Biting the Apple
It was sunny and the breeze allowed a light feeling of peace where the heat of the sun was not shaded by the trees. The beautiful town was called Iden and there lived a farming community. It was a modern paradise, all farmers sold their fresh products for cheap and in plastic free containers which were then re-used for every weekly shop. Everyone who lived there lived a happy and content life. All the inhabitants knew each other well and always helped one another when someone was struggling. It was an unspoken truth and a rule to never break. No one would ever desire to leave, in fact no one ever travelled to the big cities around Iden, but in the air there was a desire for change, summer break was coming to an end and this meant that the town had to start preparing for the harvesting season and for a big celebration to feast over the crop collected that year.
Henry, the leader of the the youth harvesting committee lived in the highest hill of Iden, behind his humble mansion, acres and acres of land extended in infinity, welcoming hundreds of chickens and hens on one side, cows on the other and many other animals running freely and playing together. Goats were jumping and running across the fields and the sheep enjoyed resting under the shade of the big trees. Henry was young, but he always knew how to make a difference. People liked him. He was never arrogant, though some thought he could afford to: he was beautiful and came from a wealthy family, but he was always kind, in fact this year he was part of the committee to organize the festival, one of biggest events in Iden.
It was a peaceful day, and he was sitting on the back garden writing and making calls. He often caught himself smiling at Lachesi. She was walking across the field of vegetables and picking all the ripe tomatoes and jams* to then place them inside a wooden basket resting on the stone stairs at the entrance of the fence surrounding the garden. As she was placing down the vegetables her top revealed a long scar on her right hip. Whenever she got asked about how she got it, she always started blathering made up stories, they often would change,sometimes it would be ‘nothing, just scar from when I learnt how to cycle’ or ‘it happened at the farm a long time ago’, however she often tried to change subject quickly and dismissing the question with a flick of her hand in the air, as if there was a small fly bothering her.‘Thank you for helping me Lachesi, I don’t know what I would do without you’ he said, as he was walking towards her. She smiled and kissed him. Lachesi often thought of how different their life could be if they did not have each other. They always shared a lot of time together, night walks, love poems and secrets that ought to remain that way, secrets that no one should ever find out.
Later that day, Lachesi went home and after a long deserved shower she headed downstair to have dinner with her mum. ‘How was you day?’ she said while hugging her mum who was aimlessly trying to push back tears from cutting onions for the soup. ‘it was good’ she hesitated ‘ I saw Joanna walking around town today, I thought I was dreaming! she paused ‘Adá* I think you should call her sometimes, you know. check on her.’ Lachesi shrugged uncomfortably, that idea was not appealing to her and her mum noticed. ‘Ngwa, Honey it’ll be ready soon, could set the table please? she smiled.
After dinner Lachesi was reading in bed. Her phone buzzed shortly, it was a text from her dad. He left last year for a better investigating job outside of Iden, he always said nothing happened there, he was bored and that hurt her. She read it.
‘ I miss you, goodnight Adá xx’
She texted him back sending him her love and then took some time scrolling around her phone, looking at pictures with her old friend Joanna. She remembered school afternoons that they spent together hardly concentrating on the homework and gossiping about people in school. Lachesi missed her and although she was happy with Henry she needed another friend. That night the nostalgia pushed her, so she texted her a simple ‘hi’ she would think of what to say in the morning or regret it, so after tossing and turning with excitement and nervousness, she fell asleep recalling what it was like to be Joanna’s friend.
On the other side of town, Joanna was about to turn her phone off when she got the text. It has been such a long time since they talked, school was over and there were not any excuses for Lachesi to text her. She was biting her lips while thinking of possible scenarios that would have made Lachesi text her and none of them were quite realistic. So she turned her phone off, as she decided to deal with it later, with a clearer head, it was time for bed. That night she dreamt of her brother Kristian and of crackling fire.
The next day after checking her phone frantically, Lachesi called Joanna. something pushed her to do it, but she never expected her to pick up. ‘Hello?’, on the other side of the line Joanna was equally confused ‘it’s funny you called me, I was about to text you back’ she said was not. Lachesi took a deep breath, trying to grasp courage in the air, ‘ I know this is a little strange, you know, us talking, but I was wondering if we could have lunch together sometimes and… catch-up’. Joanna frowned and then smiled, she felt surprise of how easy it fell to say yes. So she did.
