One day many years from now. Or wait.. Maybe it was many years ago? I guess it doesn’t very much matter.
Well, One day, a small creature not so old, yet also not so very young, its mottled furs pointing this way and that, its feet opened and sore, its body shivering, weak from its life’s long toils, cold from the inclement elements, but most of all hungry; so very hungry, hungry from days-
(Or was it years? Perhaps. That too does not much matter now.)
– without nourishment, came upon a beautiful tree.
Its stomach rumbling out a low pinching song in the cavity of its bony frame, the creature looked up, high into the mighty crown of this, most rangy girthful arbor it had happened upon.
The small sun was high and the tree’s shade cast almost directly down on the long grasses and on our little creature we now have before us.
The creature squinted. Was there something up there?
It could almost make out a small thing, it was sure; very high up but all the same. A thing. Yes.
Was it red? But it glistened. It.. glistened…green it seemed?
The sun, weak as it was at this time in the span of our seasons, had enough strength yet to obfuscate.
As the once-mighty rays broke through the high canopy in thin shards, cutting the whispering autumnal veils of mist, seemingly slicing air on their way toward the earth; now illuminated faintly …an object in the heights…
Our creature’s pointy beaded eyes, hazelnut-brown, with large black, honest, centers, ringed each in turn with a slim white circle, had become weak and dull through the faithful service they had offered throughout our creature’s life. But of this one thing they felt they could be very very sure, and they told the creature so!
“Yes! Yes creature: an apple.”
Our creature was sure of this. The eyes had confirmed it.
An apple hung up there, this one thing was sure.
The air seemed to shiver and the sun of a sudden, seemed to pulse into new life-giving warmth, like one might give a hiccup if circumstance called for one.
It seemed a gear had been turned. Yes. It had. Turned. A light, an opening, a way, an ambition and finally…an objective and a quickly unraveling solution had made itself clear to our good friend the little creature.
An all-together unknown energy started to push itself upward in the creature’s body, sparking and arcing hither and yonder.
Its sharp toes seemed to tingle painfully. The cuts under its feet burned a little stronger for it, yet the effect remained indeed wholly unnoticed.
Little bumps formed all over its skin.
We would never see these bumps I speak of.
Why? Well our creature is covered in fur! Smelly, greasy, yet warm and protective life-preserving fur.
Mottled? Indeed. Muddied? Off course. Disheveled? For certain. Pointing this way and that, yes.
A blend of age’s greys this fur was. Earth’s browns scattered themselves across the greys, as well as some colours we would forever struggle to find a drawer for, if we tried, but fur it was all the same.
But they were there.
The bumps that is.
The hunger the creature had felt seemed to seep away quietly, as water might from a bucket that had not been cobbled all too well.
As it stared high, its lean neck creaking ever so quietly, its eyes squinting as the lofty branches swayed and momentarily opened and closed to the small sun’s light, our creature started to form a plan.
The apple must be reached that much is sure. Climb one must, that is sure.
Or is it?
Our creature ruminated.
To the onlookers of whom there were precious none, it looked now as if its fur was drying? How strange, especially in these year-ending days!
The hazy eyeballs looked clearer, it seemed? The feet were less sore it seemed?
And the hunger?
Well, the hunger seemed gone also. It was there, we can all agree, but its strength was now ever so greatly diminished.
Now finally it was the hunger’s turn to feel weak! Maybe even ashamed? We might never know this for sure.
And our good friend, the little creature?
Well? And now?
Now it was our friend the creatures’ turn to feel that Strength. Yes.
A strength it had yearned for in these long hard years that life and time and occasion had offered it, yet all too seldom had found.
But there it was.
Free for the Taking, Limitless and Powerful. Indeed.
Our creature was invigorated!
Or so it would seem to the eye, naked or clothed as it and its comrade may be in any given situation.
It was of course the Hope, magnanimous and amazing, that had delivered this strength to our little creature, and just in time, we might add. Yes. Just in time.
Not many more days could have passed as such before our little creature would have eventually failed in its seemingly interminable strength.
faltered in its little, yet ultimately determined scurrying steps.
And consequently fallen.
That much can be sure as well. Yes.
