(Under the Apple Tree) By Kyler
I murdered my friend and buried him under the apple tree on top of the hill. I picked a couple of them off of a branch and put them in a bag and brought them home to my family. That night we had apple cobbler for desert. I sleep with a smile on my face and someone else’s wife in my arms.
I took everything from him. You would be surprised what a loving wife and warm home inspires you to achieve. Some days after work, I drive past the apple tree and put on the brake. I will get out of the car and walk up the hill and stand under the tree.
I will place my left ear to the earth and whisper. “If you can you hear me down there, continue to rot.”
One afternoon, I decide to visit my friend again. When I get to the top of the hill, however, there is another person there. Leaning against the tree with an apple in his left hand. My friend takes a bite of the apple and spits out pieces of brown dirt from his lips, like chewing tobacco. His face and clothes are covered in the grimy chocolate brown soot of the earth and his smile is a musty yellow. …..
My heart skips a beat or two. “Hell is hot, but Life can be just as cold,” He says. I stutter, dropping to my knees. “Oh, I was worried! This is a miracle that you are alive!”
My friend places a dirty hand on my shoulder. Shaking his head. “ The most important lesson is forgiveness. Whatever happened between you and I is in the past.”
My world seems to rotate a little bit slower in this moment. “You-are the single greatest man I have ever—met.” I choke, holding him tight. He looks away. “I had to ask you for a favor. But you were work all day, so I didn’t want to bother you.”
I nod my head. “Anything—my friend, I am here now, tell me.” My friend whispers. “ I hoped that you wouldn’t mind, but I stopped by the house today. Just to say…hello.”
I step back, shifting both of my eyes from left to right. “Oh-“ I stutter, biting my lip.
He looks up, grinning slightly. “I didn’t think that you would mind. There’s nothing wrong with another man talking to his wife, ….is there?”
I bite my lip, trotting two more steps back. Fumbling for the keys in my pocket. “Of course-not,” I half laugh.
He licks his lips. “Good….” I begin to back peddle. Already halfway down the hill, running back towards the car.
His voice echoes like a creature in a cave. “Where are you going, my friend.” He laughs, erupting from the pit of his belly.
I turn the keys in the ignition, pulling out onto the road again. “You better hurry.” My dead friend shouts from atop the hill, continuing in his roaring laugh.
By now, my imagination had taken ahold of me. I keep asking myself a simple question. What is a dead man capable of?
Did he touch her with his rotten fingers? Or, did he take her hand and give her a tour of the underworld. None of it matters, like a flower that tries to grow in the snow.
In my heart, I know that there is nothing that I could do. He had her now.
It takes me ten minutes to get home, with my foot pressed on the gas pedal.
“Oh, my darling let me know that you are here.” I scream, going from one room to the other. Flipping over our bed, pushing cabinets onto their side. A man stuck in a delusion he helped create.
In the kitchen there is a trail of dirt. I follow it out into the backyard. In the middle of the backyard is a shovel stuck into the ground and a high mound of soil next to a hand dug crater. A half dug tomb.
My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach. My minds racing back and forth like a madman. All I know to do is to scream. If I could reach into my mouth and pull out my lungs I would in that moment.
I take the shovel and begin to dig. Fast. Scooping up bucket fills of soil and twisted root. Plunging my dagger into the hole. Until my knuckles begin to bleed and my back is slick with sweat.
The slower I dig, the less time she has. “Reach for heaven, my darling. Come back to me.” I grit, burrowing my way deeper into hell.
After a couple of hours, I collapse next to the hole. Breathing hard through my nostrils.
I look up, taking in the fading afternoon sun through a pair of squinting eyeballs. In a little while, the moon will have had taken its place. Plunging me into nightfall. Then, she will be lost.
“You cannot dig a different hole by digging the same one but deeper, my friend.” A familiar voice echoes.
He is standing in the doorway. My friend lifts up his left leg and gives it a shake. Dirt spills out of the side of his pants leg.
I push myself up onto my two feet; wobbling back and forth on my toes. “Where is she, you bastar—d.” I huff. Clutching my chest.
He grins. “You thought that I would bury her underneath the home that I paid for. If only she were that fortunate.”
I lunge, using the remaining strength in my torso to wrap my arms around him. He pushes me off, grabbing the shovel from my hands. He flips it over, thrusting the end with the handle into my stomach.
I let out a large gasp, rocking over onto my left side. Gasping and wheezing.
He kneels over, moving his head down towards my ear. His tongue is cool and sharp.
“ I took her with me. We have a nice little plot together, under the apple tree. You would find her bones buried there, next to mine. If you want my life and home so desperately, you can have it. You can take it to the grave. “ I shake my head back and forth; wiggling on the ground.
He brings the shovel down one more time, connecting with my knee. The rest is a dizzying haze of stars and stripes. When I open both of my eyes again I’m looking up into the night sky.
He is up there and I am down here, in the pit I had dug. Shoveling heaps of dirt onto my shoulders and chest and face.
My dead friend sees me open my eyes. He stops, midway through, tilting the shovel so that the dirt pours across my face.
“If you can hear me down here; continue to rot.”