The flawless skin possesses not a single bruise or freckled spot. No bumps or scars or dimples to see. My gnarled hands cradle the fruit, holding it aloft, holding it out for her as slanted beams of sunlight through the swaying leaves cause the skin to glint like a precious gem. I chose perfection, for the girl, who is already so damn perfect, would have nothing less. She cannot resist. Blood-red lips and ruby-red apple marry with the splintering of fresh-picked flesh by pearl-white bone, the crack and smack and crunch of teeth. I eye her delicate neck and hear her swishing gulp. An unintended sigh flows from me as my burning lungs release my breath, and my voice mumbles, “too late, dearie.” Her honey-brown eyes widen as the thump of her heart slows. Her chest heaves: once, twice, done. Like a felled tree, she topples to the ground with a hollow thud. Dishes rattle in the cottage’s cupboards. I hope they bury her with bruises on that perfect porcelain skin.
Dying muscles in her dainty fingers drop my precious apple to the floor. Rolling, rumbling across uneven planks; the stem spins like half an axle cut free from its wagon until it bounces against my toes. My crooked fingers swoop down from the flowing sleeves of this oversized robe meant to hide my pillow-hump and pluck my prize from the rough floor. I swing upward and let the hood fall down my back. My fingers dig under my stringy-haired wig to free my itching scalp; I peel off my wax wart. Lighter shoulders take deeper breaths. Smell that sweet breeze of late summer that hangs heavy with wafts of her fresh-from-the-oven blueberry pies. Freedom, freedom from the fairest little bitch in all the land.
Fingernails, with their cuticles gnawed away, trace the rise and fall of precise furrows cut by a simple smile; the smile she flashed at every man she ever saw, infecting them with new ideas of beauty and dethroning those of custom. I wonder how it tasted: my masterpiece. What was it like to dine on the finest, ripest one I’ve ever picked? I wondered while I carried it, nestled in wicker amongst the lesser specimens. Did she appreciate its polished skin before she bit down with that crunch, that juicy sounding crunch? Did the back of her tongue ache with anticipation? Did her spit well to mingle with its juices? Was it sugar-sweet, or was it sweeter? Or, was it tart and clean and fresh? Did her tongue toss it from cheek to cheek, tasting every molecule?
I wonder how deep the poison sank. Would the core be safe? Would it be worth the taste?
The pang in my gut, the ache in my head, when was the last time I ate? A twinge sings in my wrist from its weight and the grip of my clenched hand. Bending elbow, until we’re eye to bite-mark. Tongue-tip tracing my cracked lips, spit pooling behind my teeth and before a thought can form: Release.
Let it fall. Let it gather dust as it rolls under the table of tiny men. Let it lay forgotten. Let it rot with her.