Short Stories, Tale Africa

Apple, My Darling

Apple Art
By Fungai Chigumbura, Zimbabwe:

The thunder in our souls sounded long before the lightning struck. Even as I drew those clean, long blades across the veins of our fulcrum—I knew the end had come. The rush of time had led us farther out than we even thought possible to begin with. And to what? Pain? Or, perhaps, it’s indistinguishable cousin, life. Yes. Both.

I wanted you from the moment I saw you. I’ve said that about many in my life, but it doesn’t make that truth any less stark. I saw you, oblivious to your charms, playing out the affectations of a mortal with the carelessness of a god. The sun seemed made only to light your actions, illuminate your steps as you walked into my life. That smile. Capturing all that escapes words in this world. Would that I could, I would carve that smile from your face and carry it with me always.

I stepped to you and we danced. Two-stepped into each other’s stories. Disconnected from the world and wandered beyond humanity into our own realm.

“You’re mine,” I told you.

“Always,” you would say.

And even as the words escaped your lips, I knew them to be a lie. For nothing so pure could ever give itself to me without deceit. I make the evil flee from me, and turn the good into evil. Flightless wretches are the only things that stay with me. All else finds its wings and disappears.

I may have seen that blanketing fate approach us, but I cared little. These moments may be fleeting, but my memories will set them in stone and cast a foundation unshakable. I could not bear to be without you—when I had to be away, I would find means to be with you. Windows in your house that never quite shut…the door that soundlessly came off its hinges…I thanked them all for their part in our play.

You shuddered in your sleep more than most. Did that perfect skin just pick up the cold more than others’ did, or did my touch follow you even into your dreams? Your chest rising and falling, each breath a reason for this world to keep spinning. When the moon fell on your face, I knew why God smiled. It was the refrain of a creator who cast the flawless in the same mud as the irredeemable.

Then the disease came. To your eyes. They no longer saw me clearly. Or maybe they began to perceive clearly for the first time. Your time was no longer mine or ours. It was never that, though. It was the small, stupid details that shattered my heart. The thoughts that followed afterwards were never anything but a twist in a sword already deeply plunged.

More fool you for thinking I did not see it. You know that you go nowhere where I do not walk. All that you deprived me of swirled into a darkness that swallowed all light and purged the universe of happiness.

I wanted to know the truth. Did your lover do for you more than I ever did? Did you call their name more than I could ever make you scream mine? Did they want you more than I did? How could they? They couldn’t. Not even I wanted you as much as I wanted you. I wanted you more than the air needed to stay in my body. I would never resign myself to be without you again…and you would never live without me.

I have never known when to stop. Not when playing with the other children, or when throwing my kitten in the air, or even when loving you. Why stop when time itself will call me to a halt when she fancies? The mirth of the fates has always been in giving taste but allowing no swallow. Not this time. Not with us. Fate be damned. My hands would not let go of this. If the refrain of life were uncertainty, the truth of our time would be death.

But not yet. You were a child in the wrong, and I, the sagacious parent would bring you back into my folds and envelop you in all my knowledge. Yet you struck out. Pushed away from my forgiveness and stumbled away from atonement.

It was then that you drew your knives across the throat of what we were. These thoughts were never meant for my mind only. They were to be ours—yours and mine, one in the shared feelings wrought from our lusts. It could not be so in this life. I saw it. This world was the dirtied vessel to a new wine. We must find each other in the next life. And I will get us there. You first.

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