An Apple a Day by Emily Claire Utley

The glass apple sat in the middle of the table, shaking in small bursts from the impact of his fingers as he drums them on the black surface. He gave it to me after the first time he left me and came back. He sits across from me, blocking the light from the window that normally causes? prisms of green and red to cast over the wood. I feel the need to weep, to move, to scream, to burst. But there’s too much energy in those things. I have a butter knife, but no butter, so I take the blunt edge to the table. He doesn’t stop me.

He repeats himself. Even if I hadn’t heard, his bag sits next to the door with his stupid florescent green tennis shoes propped on top. The laces are undone, as if he would put them on and run out the door. Run from the darkness my temper had painted onto the off-white stucco walls. Run from the cracks my paranoia had etched into the mirrors. Run from the weeping that bounced between wooden floors and concrete ceiling even after I’d stopped crying.

“Did you hear me, Autumn?”

His eyes, the same green as the apple stem, shift from my blank face and the furious movement of the butter knife, now carving a long trunk. I love apples. My mother used to tell me, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” If I could grow an apple tree, maybe I’d live forever.

“Autumn, are you listening to anything I’m saying?” he says and pounds the table once with his fist. The little apple topples to its side.

“You met someone.” ?My tone is flat.?

“That’s not what I said.” He clenches a fist and then releases it. He does this when I’m making things up for the sake of seeing our flesh go up in flames. I’m addicted to the way it burns.

“Didn’t have to,” I say. I consider backtracking. I consider saying the right things. I understand. I’ll call you sometime when things are better. My mother used to tell the doctors I didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. That’s her definition of crazy. My definition of crazy is knowing what’s right and wrong and choosing wrong. Every. Damn. Time. I continue to carve, the sharp edges of my mind creating the sharp edges of a branch.?

He gets up from the table, approaches with hands raised in surrender. I let him touch my shoulder, but the contact cracks the bark that is my skin. I twitch. He delivers a kiss as delicate as the apple. My lips tingle, and I taste the words, I love you. I crave an apple.?

“Maybe when you’re back on your meds. Maybe when you’re back to yourself.”? He doesn’t look at the way the sun makes my own irises glow. He stares at his own hands, foreign to him now they aren’t touching me.

I continue to carve, the cheap Ikea wood breaking up as if it were meant to fall apart. I love this table. I don’t love him. Maybe I do. I do when I’m off my meds, which is why I dumped the pills into their white porcelain grave. My love for him came back in a torrent of obsession and sexual veracity. But he doesn’t love me without the pills.?

He doesn’t put on the tennis shoes. He tucks them under his arm, picks up the bag, and shuts the door behind him. I’m deaf to the click of the bolt as he locks the door behind him. To keep others out or to keep me in––I’m not sure. I carve. A fully formed tree develops. An apple tree. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Emily Utley

Emily Utley

Emily Claire Utley has an MFA in Creative Writing and works as a freelance editor in North Carolina. Previous work can be found in Gravel Magazine, Apeiron Review, and Bartleby Snopes. You can find her on Twitter @mleclaire
Emily Utley

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