apple orchard dreams
Her feet sunk into the feathery grass. Sun rays breached the barrier of blush coloured blossoms encircling her. Spindly branches beckoning, casting frisking shadows on the ground.
“Me?” She inquired, feigning flattery. “You’re asking me to dance?” A breeze whistled through the apple trees, as if in avowal.
“Alright, if you insist.”
Eyes fluttering closed, she could almost hear the faint piano notes accompanying her, and she
Homespun skirt swishing around her ankles. Wind tousling caramel-coloured hair, loosening the dandelion yellow silk ribbon. She was oblivious as it drifted away, lost in her daydream, as she orchestrated whimsical castles in her clouds.
She spun round, arms reaching out...
Eyes flutered open in bewilderment and met the stranger’s. Smiling cerulean eyes twinkled back at her.
“Well this is a nice welcoming festivity, but I must say, quite unconventional.”
She stared back, baffled. “E-excuse me? Who are you?”
“Ah, my mistake, I thought you would’ve known. I’m your new neighbor.”
“Oh? I hadn’t known we were to be having new acquaintances.” She nervously attempted to smooth her knotted hair with her fingers, flustered by this rather charming stranger. “Wait a moment, my ribbon.”
“I’m sorry, now it’s my turn to be confused.”
“My silk ribbon, I just recently received it for my birthday, and it’s gone, it must have blown away in the wind--”
“Blown away while you were foxtrotting with the shadows?” His eyes laughed at her, and oh goodness, his eyes. If only she could describe them without sounding clichéd.
“Yes, although I’d rather you didn’t make it sound so silly,” she muttered.
Before he could reply, a rumble of thunder pierced the previously crisp blue sky.
They simultaneously tilted their heads back to look up.
“That came out of nowhere,” the boy said.
“Just like you, how fitting. Now please help me find my ribbon before it gets drenched?”
As if on cue, raindrops promptly began to spatter on the March soil.
“Wonderful,” she groaned, as the sky grew darker.
“Hey, what’s wrong with a little rain?”
“I don’t have a problem with a little rain, in fact I quite enjoy it. Thunderstorms, however, frankly terrify me, so if you would be a gentleman and please help me home I would be incessantly grateful.”
“But your beloved ribbon?” Why, he was still laughing at her, the enthralling scoundrel.
“I’d rather not get electrocuted.”
He took her hand in his again and she stifled a shudder at his touch as they hurried through the apple orchard.
By the time they reached her home, rain had soaked them both to the bone.
“Well, thank you,” she stammered.
He bowed ostentantiously. “Of course. Will I see you again soon?”
“We’re neighbors, are we not?” She smiled.
“I’ll take that as a yes, I cannot wait to see you again, my hero.”
She scoffed. “My my, we are full of ourselves.”
“I’ll take my leave. I hope you find your ribbon soon.” He winked, and was gone. She opened her door and went inside.
He leisurely strode down the rain soaked road, humming to himself. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the yellow ribbon, and smiled.
I never wanted to move here. To this ugly house out in the middle of nowhere in a nowhere town. Where I don’t know anyone.
“It’ll be a fresh start, Champ,” says my Dad who obviously knows nothing about teenagers. I mean, starting a new school as a freshman where everybody already knows eachother? I didnt even have that many friends at my old school in the city. I may as well wear a neon sign that says, “loner”.
It took us a couple days to unpack the yellow U-Haul and hook-up appliaces.
“I know this past year has been rough on you.” My Dad says over our lunch of ramen and Ritz. At least we have the table set up. “I just want you to know-”
“Its not my fault,” I finish for him. He looks into his bowl of noodles, as if it might contain a manual for consoling a teenage son. I feel a sudden pang of guilt for the foul temper I’ve had the past several months. “It’s not your fault either, Pops,” I say.
“Thanks, son. You know, I saw a store of some kind about a mile down the road. By the apple orchard.” He reaches back for his wallet and hands me a ten. “Why dont you take a break and ride down. Check it out and grab us a couple sodas if they got some.”
