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WHAT IF?

What if you were given an apple by a stranger? What if you decided to eat it, despite the potentially poor decision that could be? What if that apple said your name when you bit into it? What else might it say? 
Begin writing this prompt by describing a stranger, approaching you with an apple. Describe the stranger. Then describe the apple. Describe the taste and smell and weight of it. Then let your freewrite lead you to the end of the prompt, and to what this stranger’s apple says to you while you’re eating it. 

The Forbidden Fruit
by Rushabh Shah 

A suspicious looking man slithered up to me,
Just like in the stories of old.
He gave me an apple, he said it was for free,
Danger, I foretold.

But as it turns out, he wasn’t that bad,
A charming young man was he.
“If to your collection you’d like to add,
You’ll have to ask that tree.”

The choice was up to me;
What was I to do with this gift?
It rested upon my palm like royalty,
And what, with its golden shine, that title seemed to fit.

Too sweet for cider, too beautiful to be sliced,
And too elite to be a smoothie.
It was starting to feel a little overpriced,
Until it spoke to me.

“If you want to be free,”
It said, as it started to glow.
“Don’t take a bite from me.”
Really? Tell me something I don’t know.

It pleaded, “Please don’t misunderstand and please don’t interrupt,”
But I had had enough and forbade him from talking to me.
After all these years I wish I hadn’t be abrupt,
It was never the apple, it had always been the tree.

 

Eyes Above, by Gina Savastano

In a field of spring grass,
grass still dark with neglected leaves,
people sit on blankets in the sun.

White hair falls over a shoulder, and
the thin old man sweeps the strands back,
long used such nuisances.

His body has been a nuisance for too long.

He bends down hands on knees, then
reaches for something— I cannot
see what he sees, only his
strangely long hair and bent form— and straightens, and turns right
towards me, as though he knows I watch.

A witness, that’s what he sees, to this curtain call.

His shuffling steps disturb the grass before
me, and then an apple plomps onto the
blanket beside my legs. We do not speak.

It is the perfect apple, matte red,
and round, and smooth as glass.
Unflinchingly, I bite into its flesh.

Its flesh speaks to me, on my tongue.
I hear my name as if it is whispered
into my ear, and I begin to chew.

Each crunch of my teeth, into crisp flesh
tells me a secret. I’m told when I will
die, as all earthly things must.

The flesh slides down my throat without protest,
and I take another bite. Crunch. Two
voices, familiar but not, speak to each
other. My parents’ first words to each other.

Another bite, and I hear what my
heartbeat sounded like in the womb,
the way my mother’s footsteps flowed
into what some would call ears.

Then the honk of a horn, the sound of
a car traveling. The murmurs of children
leaving school, a weatherman on the radio,
the ashes of my mother’s cigarette being knocked off, burnt paper and spent tobacco
falling away, parts of a whole lost.

I hear the rustle of the sheet being
pulled back from my uncle’s body, and
how my mother’s breath hitches at the sight
of her brother’s face, its familiarity stolen
by time.

The funeral director suggests a floral prayer
card to my grandmother for her own funeral.
I play my Nintendo DS, pretending to not see
my mother’s pointless wedding band, its stone
twisted to the side of her ring finger.
I pretend I do not hear the exhaustion in
my grandmother’s voice, nor the strength.

When I feel the last bit of skin against
my lips, I pause, as though it is
a passionate kiss. I know not why.

The flesh was sweet, but wherever is left
is not mine to take, even if the man
with white hair and sky-sent eyes gifted it.

Before I pull my teeth and lips away, the apple
speaks my name, beckoning me
towards an uncertainty I cannot acknowledge.

The first apple

The last apple.
Who dared to bite into it?
Oh, you did, didn’t you Laura?

Oh, you’re surprised a stranger knows your name?
You’re surprised an apple has been offered to you?
By a stranger?
Surprised, despite all you learned from your parents and from your life—

You bite into it?
Surprised the taste of demons (soggy Band-Aids and the wrong tip
of the pent you put in your mouth one afternoon when you thought every-
thing would still be okay) and the smell of scarecrows (terrible flannel: you
remember it, his shoulder inside it pressed into your face) and the brocade—
those golden threads that choked you after you were felt so pleased
with yourself?

I know you. I’m the stranger and also the apple. I’m the stranger wrapped in
camouflage, canvas. Your father’s home! Get your toys off the floor and wipe
the Kool-Aid off your face with a dishcloth NOW!

He was a stranger. He held out an apple. A gift he brought back to me
from a place far away, where
he carried a weapon and wrote angry poems (only my mother
read those, and then she threw them away).

Laura. My name, which the apple whispered to me with the taste of sweet
fibrousness, shaved animal. A lamb ran across a field for its life as
a shepherd called out its name with a knife. The peel of it—how
that stiff silk got stuck between my
two front teeth, and he made fun of me. When

I smiled, I smiled with it. I always will. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted.
It knew my name.
It told me to its core (wooden, with seeds I ate—slick
beady infant-animal eyes that continue to grow inside of me) that, to be heard, I’d
need to learn to shout more loudly over the sound of the helicopter landing
with my father on it. A stranger. An apple.

And, if you wouldn’t mind telling us so many years later, Laura—
why did it surprise you hear so much to hear the apple of stranger
say your name? And, as we now know, despite the surprise
of that—you ate it.