Strange Fruit 1

“Come quickly! Ashley! Ashley!”

Ashley laid aside the book she was reading, slid off the bed and walked across to the window. She leant out. Her little sister was waving at her from the garden.

“It’s the little tree. It’s got flowers. Come and see!” Bethany cried, hopping from foot to foot.

Ashley slipped on her sandals and ran downstairs, through the open French windows and into the garden. Bethany grabbed her hand and hurried her towards the orchard, passing the pond where a fish was leaping to catch a fly. Normally Bethany would stop to admire the fish, but this morning she ran straight past, urging her older sister along.

Once inside the orchard, both sisters skidded to a halt. The little tree, which had mysteriously appeared a week ago, did indeed have flowers. From a smattering of foliage the day before, the tree had burst forth into flower. Huge, burgeoning blossoms with thick white petals and purple stamens covered the tree. More buds were unfurling as they watched. Hand in hand the two sisters approached the tree. Then Bethany cried out and pointed. A swelling was forming behind one of the flowers. As it grew they could see it was some kind of fruit. Then another appeared, and another. White petals were falling all around them like snowflakes, the scent, sweet and intoxicating, filled the air.

The sisters watched wide-eyed as the ripening fruit grew larger; long, smooth-skinned and a deep, rich purple. Then from behind the slender tree trunk, a small figure emerged. He was a little shorter than Bethany and wore a broad-brimmed hat and pointed shoes. He held out his hands to them, a luscious purple fruit in each one.

Much later in the day, the girls awoke. They couldn’t quite remember how they’d come to fall asleep in the orchard. Each recalled a delicious dream but neither girl could properly remember the details. They looked around at the little tree. It was just as it had been the day before, but when they looked at each other the front of their white pinafores were stained a delicate violet colour.

©2018 Chris Hall

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