“Do you remember?” Bonnie asks. “If I were to ask you right now to describe to me what an apple tastes like, would you remember?”
“I don’t eat apples,” I reply. “I don’t like the way they get stuck in my teeth.”
“Correction–you don’t eat anything.”
“You’re wrong.” She was. I ate. I ate lots of things. When I wanted to. And I didn’t want to.
“How is it that I’m wrong? Honestly, is there anything out there that you can tell me how it tastes?” She gestures to the table where my worst enemies wait–a bag of sour cream ‘n onion chips, an apple, and a container of strawberry Yoplait yogurt. “Pick one. You’re not leaving without one.”
I fold my arms stubbornly across my chest. “No.”
She folds her arms and leans back in a mime of my position, and she says, “That’s fine. I can wait.”
“No, you can’t,” I groan. “You have other appointments.” I get up off of the couch and grab the apple.
“Good decision,” she nods, a little too eagerly.
“Doesn’t mean I have to eat it. How do you know I won’t throw it out the first chance I get?” I am trying to be as big of a smart-ass as possible. I am very good at it.
Her eyes are sad, the light that came on when I closed my hand around the apple slowly going out. “I’m hoping you won’t.”
We walk out to the reception desk, and she makes an appointment for me for two days later. Apparently I warrant every other day appointments. As I leave, shoving the apple into my coat pocket, she says, “Don’t forget your appointment. I want to hear all about that apple.”
It’s cold outside for November, and I clutch my coat around my body. Shaking, I reach into my pocket and pull out the red, round apple. I contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of taking a nice, big, juicy bite out of it, and I have no clue what I will do.
How many calories can there be in a stupid little apple, anyway? Are you going to let that piece of…of…food…win? Come on! It’s just an apple! Just an apple…I shrug. What can it hurt?
I lift the apple to my mouth, and I take the smallest bite I can possibly take, certainly no bigger than my thumbnail. Still, the juice slides down my throat and I am shocked. In my head, there is color to the taste–indescribable color. I hadn’t realized I was beginning to forget. I savor it, that pure, innocent, color; the texture. And then…it’s gone. To get it back, I have to take another bite.
At this point, I am in my parking lot, right next to the dumpster. The consequences of my actions seem enormous. I raise the apple to my lips to take another bite, but I can’t. Everything’s changing. I think I’m growing older. I know I’m growing older. I’m not a kid anymore. I know my mistakes now, or should I say, I am aware of my mistakes. Everything’s changing…but I will never change this. I can’t.
I have to disappear.
I throw the apple in the garbage and walk away.
“And so I went through the looking glass, stepped into the netherworld, where up is down and food is greed, where convex mirrors cover the walls, where death is honor and flesh is weak. It is ever so easy to go. Harder to find your way back.” –Marya Hornbacher