Yet, it had not come to this. No. Our creature had found a tree and in that tree it had found an apple.
And in that apple?
Well in that apple our good friend the little creature had found…Hope.
This story can end here if you wish.
Our determined friend finds a way to the apple and is replenished, of course. Maybe more apples hide. In the glorious heights of the magnificent canopy of our rangy and ever so girthy, tall and selflessly giving apple tree. Our good friend the little creature becomes hale and healthy.
Just in time, we might add, just in time to start the hard toil of digging a deep warm burrow to winter in, before the harsh keening call is heard, of the sudden winters’ scythe, that will fell so many creatures it meets, as it does. As it always has. And probably always will. We may never know this.
However our story is not yet done. No. It winds on. Just as a creek would on its way to find its final vessel.
Climb…CLIMB!? – our creature thought desperately to itself.
But how? its claws clawed, that is true. But climb? Climb they would not. At least not safely. It was not born a climber. No. It was born a scurrier. And an excellent scurrier our good friend the little creature was, that we may add here to be sure. But not a climber, sadly. No.
A squirrel, even smaller than our good friend, the little creature, passed through the very long grasses and the creature and the squirrel met.
Under our girthy rangy apple tree an unusual discourse now came to pass. Very unusual indeed. We shall repeat it here
“i have found an apple, high up in that tree, can you see? And I am so very very hungry, I might falter and fall any day. But I am no climber, i am sad to admit.”……”might you help me recover that apple up there, squirrel? I would truly be eternally grateful, as I am currently starving, that much is sure. it would be enough to replenish me, that also can be said for certain” the little creature squeaked to the squirrel, its belly rumbling its pinching song, as if it meant to reinforce the syllables that squeaked forth from our good friends little pointed jaws.
“Climb for you I cannot” said the squirrel. ” My cheeks are heavy with nuts and I am scared. Scared to put the nuts down before I reach the hollow in which I live, far from here. That, unfortunately, is a squirrels’ lot.” The squirrel turned its face to the ground, ashamed it seemed, maybe much like the hunger’s face might have been, it seemed.
“I apologize with all my heart, little creature. I am so very sorry that i cannot assist you. But I can hear quick winters’ scythe keening, so I must carry on, and quickly. Others depend on me, you understand?”
A helpless silence lingered between the two.
The squirrel stepped away slowly with heavy feet it seemed, its head still facing the good earth.
The squirrel receded into the long grasses that seemed to obscure so much, we might add.
It spoke back over its little shoulder: “Please little creature, I implore you, accept this, my sincere apology. I feel awful that I may not assist. With these nuts in my cheeks weighing me down I might well fall and perish attempting a difficult climb. And a squirrel’s lot must be a squirrel’s lot”.
A fat hazelnut flit back out of the long grasses toward the little creature and…NO! It did not hit the squirrel. No. It landed precisely and gently at the our good friend the little creature’s sore feet
“Try this projectile, my friend. It might be of a help in recovering your fine apple!”….”Fare thee well! and…Good Luck!”
The air had stopped shivering. The small suns rays warmed a little less it seemed. The energy in the little creature’s body flickered on and off. its mind was a little colder now, that much can be asserted here.
A sadness settled under the great arbors protective cover, together with the late afternoons’ cooler air.
Our good friend the little creature shivered briefly. The bumps on its body were still there, that much can be believed. But now…now they had their cause from someplace else.
Only a little deflated, and yet determined and animated by hope’s vital force, the little creature took the nut in its little claws. Clumsily? – you wonder? No. Not clumsily. With an inner strength.
Hope yet ran its mighty uncleavable lines through our good friend the little creature’s mind and body.
The little creature squinted high into the canopy as if its eyes might grasp the glistening apple down to the ground themselves.
Its little left arm (yes, our good friend the little creature seems to be left-handed, it can be told)
reached as far back as its little shoulders would allow.
Its eyes squinted harder. The little creature’s fur rippled briefly.
Its arm shot up and forward at a terrific speed.
The nut shot up. High and even higher. Guided, it seemed, by the creature’s surprising and great spirit and hope’s’ fierce strength.
It sailed through the small sun’s rays cutting them, as They had before cut the misty veils, and crashed noisily through the last leaves of the mighty crown of this, most rangy girthful arbor the little creature had in its great and unexpected luck, happened upon.
