A short story
There was one apple tree in the orchard that grew twisted. It’s trunk was darker, thicker and twisted as though somebody had wrung it as though it was a cloth. Its leaves were of a jade green, the colour so bold it stood out among the other apple trees. But the apples it grew…the apples. They were of a red hue so deep it looked as though they were coated in blood.
The farmer made sure to stay away from that tree, as his family had done for many generations before him. It stood at the end of the orchard, it’s wicked-looking branches thrown up towards the sky as though to welcome the darkness that hovered constantly above it. Even during the day it stood, shrouded in darkness, for the cloud that covered the area was always thick like smoke, acrid and heavy.
Every year during the apple-picking season that tree was left alone. It looked uninviting, the apples looked poisonous and held a menacing gleam, almost daring people to pick them. But none had been brave. The cheerful families and couples that came through always stopped short of the tree and would usually shiver as they gazed at the way it stood crooked. Like an animal on its death-bed.
This year was different. One family came through. They walked through the entire orchard, picking the ones they liked best and placing them in the wicker baskets they held, smiling and laughing at the simple pleasure of the task. The man and woman had a small child with them. She was maybe seven years old. Her cheeks were rosy with the crisp Autumn air rushing through the trees; her little rainbow coloured scarf flapping on one shoulder. She ran ahead with her small basket, all the way to the very end of the orchard.
She stopped at the base of the very tree whose appearance seemed to drive people away and smiled at it. There was a raven sitting in one of the branches and he cocked his little head at the sight of the small child, laughing at the strangeness of the tree. He watched as she reached out a hand and placed it on the trunk, feeling the life beneath her fingertips.
The tree seemed to breathe deeply as the trunk parted and a pale arm moved out slowly, a dark red apple in its outstretched hand.
“Take it. A gift. It’s yours. Once you have eaten the apple, take the seeds and plant them. It…