Emil Österlund

Rotten apples

So i was bored a night during the end of 2011 and i wrote this. Its a short story that came to me, and I felt like writing it down. Please read and give feedback!

I knew things would get weird as my parents got a divorce. One week with my father and one with my mother. Weeks came and went, i moved here and there, and as soon as i got settled it was time to move again. Well friends, I will see you in school next week, but I can’t play after class as I have to go take the bus outside of town to my father. It’s too long of a distance to stay later in the afternoon. See you monday, play with you in a week.

But the weeks at my fathers were not boring, no rather quite the opposite. The house was an old house made by clay, painted dark brown which gave it a cottage-like look that could be from something out of a fairytale. The grass was always cut short, my father tended to the garden with all his heart and pride. Now as autumn sneaked upon us the trees were all full of fruit and i loved running around there, in between the trees, climbing the branches to get to the fruit in the top of the tree. No matter how many times my father told me that the fruit on the ground actually was the one most ripe i wanted to climb.

I remember one time from last autumn as my father was gathering all rotten apples in a pile to remove from the garden while i as usual was climbing above him, singing and rhyming while doing so. I don't remember if i stopped singing before or after the foot slipped, sometimes one can just feel things are about to go wrong, but I do know that as i fell i screamed. Like a baby. My voice carried over the garden as I smacked into the ground with my father running towards me. It did not hurt, not a bit. When touching my back with my fingers I first thought i felt a bloody moist, but quickly realised it was cold and that I’d managed to fall into the pile of rotten apples. It took the whole afternoon for my father to get the sweet and rotten smell out of my hair.

Well this autumn I did not fall. Not in the way people most often fall, from an object into something else, most often the ground. No, this autumn I more, drifted into something, something .. unlikely? It all started with Ian. -”Why you taking that bus every week? Don't you go to school like normal people?” The voice came from behind me as i waited for the bus. Turning around i saw a boy about my age, freckles covering his face. Sitting on a grand-mother-like bike with a smile on his face. -”I see you here quite often, you live by the cottage house don’t you?” -”Yeah, I do. Mother lives downtown and I go to school there. Living here every other week. “ He smiled again, showing even more teeth. -”You got any friends around here then? I could show you a thing or two. “ On the back of his head he had two dreadlocks pointing out from a otherwise short-trimmed head. -”No. Or i mean, yes i guess you could”. -”Cool. I will meet you at the cottage tonight. See ya.” As he pedaled away the bus turned into the bus stop and as I sat on my usual spot I felt quite excited for the coming afternoon.

