A cool, autumn breeze was my only companion as I escaped quietly and quickly over the familiar country road. No cars. No children. No husband. No following dogs. Just me, thankfully. The freshness of the air filled my lungs as I welcomed the cold and the solitude. It was not like me to enjoy the cold. It was not like me to wrap myself in such melancholy, but here I was, wanting to step away from a sad situation. Financial worries and loneliness had gotten to me this summer, and I was glad to see the season change. Although I had learned to love the brilliantly colored leaves and the thick carpet of red and gold across the Appalachian Mountains, I was never before so happy to see autumn, to see this stressful summer end. Maybe some of my preoccupations and heartaches would fade with the waning sun.

Moving more determinedly now, and then breaking into a light jog, I let my mind wander through a forest of fears. What could I do about the mounting bills? How could I remain loving to my family when I felt anger for some of their selfish choices? How could I bear the strain of dwindling interest in my marriage alongside my increasing need for closeness? What would soothe this agony of feeling unprotected, exposed and unwanted against new and younger acquaintances. Of our 17 years of marriage, the last 10 years had been difficult. What was to become of us? What about the kids? Should I just chuck it all and start over somewhere else? My eyes burned and watered in the wind. And then I sprinted. I ran to free myself from the hurtful things that imprisoned my youthful spirit.

When I was seventeen, I had great plans to see the world, to be brilliant and beautiful despite my shyness and uncertainty. At age eighteen, I met him. I pursued him. I won him easily. And then I wanted a wedding, a family, and no one could tell me that I was moving too fast into the adult world. I knew what I wanted. Or did I? Now, looking introspectively and in hindsight, I should have waited. I should have traveled. I should have had the experience of being pursued. I should have learned so much more. I should have been a different kind of person. A braver person. But I was always fearful- too afraid to make tough choices or to go out on a limb into the wild.

But the age when wildness was acceptable had passed me by. I had turned into tame thirty- eight. Now the only wild thing about me was my overexerted thumping heart, which signaled the need for a slower pace. The breeze caught my face again, and a sweet, earthy odor took my attention. My feet walked along the right side of the road through crumbling asphalt and underneath a fence-row of ancient apple trees. They loomed above me, making craggy, gnarled fingers in the orange and blue twilight sky. All was silent except for a slight buzzing at the ground near the roots of the trees. I squinted in the dimness to find the source, and saw a swarm of yellow jackets feeding on the fallen apples that had rolled away from the grassy edge of this meadow onto the rocky gravel where I stood. Young and sweet fruits had unwillingly fallen from glory, rolled too swiftly through the grass, bruised and broken, some pulverized and pulpy, still and silent below insect eyes, creatures of twilight.

I knew how that felt– falling, hurting, bursting. The analogy was too strong, and my legs buckled. I sat sobbing on the side of the road, weeping beside the ruined apples, weeping for my spent youth, my lost love, my unrealized dreams. For a while, all I could do was stare at the massacred fruit and shudder involuntarily. The yellow jackets buzzed around my huddled form, diving at me, prepared to protect their juicy prey. It did not frighten me. I was too numb to feel the stings. Time was passing. Twilight lost the battle to evening sky. Almost too dark to see, I searched and began to look at the apples individually, one by one. Some of them were lost causes, smashed and rotted beyond help or recognition. But some of them were salvageable. I knelt and began crawling through the mess, gathering a few good apples. I could save just a small number before it was too late. I lifted the bruised and intact fruits to my nose, smiling to myself and savoring the aroma. I stowed them in my jacket pockets, then moved to my feet.

A final survey of the area brought one more apple to my attention, red and green, small but still firm. I grabbed it and rubbed it against my sleeve, then took a bite. Yes, at least this one was still sweet. My unlikely harvest bulged from my pockets, a misshapen mass on my abdomen. I had done what I could do, and that was enough; there was no use in mourning too long. I had to give some things a second glance. I had to cherish the skin I was in. I had to walk home. I had to be better than my state of mind, to be brave, strong, firm, and sweet, like the best of these fallen apples.

6 responses to “Fallen Apples at Twilight”

  1. julieblainemorris Avatar

    Maybe I should just entitle this one “My Mid Life Crisis” and be done with it!

  2. Jennie in Vegas Avatar
    Jennie in Vegas

    Don’t judge your life on how you feel this day. No one knows tomorrow. No one has tomorrow promised. Just enjoy today. If you can’t enjoy today, then appreciate today.

    We’ve all had days when we would have liked to throw in the towel, but then your hands would be empty. Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time, one minute at a time, one decision at a time. It will all fall into place, as long as you ask God for guidance, strength and comfort.

    May His everlasting love supply all the love that you think you are missing.

  3. Beulah Avatar

    What a great story, I loved it.

  4. Mom Avatar

    Did you write that now or back in the fall? I remember a few years ago, I wrote this poem below for you because my heart wanted to make things right for you. You were such a happy, smiling child. I wish I could do more. I love you, Mommy

    Your Smile

    Who was it stole your smile away
    and filled your eyes with tears?
    I want to hear you laugh again,
    And take away your fears.

    Who was it stole your smile away?
    I cannot comprehend
    let me come and hold you close
    Until your heart will mend.

    Who was it stole your smile away,
    The smile I so adore?
    I will not rest until I see
    Your smiling face once more!

    Pamela R. Blaine
    (c) May 2001

  5. Billy of the Shire Avatar
    Billy of the Shire

    Like Your mom, I am interested in knowing when you wrote this piece. Soon afterword or just more recently from memory?

    I am enjoying your writing very much!! Keep it up, its great!

    Oh and just title this one ” life is like a bag of apples….”

    🙂 hang in there cuz! I’m feeling it!!

  6. Schellie Avatar

    I’ve seen the world. I’ve lived your dreams. But why is it I envy you and what you have? Mid-life crisis or not, you are on the smartest, best, kind people I have ever met. I’m glad I found you again and I’m glad I cal still call you friend.

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