It started with the apple tree. The one in Nico park that was so tall it seemed to touch the sky. The perfectly round, red, apples would glisten in the sun as my family and I would have our Sunday afternoon picnic beneath it. Memories of my mother and father’s problem-less laughter echoed in my ears like ghost whispers. My best childhood memories all stem from those Sunday picnics. My worse one’s stem from after we stopped.
They started fighting when I was fifteen. My father lost his very prestigious job and my mother lost her lavish lifestyle. My mother had to work for the first time in her life. She transformed from my loving mother into this worn out, rage monster. The first time it happened I was so scared I started crying and my parents felt so bad afterwards they promised me everything would be alright, but it wasn’t alright. Nothing got better. They tossed all care for the effect their bickering had on me and went for each other’s throats. They fought about bills, my school life, job problems, and whose job it was to pick up the house after they both returned home from work. At one point, they started to pull me into the fights and tried to make me pick who I agreed with. The only sounds echoing in my ears now are the screaming arguments they have.
My alarm went off pulling me out of my dreams. I yawned and turned over trying to shut out the noise. The snooze on my alarm hasn’t worked for two months. My mother broke it. The fight had started off with them giving me a lecture about turning my grades around then, it turned into a whose fault is it fight between them and my mother threw my alarm at him. It was like they forgot I was even in the room.
Summer break started 1 week ago. I’ve been waking up 5:45 a.m. every morning, even Sunday’s like today. My senses began to wake and I could already hear my parents fighting. I flipped my pillow up over my head and tried to go back to sleep with no success. My eyes slowly opened and I took in the sight of my room. I’d been waking up to the same 3-D print purple butterflies my parents glued to the ceiling when they decorated my nursery, every day for 18 years. My room was empty save for my bed, dresser, and I had a few leftover books from the school year. The only other furniture in my room was an antique claw foot secretary desk that my grandmother gifted to me a few Christmases ago. I was supposed to be applying for colleges since I graduated, and don’t get me wrong I was eager to escape my parents, but like I said, my grades aren’t the best.
It was the second day of summer and I still had no idea what to do with all this free time. Not being great at social events left me friendless. I was that kid in the back of the classroom scrawling doodles on my desk waiting for the time to pass. Nobody wanted to be my friend. I was too depressing I guess. I sighed and rolled out of bed, got dressed and made my way downstairs.
At the bottom of the stairs I walked around the corner to the kitchen. My mother was standing at the counter drinking coffee and my father was at the stove making pancakes. My mother noticed me and immediately pulled me into the argument.
“Scarlett, don’t you think your father should pay for the house bills while I pay for our more nonessential bills like the television, our cellphones, and the internet? He makes more than me, it’s only fair.” My father turned and poked the spatula forcefully in my mother’s direction.
“I only make 2 dollars more than you an hour. It’s best to split the bills in half. That is the fairest option. Right Scarlett?”
I don’t know where my courage came from, but I am so grateful I finally said something. “You two need to stop this madness! I’m your child! Not a game piece!” I shoved my shoes on and ran out the door. Ran until I ended up at my favorite tree. The apple tree. We didn’t live that far from the park, maybe one or two blocks away. I flopped down onto the wet morning grass and just cried. I cried about the fighting, I cried about losing the happy childhood I use to have, but mostly I cried for my parents. Constant anger is no way to live. I don’t know how long I had been crying, but when I had calmed down enough to look at the time I realized it was already dark. That doesn’t make any sense, it was just morning.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of my stomach grumbling. I looked to the apple tree and wondered if the apples were safe to eat. It’s funny to think that out of all our Sunday picnics not once had we eaten one of the tree’s fruit. Probably because we always brought our own food. Unfortunately, I was too short to reach the apples so I grabbed a hold of the lowest branch I could find and hoisted myself up. The tree bark scratched my arms as I pulled myself up and onto the branch, but the apple looked so good I just had to have one bite. My mouth watered as the thought of my teeth crunching into the shiny red surface crossed my mind. Frantically I stretched my fingers out towards the apple. I could just barely reach the lowest apple. I managed to wrap my fingertips around it and pull. The stem snapped easily off the tree and I dropped back down to the grass. Cautiously, I bit into the bright red fruit.
The taste was so refreshing I felt as if my mouth might explode, and then it did. A bright light flashed out from my middle and I could feel my feet lift off the ground. An electric buzz became apparent on my skin and it passed over me. The current hit my toes and my whole-body tensed as a huge shock wave coursed over my skin. My eyes rolled back into my skull and my mind blacked out.