He’s trying and I guess I should start trying too. This is our life now.
“Sure. Thanks, Dad.”
I grab my bmx from the garage and walk it out to the dirt road. I hop on and peddle as fast as I can. The sky looks split in two. One side is blue and sunny the other half has black clouds. The orchard comes into view and the store my dad mentioned is a little brown building that looks like it’s being held together by duct tape and a prayer. I sit on my bike wondering how many years past the expiration date on everything would be.
“You’re the new neighbor.” Says a sweet voice. I turn around and see the prettiest face I’d ever laid eyes on in my fourteen years of existance. She had eyes as green as the silk ribbon in her hair. “Well, I guess we’re your new neighbors. My name is Quinn, my family owns the feed store.” She said pointing her thumb over her shoulder.
This is probably where I tell her my name. My name? My name! “Daniel. I’m Daniel.”
“Nice to meet you, Daniel. Now that we’re properly introduced, can you help me move my table into the shed over there? Looks like a nasty summer storm’s coming in.” She squinted toward the black clouds rolling in.
Its then I notice her folding card table piled with sqares of yarn.
“I crocheted these myself. They’re pot holders. I’m not very good, yet, but was hoping to sell ’em. I’m saving up for a new saddle, but no luck so far.”
“How much?” I asked. I would have ridden home and came back with a hundred dollars if it came to it.
“I was asking five a piece, but I would give you a deal since we’re neighbors.”
“Hand made in the USA? I’ll pay you full price. I’ll take two.”
She laughed. My heart swelled at the sound. I would try my best to hear it again and again.
“I’ll take the two green ones.” My voice came out hoarse with nerves. I fell into her green eyes again as she met mine.
Thunder roared and fat drops began to drop from the sky. Tap, tap, taptaptap. We gathered the rest of her potholders in a black trash bag. Then we folded up the table together. She directed me to the shed while I carried it in. Rain was now torenchal. I ran for my bike laying in what was now mud.
“HEY DANIEL,” Quinn yelled over the storm.
I looked up, and a vision I would think about the rest of my life, was a girl with wet hair plastered to rosy cheeks and clover eyes calling out to me.
“School starts Monday, meet me here at seven and walk with me?”
My ears felt my grin. “I’ll be here.” I tucked my pot holders into my shirt and road my bike through the mud and rain.
My Dad was waiting on the front porch for me with a worried look. ” You okay? I didn’t know it was going to rain.”
It’s okay dad. It’s a summer storm. I kicked off my shoes by the front door and laid my purchase on the kitchen counter.
“What are those?” He asked.
“Hey, Dad?” I asked on my way to my room. He turned to me. I smiled, “I think you were right. A fresh start, was a good idea.”
Very few know of the legendary romance of the two lovers Zarnaab and Aarman who dared to commit suicide due to the rivalry of their families getting in the way of their magical and all-consuming love for each other, the only remnants of which are the two blue silk ribbons that hang on the branches of one of the several apple trees standing in the lonely orchard somewhere in the middle of cold Murree blanketed by pure white snowsnow.
In the monsoon, when the rains flood the land and send the locals scurrying off into their basements for shelter, the tree stands upright, swaying with the force of the wild wind, withstanding the ferocious storm. Yet, the strings remain there, untouched, not having blown away in the midst of the season.
After about 15 years, a new couple moves into the house next door, looking for a change of scenery, away from the suffocating world of smoke and dirt, into nature. The husband gazes out the hazy window at the apple tree, dotted with red, looking like something out of a painting. He rubs his gloved hands together, takes his wife’s much tinier hand in his, and makes his way to the tree.
While she stands in awe of the pretty tree, he gathers a ball of snow in his hands and strikes her from behind. She laughs and tackles him to the ground and they roll around in the snow for God knows how long before a snowflake gets sucked into her nose and she blows it out with a sneeze.
They return back to their cottage and cuddle in front of the fireplace, draped in thick blankets. The strings flutter in the breeze.