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Five-finger fic exercise: Apple - Laura Wise

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October 13th, 2011


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02:40 pm - Five-finger fic exercise: Apple
For lunch today I had (as I almost always have) an apple.

Somehow I turned the apple over in my palm, and what came was a short take on a well-known fairy tale. Call it a missing scene, if you will -- it didn't happen, but it should have. ;-)


As Margret released the best and brightest of this year's apples from its branch, she heard the rustling behind her. Dry leaves from elsewhere, broken under imperious feet here.

When she turned, however, an old woman stood shawl-wrapped, hooded, and bent before her. Margret wouldn't have thought the footsteps belonged to the woman, so seeming frail, clutching the shawl with white bone-shard fingers. But no one else was near.

Margret looked again. Eyes like just-ashed coals were just visible in the shadows of the hood, and white skin, and lips as reddened as fire. A disguise, then.

Everyone knew the one who went abroad thus attired. Everyone feared her.

After a silent useless wish that her Peter would have returned sooner from his delivery at the castle – for dealing with this disguised greatness was a deadly pastime made less dangerous with more players – Margret said, “May I help you, mother?”

The name, despite its common usage for one cloaked in hood and shawl and age, made those bone-shard fingers twitch in dismay. Margret had expected so, and the dry broken voice from the depths of the hood also matched expectation: “Good day, good Frau. I come for a fruit from your orchards.”

“Any particular fruit, mother?”

The old woman took a step forward, the imperious footstep betraying her as much as those glimmers in shadowed hood. Oh, this one wished to crush more than leaves, Margret knew. In the dry broken voice of feigning: “The one you have in your hand will do well.”

Only a queen would believe that a simple request would elicit the best and brightest of this year's apples. Only a fool would believe that this particular queen meant well in any way.

But Margret said cheerily, “Of course, mother, I shall be glad to give.” As she took her own step forward, she caught the scents of expensive blown rose and long-lived bitterness from the old woman--

And she made herself trip, going to her knees in the dry leaves, letting the best and brightest of this year's apples almost fall.

“It cannot be bruised, the fruit,” said the old woman harshly, and it was a queen's harshness.

“Of course, mother,” Margret said again. Her basket of lesser fruit she put on the ground; it would hide the movement of her hands. One palm over, one palm under, cool good redness peeping from between curved fingers, and she whispered so low and true that even she heard only hissing breath, “Let this red world never take enough poison to kill, let this red world lie untasted until love come at last.”

Cool good redness gleamed, warmed, and then was as it had been. But the spell, Margret knew, was in place.

Easily she rose to her feet and offered the apple and its hidden good magic. “For you, mother, and for good health of anyone who eats of it.”

Bone-shard fingers nipped the fruit out of Margret's hand, and without another word the old woman turned and went away in a rustle of broken leaves.

Margret watched until the old woman was past their low stone walls, and then went back to picking the rest of her fruit. But her hands shook now and again, and her tongue seemed to taste another's poison hidden in crisp sweetness.

When her Peter returned whistling from the castle just before dusk, she dropped the basket and leapt into his open arms. There she clung for a moment before her hands found his.

“What then, my fierce Margret?” he said, laughing. “You aren't afraid of the coming shadows, are you?”

She closed her eyes, envisioning bone-shard fingers wrapped around a clear-dark vial, envisioning the green drops of evil trying to break through good magic, envisioning red lips on fruit, hearing in vision breath caught as if broken under imperious feet.

Her palms, warm with remnant power, she pressed against Peter's rough skin.

“Not afraid of the shadows, no,” she said. “For darkness will pass, and love will come.”


I hope that you have the best and brightest of this year's fruit today and onward.

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:anne_d
Date:October 13th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
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That is wonderful, and I wish you all good and bright things too.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 13th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, A, thank you twice.

Happy Thursday!
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From:freixenet
Date:October 13th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
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oh, how beautiful--and how appropriate. This should have happened.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 13th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, F! I don't know why I thought of Margret, but once I had.... well, I had to write it down.

Cheers and a good Thursday into Friday for you!
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From:janus_74
Date:October 13th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
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Very nice :)
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From:laurawise
Date:October 13th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you, T!

Happy Thursday, too. :-)
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From:paratti
Date:October 13th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Loved it.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 13th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, L, thanks!

Happy Thursday and Friday to you. :-)
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From:cindergal
Date:October 13th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
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A lovely fairy tale for an autumn day. At least, it's autumn where I am. :-)
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From:laurawise
Date:October 13th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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It is not autumn here, alas, but I can dream. ;-)

Cheers and thanks, Cindergal, and a happy Friday ahead!
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From:wildrider
Date:October 14th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
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OMG, that was awesome!

I LOVE that kind of thing (fairy tales from another POV) -- it's why I like so much of Maguire's work...).
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From:laurawise
Date:October 14th, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
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Thank you! [beams]

I like playing with fairy tales, too, and this one called to me for some reason. :-)

Cheers and a wonderful Friday to you!
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From:stevie_carroll
Date:October 14th, 2011 07:15 am (UTC)
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Oh, lovely. An excellent twist on the tale.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 14th, 2011 11:20 am (UTC)
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Thank you, Stevie, thank you! :-)

Happy Friday, too, and a good weekend.
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From:mobile_alh
Date:October 14th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Oh, excellent...and it totally explains what happened!
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From:laurawise
Date:October 14th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, ALH, thanks and hurrah for you! I hope it was a good time with Rainkatt, and hope that all is well your way. :-)

Happy weekend!
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From:justhuman
Date:October 15th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
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Wonderful tale for the season :-)
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From:laurawise
Date:October 15th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, JH! :-)

May you have a good harvest season!
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From:stateless82
Date:October 15th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I LOVE this!!! And it's exactly what happened.
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From:laurawise
Date:October 15th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
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Yay, I'm glad you liked it! [beams]

Cheers and thanks, S, and a wonderful Saturday night.

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