Lachesi and Joanna had not kept in contact after the incident, and even in town they never ran into each other a part from local meetings or other events that involved their community. After the death of Joanna’s older brother she was never the same, many said. She began to spend all of her time in her farmhouse working and feeding the animals; she lost contact with her friends, although she was very popular and beautiful, but no one ever looked for her after the funeral, it was too painful for everyone. Kristian and Joanna looked so alike, so much that people thought they were twins, they also shared the same values and always put their family first, maybe the secret to their family fortune, which has been tainted after people found out about the causes of his death. They often said ‘A young man dying from drug abuse, what kind of parewould allow that to happen?’ Joanna and Lachesi sat at the back of her house, Ava, Lachesi’s mum prepare jollof rice for them before leaving for work. ‘I’m glad you reached out to her Adá, you need some friends’ offended by what her mum said Lachesi told her that she had Henry ‘ and just because we’re going to talk doesn’t mean that we’ll be friends again’. ‘ well I hope you will, Henry is not enough.’ During lunch Lachesi told Joanna of what her mum said and they would laugh at the bland honesty of Ava, she never sugar coated it. ‘I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but I need to share it with you’
Lachesi was scared, but she said it anyways. She told her about how the fire in Joanna’s parents shop happened ‘ Kristian and I were smoking, and he had the keys to the shop so he thought we could hang out inside, he lit up another one, but instead of smoking it, he left it on the old newspapers at the back, I told him to put it out, but he wasn’t listening and then we left… I’m sorry, I think he wanted to cause the fire, I took the blame because I didn’t want him to get in trouble with your parents’. After she finished her confession, she looked up to Joanna, she did not look angry, but pleased to hear what she had to say ‘ I’m glad you told me the truth’ Lachesi smiled and thought, one truth at a time.
It was the night of the festival and she was still on a high for coming clean to Joanna about what happened with Kristian. However, this also meant that other things had to be confessed. Lachesi was wearing a beautiful orange long satin dress and was walking across the field towards Henry.‘Hey, can we talk in private please?’ ‘Sure!’ he said confused a Lachesi’s urgency. He noticed that she has been acting a little weird lately, he did not like that Joanna and her were growing so close, bu he never said much about it. He did not want to seem jealous.‘ I think we should talk to Joanna together’ she looked at him, straight in the eyes ‘ We should tell her the truth’. Henry opened his mouth in a small ‘o’ in shock he grabbed her face gently and smelled her ‘you’ve been drinking, are you drunk?’ He started to freak out ‘no, are you actually out of your mind? We can’t do that honey, we just can’t’ ‘Henry I am going to tell her my side of the story.’ she burst into tears ‘I just can’t keep all of this t myself anymore, I think we’re better off without each other.’ as she was walking away she started looking for Joanna.‘You’re making a mistake’ he said ‘ you’re just hypnotized by Joanna… you love her more than you love me.’ He shook his head, trying to turn those feeling of insecurities away, he did not know what he was upset about the most, if it was her breaking up with her or the possibility of er telling the truth to Joanna. ‘who do you think gave me the drugs anyways? I was always around your house remember? before your dad left…’ he paused, he wanted her to think and remember of those times, but it only brought back tears to Lachesi’s eyes ‘your mum is a dealer’.
Lachesi stopped ‘what. are. you talking about Henry? that is very low of you! honestly just, just stop!’ Henry laughed ‘ Whatever… you know it’s true. Just see it how it is for once’ this time his smile was less arrogant, it almost looked like a plea ‘ I love you Li’, she walked away in silence, but her head hurt, she felt confused and angry. They almost forgot they were at a party and it was catching people’s attention. The festival was a success everyone was dancing or eating and some of the adults were drinking too much. Joanna was sitting with her family when Lachesi approached them, she hadn’t talked to Kristian’s family since the funeral, she felt as if they resented her. ‘Joanna told us about the incident at the shop, we’re sorry we got mad at you. it wasn’t your fault.’ Joanna’s mum grabbed Lachesi’s hand and squeezed it gently ‘ I hope you can forgive us’ Lachesi squeezed her hand back ‘of course I can’
Later that night I was still walking around town with Lachesi, I could sense something was wrong, she seemed tense. Mum said she saw her and Henry arguing after dinner. I never really liked him or them together, but I couldn’t tell her that, it wasn’t my place. ‘i need to tell you something, it’s about Kristian.’ I tried to stay calm, the breeze kept me cool, but it was still warm and I could feel her hands sweating on mine. I wished people stopped talking about him all the time, and then I feel selfish for feeling that way. I needed to move on, but I listened to her anyways. ‘I was mad about people blaming me for the fire and being mean to me, so I told him I was going to tell what really happened and he started freaking out and he broke up with me, just before your birthday party’ I think we both felt angry and upset, we said things that we didn’t mean and I just pushed him too far with the stress, he couldn’t handle it. I saw him with Henry taking drugs, but he gave him too much. I’m so sorry Joanna’ at this point Lachesi was hugging me so tightly I couldn’t breath, but I felt free, I finally felt closure.‘I wanted him to tell you that I didn’t start the fire so that you could forgive me Joanna.’ I hugged her back, I wished that I could free her too, of all this weight she’s been carrying, but I knew that all I could do was be there and listen ‘It’s not your fault he died.’
