Apple Girl

By Gillian O’Shaughnessy

When you eat apple seeds, they’ll take root in your stomach. The seeds will send out tiny shoots. Lush, grass-green tendrils will thrive, form twisty apple branches and boughs, leafy and wide. Dripping with shiny red and green and pink and yellow fruit.

When you eat apple seeds you won’t feel them sprout. One day you’ll notice a soft pain in your belly and a tickle in your nose, then something rising and rising in your throat that you can’t hold back. Before you know it, an apple will fall from your lips, then another, then another. Your mouth will form a permanent O, in order to give them easy passage. It will be a marvelous miracle, something to see.

Soon, they will call you Apple Girl and people will come running for the fruit you bear. Old ladies making crusty pies will line up with their baskets, waiting patiently for the green Granny Smiths. Little girls and boys will catch rosy Honeycrisps. They’ll shine them up with spit and the sleeves of their jerseys, leave them on the teacher’s desk after the final bell. A witch with a pointed black hat and warts on her hooked nose will slink across your path, reach out her twisted fingers to snatch the poison apples you bear especially for her on cool Sunday mornings.

Your sweet spring flowers will be sought after as they wind out of your ears, curl through your belly button and burst into flower like a song. Brides will pay a fortune for Apple Girl blossom in their bouquets. Influencers will hover around your head like clouds of fruit flies, hoping for a selfie snap that will make them famous. A witch will leave small bunches of bluebells on your doorstep in exchange.

You’ll become an Apple Girl Goddess. Worshippers will scratch and claw to get the very best of your produce. They’ll tear at your limbs, drag the fruit from your branches before it’s ripe, crush fragile blossoms beneath their stamping feet. They’ll sneak cuttings of you to plant in their gardens, snip, snip, snipping at the tips of your most tender shoots. A witch will steep marshmallow and marigold in a tea to soothe your wounds.

People will decide you’re not so special, after all. They can get the exact same apples, only cheaper, two for a dollar on sale. Children will start buying their teachers bottles of wine and vouchers for the day spa. Old ladies will stop baking pies and apple cake and spend their time at the races or on the slot machines at the casino instead. Influencers will move on to the man who crochets life-like replicas of 1970s cuisine, like deviled eggs or moulded salmon mousse. Brides will carry elegantly woven bunches of birch twigs.

The witch alone will stay loyal. She knows quality magic when she sees it. You’ll be friends, then maybe more. Live in a small cottage with a thatched roof just out of town, up the road from the gingerbread house, maybe set up a small fruit barrow at the markets together. She’ll take up busking to support you, one of those one-man-band setups with cymbals on her knees. You’ll keep your tendrils tidy so as not to attract undue attention, she’ll try not to poison small children, though she’ll make no promises about their mothers.

When you have your babies, you’ll feed them stewed apple and custard, and milky apple sauce. They’ll play with the spirals of apple peel that thread and weave and dance around their wrists in twirling ribbons. You’ll encourage them to eat up every bite, pips especially. You’ll hold your witchy wife’s hand and tell your fat-cheeked children that apples hold the seed of the fruits of love.

Gillian O’Shaughnessy is a short fiction author who lives in the port city of Fremantle, Western Australia. She has work in SmokeLong Quarterly, Fractured Lit and Ellipsis Zine. She tweets @GillOshaughness.

Artwork by Lesley C. Weston (Pen and Ink on Suminagashi)

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