and showed me the cover, and on it was scrawled in a tilted cursive with a single name. Rowena. She had blessed me with the gift of her name.
“Hello,” as she spoke, she enchanted me. More than enchant, for I was already enchanted from the moment I laid eyes on the apple grasped in her hand. She...ensorcelled me. A mysterious word, I know, but it is best to describe this thing for which I have no words.
“Hi”. Out of all the words that float my brain, that was the only one that had the bravery to be spoken.
She looked up at the apples, begging to be picked to avoid the ground, and said “two girls standing under an apple tree. Sounds like something out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?” She climbed up and hung on a branch. How her hands didn’t slip in the rain is a phenomenon to me.
I needed to say something to this girl, the girl of which the world obeys.“A fairy tale is just the name of a story that we want to believe.”
“Well, what if we called it nonfiction then? Does that sound more appealing than a fairy tale?” she grabbed an apple, not quite as ripe as it should be at this time, and took a bite.
“Well then… let's call it a sensation.”
“Sensation?” she dropped from her branch and looked down at me, the apple sitting in her hand.
“Yes, the sensational Rowena and me,” setting down my basket, trying to pull out the cursed umbrella that does nothing but make it look like it’s trying to keep you dry.
“And what is the name of this ‘me’?” she asked.
“I’ll tell you my name if you tell me why you were crying,” I negotiate. A bargain is always good at the start of friends.
“Fine, but I can’t promise that you’ll be satisfied. Look,” she dropped her second apple to the ground and lifted up her book, more of a journal it seemed. She opened the cover and showed me these drawings of two hearts, both with flames crawling inside yet with different colors. The first flaming heart had red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple curling up and around, while the second heart had red, orange, a white stripe down the middle, light purple, and a deep pink. “These colors here, to me they mean freedom. They mean that I am loved in this world and that I can give others just as much love as I long for. They give me a sense of belonging, they fuel me to wake up when I struggle to open my eyes. These colors define me. Yet in my world, these colors also mean I’m unloved. These colors deny my rights as a human being, chain me down to my unaccomplishments.”
She closed her book and stepped out from under the tree, back into the rain. She tilted her head up and closed her eyes, where I could see a small tear slip out to join the parade of cascading water down her face. “I don’t expect a girl in an orchard to understand me.”
“Believe me,” I say as I step out with her, “I understand you all too well.”
“What’s your name?” she brings her eyes back down with curiosity, wondering what I mean.
“My name i-”
I wake up to find the rain has stopped, as well as the girl’s crying outside the window. I wake up to find the mists of dream fade away, to find that it all really was just a fairy tale, something I would have loved to believe someday. I wake up to find a wet apple picking basket by my feet, holding a not-quite-as-ripe-as-it-should-be apple sitting in the towel that lines the basket.