Lachesi’s mum was looking at the window with a certain rush, as she was waiting for someone. Lachesi walked in dropping her bag and jacket on the floor. ‘Adá you scared me, what happened?’ as she was walking closer to Lachei she noticed her daughter’s red puffy eyes. Lachesi looked up at her mum, her eyes were cold and hurt. ‘Please talk to me’ she caressed her face, but Lachesi pushed her hand down, she did not want to talk.‘I’m leaving tomorrow. I need to be with my dad and I am not up for compromising’. Ava surprised at her daughter’s assertiveness laughed under her breath hoping not to infuriate Lchesi more.‘Is this about you and Henry? I saw you too arguing at the party. This is why you need more friends, you need someone to talk some sense into you Adá, you can’t leave like that…’ ‘Mum would you just stop! this is about you being the dealer that sold drugs to minors’ Lachesi started sobbing as the words left her mouth and could barely speak, It felt so hurtful to voice these thoughts out loud so she whispered‘Mum those drugs killed Kristian, do you understand?’ Ava shook her head, so pained that her daughter could think that of her. ‘No. you can’t blame for that. he was always going after “the adrenaline rush”, you said it yourself. He lost control. It’s not my fault. How could you blame for that, you know you pushed him, don’t try to make yourself feel better’. ‘Is this way dad left?’‘He didn’t love you enough to take you with him’ Lachesi laughed ‘or he was trying to protect you, it would have looked too suspicious if I left with him’ she paused and realised something ‘ he would have had to turn you in, that’s way he left isn’t it?’‘you watch too much tv’‘I’m right mum. I’m going to leave tomorrow.’ She headed to her room upstairs and locked the door behind her. That night they both did not sleep, at the opposite sides of the house they prepared their bags with only essentials: passport, wallet a couple of outfits that would keep them warm and their favourite book. Lachesi’s was a poems’ book, one of the pages was folded to her favourite, she read it and she thought of tomorrow, of walking away to start a new life.
“She came from a long, long way, but I saw her at last, walking, my daughter, my girl, across the fields,” -Demeter, Carol Ann Duffy
Kristian’s perspective – flashback
It was one of the first times Lachesi was sleeping over at my house and she picked as if we were going on a weekend trip ‘ what’s all this stuff, this bag is so big!’ ‘ stop laughing, I just didn’t want to forget anything.’ she was kicking the pink rucksack around the entrance of the house, she stopped and run towards me to hug me.I knew it took a lot to convince her parents, but I guess it was easier to convince them since Joanna is her friend and we lived in the same house. They were good friends, but i just wished Joanna would leave us alone every once in a while, We didn’t need a third wheel.‘Li?’ Joanna closed the bathroom door behind her ‘Aww this is like a pijama party!’ I stopped her before she would start listing all the face mask she owns ‘Nah Joanna, this is like my girlfriend is sleeping over’. ‘ Well she’s also my girlfriend, or she was before you decided to ruin things between us’ She hugged Lachesi out of my arms ‘Why don’t you go annoy someone else Joanna, you’re not wanted here’ I was trying to stay as calm as possible, but the air was already tense. My sister would always be so annoying when Lí was around and just start saying all this things to annoy me, her jealousy irritated me. Why couldn’t she understand that there was a time for ‘Guys, you need to chill out, seriously. This is not cute’ We all broke into a nervous laugh, I knew she was uncomfortable, se I took her bag and headed into my room, with my sister’s angry eyes fixed on my back.
‘Do you want to smoke?’ she was lying in my bed, looking outside the window ‘okay’ she sprinted back up and was about to open the window, but I stopped her. ‘Let’s go for a walk around town.’ Lachesi blew the last draw and looked towards me. ‘Hey, you have your sneaky face on’ she was pretty when she couldn’t stop laughing, it was contagious. ‘Well I have the keys to my parent’s shop, we could go hang out there?’ I could tell she felt like it wasn’t a good idea. ‘Come on let’s go.’ I grabbed her hand and helped her on the steps down. ‘Well isn’t this romantic’ I lit up some candles, Lachesi laughed and I started to walk closer to her and leant in for a kiss.
Lachesi started freaking out , so she pushed him back, but he kept coming back not getting the message. ‘I’m not ready’ he looked at her confused and started kissing her again. ‘ I mean it, I don’t want to’. Kristian stopped and turned behind, Lachesi could feel his anger building up. In a second she was on the floor, the glass table broken and the candles were already a starting a fire. ‘You’re bleeding’ Kristian was looking at her, unable to recognise his hands or his voice. She looked at him scared ‘I’m sorry’ Kristian was walking towards her, ‘No, don’t touch me’.
One month after Lachesi’s departure
It’s been a month since her body was found and my parents went to jail. I never thought that anger and sadness could push someone so far. They made a bad decision, they all did. I smiled to Lachesi, and handed her a jumper, she was shaking. You’re safe now.
After the harvesting party Henry called my parents to explain what happened on the night of the incident, but by the morning Ava was already gone. It didn’t take too long for them to find her, but I wasn’t expecting them to turn in to the police. My parents always taught me that whatever you do comes back to you and the irony of the situation didn’t make sense. It was hard to accept what had happened. When they sat down for breakfast on that morning I knew something was wrong, there was a viavai of people all day and then it became weeks until now.Lachesi motherless and my parents in jail, a life was paid for the price of another one, the same one that my parent’s dodgy business has taken, without wanting to. There has been enough suffering that had to be put to an end. There could finally be peace in Iden.
Here are the prompts which inspired my writing: