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This one’s another entry for one of Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds Writing Challenges. We were given two lists of twenty words, picking one from each list to create a random title. After a day of brainstorming, the final line popped into my head. So, here you are. It’s a flash piece, really. Not even 500 words, but I like it. I hope you do too.

 

“Orchard After”

 

They met as children, wandering across the meadow that connected their parents’ farms. They became friends instantly, each thrilled to have the other to talk to, to share in the collective adventure that is youth. Rain or shine, they would meet. Every day during the summer, and every free moment during the school year, they were together. One would wait for the other at the old apple tree in the middle of the meadow.

Borrowing tools and parts from their parents, they built a tree house. It would shelter them from the rain and shade them from the sun more than the tree could alone. The apples fed them when they wished to remain away from home. They took great care to plant the seeds when they could, and in time, they sprouted.

They grew older, and closer together. High school brought them a series of new challenges. They each began work on the farm, learning the trades of their mothers and fathers. In between tasks in the fields, they tended the burgeoning orchard that was now growing Soon, the summer day arrived when they shared their first kiss, hidden from a thunderstorm inside their tree house.

Time passed, and their love grew stronger. Though they could no longer both fit inside the tree house, they could still spend a hot afternoon sleeping beside each other in the shade of the tree’s branches. School came to an end, but still they stayed on, neither willing to part for more than a few days at a time. As their parents grew older, they took over the farms together, consolidating and focusing on the apple orchard.

Years became decades, and the two grew old. They still made and sold apple pie and cider with apples that they grew, having sold the rest of their parents’ farmland, save for what had been the meadow. Children visiting the orchard would play in the tree house while the grownups shopped and sampled. In the quiet evenings, the lovers would meet again, beneath the tree where it had all began. They would sit and hold hands and talk about how quickly the world had gone by.

One winter day, it was time for them to say their final goodbyes to each other. They kissed one final time, pledged their love. The cold took them both, there under the branches of the ancient apple tree, fingers entwined as the roots below. They were buried there, as they had wished for years to lie together.

And as the snow came down, and the years passed, the lovers were forgotten, and all that remained was the orchard after.

 

 

 

 

This is my entry for Sonia’s┬álatest writing challenge. The summer competition gave us the goal of writing a short story (500 words or less) based on a photo. Here’s “Corn.”

 

Green is everywhere. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up. There’s been rain recently, and I can feel the moisture in the soil, smell it all around me. Rain’s scent lingers in the gentle breeze. The thunder’s rumble in the distance matches the one in my stomach, and I realize how far the storm has gone and how long ago my last meal was.

Corn. That’s the other overwhelming smell. Damp corn leaves. The corn is tasseled, but the ears on the stalks are still immature, still some time away from being ready for harvest. Good. I don’t have to worry about some poor farmer coming across me when I’m in this state. It’s unlikely that anyone will be coming through the rows this time of year, though. The stalks are far too tall for any wheeled vehicle to come through without crushing them, at least aside from a combine, and again, the maturity of the ears has already eliminated this possibility. I’m not certain where I am. The sun is still all but invisible behind the heavy clouds, but its position tells me that it is early evening. The worst of the storm must be moving on to the east of me, carrying with it more than any farmer would ever want. A heavy green tint to the rear of the storm system hints at the hail that lurks within. I turn my eyes toward more immediate dangers.

My backpack, or more accurately a backpack with my name on it, is on the ground, a row to my right. Examining it for any signs of tampering, I find none. It seems to be fine, so I open it. Inside, I find a flashlight, a jacket, a pocket knife, and a plastic bag with a piece of paper in it. The paper is folded four times and is written upon in black ink. The simple script reads “You have until sunrise tomorrow. You know what you have to do.”

I shrug and nod, fairly certain now that my every move is being watched, despite the apparent solitude.

Without further thought, I shoulder the backpack and stride into the green, vanishing between the rows. I leave boot prints in the damp earth behind me, following the setting sun.

I hope that I can make it.