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Warmed Inside

· 2 min read
Patrick Pace

An apple

Two statues, male and female, sat back to back on a dais, staring at the ground. Stone filled the figures’ ears, and grit their eyes. Baby birds chirped in nests on their shoulders. Children skipped around them, crouched upon them, imagined they were rock monsters. A girl with braids in her hair danced nearby, but they caught her attention, and she stilled. She moved closer, circling them, like Sherlock Holmes in a summer dress, peering into their eyes, tracing the rough curvature of their hands. She brushed away a bird’s nest from the male’s shoulders and with a spit-wet finger rubbed droppings from the other’s hair. Then she turned, hopped off the dais, and ran out of sight. After a few minutes, she returned with a smile and an apple, a Gala, which she placed in the male statue’s palm. She kissed its cheek and stepped back, watching. Minutes passed, but the girl only blinked. But then the stony form stirred. Like waking up on Saturday morning, it blinked, blinked, blinked and bowed its gaze toward its open hand, then to the girl, who was still smiling. And after a few gravelly breaths, it brought the apple to its mouth and crunched a stony bite. And as the apple’s flesh moistened the dust on his lips and as its nectar warmed his insides, he cracked. Like earthquakes, his husk broke apart in shards, revealing human skin underneath. And looking around, the man saw a promenade, abuzz with persons. A grain-field cascaded in waves to his left, an apple-orchard filled the horizon on his right, and workers tended a vineyard before him. He inhaled, drawing in the scent of crushed grapes and manure. He tilted his ear to birds singing and children laughing. And closing his eyes, he felt a breeze, which blew dust and fragments from his shoulders. Opening them, he caught sight of the female form behind him, its eyes fixed on a rocky past. And with apple in hand, he turned to face it, his pink lips moving toward her stone cheek.