With a Most-satisfying hollow-sounding “THOCK!”, the hazelnut lodged into the lower part of the magnificent apple our good friend the little creature had so skillfully spotted with its hazy yet faithful eyes.
A Glorious Cast! …The apple swayed hysterically, this way, that way. And yes! swayed hither and fro also.
And more so, it ripped pleasantly; with the faintest little “snick” from its branch and fell. It fell.
The evenings’ dewey pearls coursed up its glorious curves, red and deep green flashes as it fell through the small suns late afternoon rays and sliced through the cold misty air, cutting again those whispering autumnal veils of mist that warn all of quick and sudden winters’ keening scythe which must surely come and fell so many it meets, each time it visits.
As, naturally, it always has and probably always will. We will not ever know if this might be a certainty.
The apple landed right in front of our friend, the little creature. Bounced once… and settled meekly, before the open feet with the cuts that burn no longer. The feet that have been so sore for so long. Before the stomach, rumbling out a low pinching song in the cavity of its bony frame no more.
Our good friend the little creature embraces the apple, which, up close, to be quite fair, is almost as big as the creature itself. Its eyes dart around, examining the long grasses nearby and sees….? Yes!
What luck! A derelict burrow! Oh the good graces! Oh such impeccable chance!
The little creature’s chest pulses with its heart’s great joy! Its legs move with a speed unfathomable and deliver our good friend the little creature safely and swiftly into the bowels of a deep and warm yet derelict burrow, utterly fit for purpose.
It settles in the lowest chamber, now snug and warm, safe and fulfilled by its unplumbed joy.
Hope releases our good friend the little creature as its sharp teeth sink with undoubtable purpose into its personal and very own, gorgeously plump and rather imposingly large apple which squeaks joyfully back at the little creatures teeth as its skin is finally broken and it releases its sweet juices and ripe flesh into our good friend the little creature. Nourishing it finally….finally. Such a happiness. An ocean of it. It ruptures across the little creature’s face as it closes its eyes, now safe and hale, to press firmly into winter’s long sleep.
Just in time, we could add, just in time indeed. Good night, sweet little creature. Good night, good friend.
The small late autumn sun sets silently on the orchard. The small sun’s rays recede, much like the squirrel; recede before the silently whispering autumnal veils of mist , which in turn have to recede differentially into the cold and cooler arms of dusk.
Strangely for this time of year, so strangely, actually, most of the orchard’s trees and bushes seem to still bear fruit.
Unusual indeed. All it seems, except the largest of them, an apple tree. This one, carries but one, it seems. Dangling promiscuously in dusk’s faint light.
A creature stumbles wearily under the cover of the rangy girthful arbor of that great and probably wise apple tree.
Right there it happens upon what might even have been its kin. “Another little creature! How strange! here, in the orchard? What a place for this somber meeting” the weary creature thinks.
Its chest is pulsing ever so, ever so faintly and then seems to stop as it lies perfectly still under the rangy and girthful apple tree. Its limbs already stiffening and cold. Its hazy eyes shining dully up at an apple high in the tree in dusks’ blue lustre.
“Dreaming its last and best and most final dream…” the lone creature thinks to itself as it stares sadly down.
“That much can be certain.” it demurely whispers itself
“Oooh” exclaims the creature almost noiselessly now.
“Naught can be done” it thinks, which is true.
It is a creature’s lot to falter and fail this way.
When quick and sudden winter’s keening scythe which has surely come, is felling all
Each time it visits.
Great and small alike, as it always has.
And naturally always will.
Image by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay
10 thoughts on “The Apple by Simon Berling”
This is an airy and fanciful little thing. Well done.
thank you very much, irene
This is a very interesting piece of work.
Lyrical and inventive.
thank you hugh, appreciate your feedback xo
I was having far too much fun to stop at the first possible ending. Then it turned sad. Nicely done.
glad you enjoyed it, david x
thank you ever so much Leila! your absolutely fantastic!! proud as Punch
Hiya bruv… Great little story.. Love the use of the English language in you descriptive passages in this little journey👌
thanks J, appreciate you taking the time. was wicked fun to write