“I pluck the last apple from the fruit bowl. I wash the apple then have it sit, presenting spherical in the palm of my hand. The water globules shimmy shimmeringly as I turn the apple by its stunted stalk in the course of my inspection. They seem to draw up the apple’s red hue within their vesicular protuberance. An osmotic trompe-l’oeil. The skin appears pristine. I move into the study and am struck by a thought: what if a water droplet is precisely aligned over the worm hole caused by a boring larvae, so as to diffuse beyond my sight? I shake the apple vigorously and watch the spray of moisture fly off like a swarm fledging. There remain fewer, but more tenacious drops, elongated by their smearing perturbation on the surface of the apple. I briefly think of Newton. The stem bowl, already a recessed tunnel of sorts, is particularly hard to descry, being of similar hue to larval frass. However this whole morsel does indeed seem untouched and virginal. Apart from the chemicals waxing it verglas of course. Confident that there would be no codling moth larval Amundsen defeating my caterpillary Scott in the race to the core, I sink my teeth into the red peel. A mist of the apple’s own juices flies out into the air. Too fine to echo the beads of water purged by the action of my earlier convulsion, also they leave no darkening umbrage on the carpet. As I chew the pulpy mixture of soft rind and crisper pome, I inspect the lacerations in skin collapsed like a mine shaft and see the borders picked out by the indentations of my teeth. Ordered like a file of marching insects. Why are my mind’s associations with this fruit always insectival? Liquid beads on red skin could so easily conjure up the flesh of a mate emerging from the shower, or a swimming pool. I blame my mother. Or Eve. Or the serpent. I take another bite which has a more percussive resonance, presumably because there is no muting by the softer outer casing. My teeth impressions have vanished, as has the red skin to reveal the white seam beneath. I revolve the apple to its south face in order to offer me its unscaled scarp, but in doing so I must have pincered it too hard and the pads of my fingers are sunk into the tender flesh. I pick at the puckered rind with the point of my fingernail until I have abraded it away. Sure enough the cells beneath have bruised under the imprint of my digital pressure. I marvel at the celerity of the discolouration, even as I am disgusted by my clumsy adulteration of the fruit. I reduce the span of my bite to nibble the flesh either side of the blemish, as the appetising pleasure falls away, reducing to just the chore of consuming it. I’m beginning to think I would have been better off with a glass of draught cider. By its end, the habitual aesthetic satisfaction of scrimshawing to the hourglass core, remains still denatured by the canker of the bruised protrusion. Like a chrysalis awaiting to hatch the apple’s seeds buried beneath. I throw the core into the recycling bin. No, that’s the wrong appellation. Into the organic waste receptacle”.
I woke the next morning and readied to edit the manuscript. I picked up a red biro and steeled myself that this draught would involve no proofing, but solely focus on a purge of the metaphorical element. For I had tossed and turned half the night, concerned that the piece contained too much symbolism, rendering it far removed from the actual experience I was trying to capture. Having said all that, the very first edit I made, was to add a comma within the second sentence. Sure enough in no time at all the paper was soon spotted with red warts. But these were all superficial syntactical markers. I was irritated with my own ill-discipline. I had plumped for the surface soft rind rather than the crisper pome beneath. I picked up the sheet of paper and wafted it in the air away from me, by way of symbolic gesture to have the spray of red corrigenda fly off like a swarm fledging. That in my imagination the paper would return to its untouched and virginal state prior to this premature waxed verglas edit. My head now cleared, I reapplied it towards fresh inspection of the text. However it was as if my little ritualistic conceit had taken actual form, for I seemed to have been left with a mote in my eye. The characters on the page, both the red and black, started to diffuse. They shimmered shimmeringly. Momentarily confused, I shut my eyes trying to clear their wateriness in order to return the apple of my eye that was my own writing to its pristine, stable state. But the caterpillary convulsion continued. The ink, surely dried from yesterday’s initial application, was beginning to run. The letters elongated by their smearing perturbation on the surface of the paper. Re-ordered like a file of marching insects, peeling themselves right off the folio. A few, more tenacious letters clung on in place, while their neighbours bored tunnels of their escape. I imagined that I could almost perceive a mist of deliquesced letters flying out into the air. The few remaining letters looked stunted, pit props vainly trying to brace a collapsed mine shaft. Lacerations amid the text wherever you looked. The red and black inks now blended and merged into an unsightly discolouration. An ever-darkening umbrage, my script had the appearance of nothing less than insect frass. My ideas were evanescing in front of my very eyes. The paper regressing back to its pulp, even the pen’s indentations formerly filled and occupied by ink, were smoothing their puckered selves out and returning to first flush of a pristine white seam. An unscaled scarp. How do I know this? Because I rushed to seize a pencil from my writing bureau and began to shade across the grain hoping to reveal the vanished letters. But to no avail. I pincered the paper hard between the pads of my fingers and shook it vigorously. I ruptured the tender tissue as if it really had become degraded through moisture undermining its integrity. This pulpy chrysalis had no seeds of creativity left to hatch. My text denatured by the canker of words. I balled the leaf up wrinkled spherical, sat presented in the palm of my hand where it proceeded to unfurl some of its serpent coils. Its insectival wings. I threw its empty core into the recycling bin. No, that’s the wrong appellation. Into the organic waste receptacle.
By Marc Nash