A couple of hours later the bus stopped at the very same bus stop again. When it made that typical buss - farting - on leaving sound and turned out on the road again i turned around and he was already waiting. -”Lets go!? Jump up on the back and lets get out of here!” He pointed towards the luggage rack and I slipped up behind him and we started moving. -”So how was city school today? Stock lectures?” He grinned.
He took me to an old barn. Red, and huge and in the middle of nowhere. Left of the door the roof had caved in, and it looked like it happened lots of years ago. -”What is this place?” I realised my yaw must be somewhere between my knees and quickly closed my mouth. “Anyone using this place?” -”Well i am. Come, what i want to show you is on the backside of the barn, but we have to go through it to get there. “ If it looked big from the outside it felt even bigger when coming inside. The caved in roof gave the left side a look of ‘you can only se half of the barn, but it goes on forever behind the caved in roof’. The right side on the opposing side ended a couple of meters in, but still big enough for a couple of tractors or so. But no sign of tractors here, instead all kinds of old junk where lying around. A old rocking chair lying next to half of a spinning wheel. In a crate old half rotten wool was lying around giving the whole place a smell of wet rotten sheep. In front of us was an even bigger door then the one we came through which squeaked open as Ian gave it a push. -”We came in the from the back door, and what we want is on the inside. Come on.”
As we stepped out on the yard - and truly a yard it was - the surroundings gave me a feeling of traveling 100 years back in time. There was another house that could not be seen from where we came, it was an old mansion with most of the roofs and walls caved in. Some benches made of a big tree still stood upright surrounding a old stone table that looked like it easily could stand there for a thousand years more without breaking. From the forest came a road leading up to the barn, surrounding a well and a flagpole. The road made of gravel was now covered with dandelions. -”This place is amazing. How come no one has renovated it? How do you know of it?” He smiled. -”I don’t know. My father showed it to me. Apparently my fathers grand grandfather lived here, as a cattle herder. But something happened to the family owning the place and they moved. Maybe to the city, I don’t know. My ancestor moved as well and since then the place has been empty except for some rats and bats. -”Rats and bats ey. I could tell. “ The wind blew up some dust and a cold chill went down my spine. -”Come on. I want to show you the well. Its older then the mansion and rumour is its a true wishing well. Throw something precious inside, make a wish and it will come true.” -”There is no such thing as a real wishing well. You talk of fairy tales!” Even though i put a mocking smile to my lips when i said it was intrigued. -”And how do you know that you are currently not living in a fairytale? Do you think Rapunzel knew she was? Its the tales making its way from mouth to mouth that gives it life. When your children will talk about this to their grandchildren about how you made a wish that came through it will be a tale. “ No grin this time. His face had a thoughtful look as he said it. -”In a fairytale no one ever goes to school learning all the boring things we do every day.” I countered. “Hence this can’t be a fairytale”. Even though i wanted to behave mature, and logical, this whole situation just made me feel more childish than ever. Ian looked quite the opposite of childish. -”But why do you go to school then? Why don’t you live everyday as if it was a fairytale? Stop arguing now, what do you have to lose anyway? Give a gift to the well, whisper your wish to it and come back to me. I will be waiting by the barn. “ And he walked away leaving me with the well, my thoughts and my childish pride.
It could not be for real. If it was real, people would be lining up to get their wishes granted. Anyway I stood waiting, thinking of my whish. -”Remember you have to give the well a gift of meaning. Something precious to you. Otherwise it will not work.” Ian's voice came from behind me and I nodded to him without turning around. It occured to me at once. I’d give it my shoes. I slipped out of them, now two years old that had kept amazingly well together and put them to my breast. I spat in them and let them fall over the edge of the fern covered well and as in slow motion they disappeared in the depth of the well some second before there came a splash. Suddenly a bit stressed about what to wish for i gathered my thoughts. First there was nothing. And then it came to me, the one thing i whispered out in the dark every now and then before falling asleep. Now i whispered it down the well, with the my voice bouncing between the walls like the sound of a snake. Let my mother and father find back to each other again. Not for my sake, but for their. Let them love each other again, like they did when they first met each other and let the love stay with them until the end. I kissed the ferny rocks and turned around giving the deep well a last look and for a second it almost looked like something was glimmering in the water. Wish accepted it said. But when looking more thoroughly i saw nothing but darkness. -”Your shoes huh? Good thinking there, although I would not want to walk through the barn barefoot with all the junk lying there. “ -”It will be allright, i am used to walking barefoot. What did you give it?” I looked him in the eyes, i felt no more like a child, but more like i had done something good. -”I gave it my gameboy. It was maybe two weeks after my father showed me this place, and i realised i did not want to spend my days gaming. So i threw it in and havent played an hour tv or computer games since.” He looked me in the eyes, cleared his throat and continued. “There are some more rules you should know about. You are only allowed to show this place to one person. Not two, not three. Only one. If you break the rule your wish will not be granted, and if it’s already been it will be taken from you.” -”By who? Who can take a granted wish from me?” This confused me quite a bit. No more logical thoughts in my head, now believing that my wish truly could be granted. -” I don’t know” he answered. “But my guess is that it's the same being that grants the wish. I have not met him, her, it and I don’t plan to either. I am happy knowing that my wish is granted, it was fulfilled and I don’t want that taken from me. “ -” ah. okay. “ i did not know what to say. this was strange. -”Lets get you home before you freeze your toes off. Come on!” And we walked back through the barn.

As we got home Ian left me by the gates. As i approached the house i could see father was playing music, I don’t know how, but even before the sound reached through the thick walls I just knew it. The house was warm and as i stepped inside i could feel my feet starting to itch as they started to warm up. “Dad i am home!” -”Where have you been love?, You did not come home from school?” He did not sound worried, I was a big girl. -”Found myself a friend, been out all afternoon. Need to wash myself before dinner!” -”Okay, it’s finished already, I will put it on the table.” He started moving. -”And dad, i kinda lost my shoes, so I need some new ones.” And before he could answer i was on my way to the bathroom. Next day mother drove in through the gates. She never came here. I usually just took the bus. -”Hello darling, thought i would pick you up today. Haven’t been here for a long time. “ I saw her standing there, smiling. Yet I could not believe this happening. My parents, on the same location, not arguing. -”Is that your father over there at the apple trees? Did he do something to his hair? He looks different.” And from that moment i knew the well had accepted my offer.