Comfort Me with Apples
Tonight, she was sure of it: she’d been entered.
The stillborns and miscarriages of her recent past mocked her.
In the still of each evening, she heard them cackling and cooing as they romped through the deserted and darkened nursery. Vases occasionally tumbled and shattered.
She saw darting movements out of the corner of her eyes. Sometimes an entire child-image. Other times, just the quick shadow of a tiny foot as it whisked around a corner.
Of course, he didn’t believe her. Not that he was cold or indifferent. Another man might have deserted her by now, leaving her yoked to barren solitude.
But he tried to make her laugh. To forget.
But they would never let her forget.
Each night in her dreams, she was assailed by tiny, blue faces. Shriveled. Accusing. Milky eyes staring up at her. Small monkey hands that reached up out of her bloodied bedclothes until she sat up screaming and he would comfort her, easing her back down until her bird’s heart returned to normal.
Tonight, another being had warmed itself beside her. Waiting to be invited in.
She put down the potato she was peeling and inhaled deeply. A sweet aroma of ripening apples entered her and she had wept. Another had chosen her.
In the hallway, she heard a picture frame slide down the wall and smash on the hardwood floor.
When he returned from work, she’d told him what had happened and what she wanted to do. He’d listened and agreed, as she knew he would.
She entered his study. He was sitting at his blood red writing table, staring out the window as the sun descended behind the Parliament building.
“Are you ready?” she asked him.
He turned to her and held out a red rose and a tightly wound bundle of sage. “Yes.”
They went to the fireplace and she thrust the sage bundle into the glowing embers. Its musty scent immediately filled the apartment.
“Come,” she said.
They unlocked the nursery door and entered, the smoking sage held out before her in a shaking hand. The end of the sage bundle glowed an unearthly orange in the semi-darkness. The smoke scent mingled with another, more ancient stench of corruption.
She grabbed his hand and strode to the very center of the room, sage held high, and screamed. She ran to each corner and thrust the smoking bundle upward. She demanded to be left alone, to be free of unnamed children.
The walls shook, the floor buckled. And outside, an unnatural orange glow filled the sky.
The woman and the man held each other tightly until the room stopped convulsing.
They walked back to the blood red writing desk in his study.
She draped herself onto his lap and lay back.
She took his hand and pulled it to her waist.
“Here,” she said. “Put your hand here. I smelled apples and then he was living right here.”
The man cradled her stomach and kissed her.
A delicious silence settled on the house as the orange glow faded to purple in the west.
She looked up at him with shining, wet eyes.
“Just like apples,” she said.
Today I was at the home of a close friend. We were discussing books and life etc. Conversation turned to whether or not there were such ‘things’ as individual human souls. I was of the opinion that the notion of eternal souls is a delusion (not that I am in any way qualified to make such a statement.) My friend told me of her experiences with failed and successful pregnancies and I was fascinated. Moved, I wrote this story.
Image of incredible Chagall painting by Shawn Rossi