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28/12/2018 / Harry Browne

The Glass Apple – a Modern Cinderella Tale by Catriona Murphy


Eyes downcast to the city calls, Alison pumped up the volume on her phone and allowed her body to be swarmed by the vibrance of her music.
Something bounced on trashed pavement, and rolled to her foot.
She frowned, and picked the object up.
Whizzing cars and chaotic beeping, dancing jingles of Christmas songs, flashing amber lights, smells of toxins were all screened out as she took in, what sat curved and refined in her gloved hand.
A glass apple.
Translucent groves etched on one side, as though it has been clawed.
She pocketed it, and upon passing a park in the frosty evening, saw a communal Christmas tree, with well-wishing cards dangling on the frigid wind.
Her boots crunched up to a branch where she hung the apple, and left.
When she got home, it was there.
Shining innocently on her study table next to a photograph of her parents before they died, before Brian ever hit her or her brother’s blame scorched her like a baptism of shame.
Never asked for, but received anyway.
Feeling uneasy, she picked it up like it was an anomaly, fearful of even touching it.
She pushed the pedal on the trash can and paused.
It was too pretty for the bin.
Days passed, and it sat next her scribbling hand each evening, like a study muse gently encouraging her on.
It knew her.
She knew it did, because each time she gazed into it’s wispy quartz depths, she saw her memories.
Her parent’s names scrawled on her bedroom wall before her brother stole her motorbike and vanished into the night.
Identifying her mother at the city morgue, her aunt Margaret breaking down in the arms of a police officer. A car totaled, ripped disjointed all over the flood, blood stained road. Discarded pieces of a broken toy unable to put itself back together.
Inside her lived a flame, the apple knew this too. It glowed at times and dimmed during trials. It grew flames in other people’s bodies, she could see it, like the triumphant wing of a phoenix before flight.
Christmas trees had their own flames too, and she saw how they glowed in children’s doughy eyes, and lit hearts of adults whose bodies encompass child spirit, but have forgotten how it sings.
It shared it’s memories with her too, and she saw a sprawling crystal tree in a bare landscape, branches like icicles were it was plucked by a hooded figure.
She rubbed her thumb against the smooth, curved edge, like an adventurer exploring a new planet, then bit on it, and tasted only cold hard roundness, her teeth sliding.
Inhaled a fragrance of peach.
One day, it started to crack, fissures grooving it’s surface. Her mirror broke and her cat wouldn’t come into her room.
Time was running out for the apple.
It glowed warm pinkish colour now, like morning sky and she saw the same colour when she passed the park each evening.
On Christmas Eve, her wandering feet stopped at the park gate on her way to her aunts.
The apple’s fushia pink pulsed stronger, like a heart beating faster.
There was someone loitering by the tree.
No, not loitering, waiting.
Holding her breath, she trudged up the snow-packed walkway, snowdrops poked through the snow layered ground; a promise of Spring to come.
The air was fresh with renewal in the dead of Winter, when all things chirpy were still and the quiet held an untouchable magic; a Winter fairytale.
Surrounding pine trees mottled the city jam, enclosing the garden as though they were inside the apple itself.
A world within a world.
Alison’s flame brightened as she saw the face by the tree, a twin glass apple in his hand.
An early gift in strange packaging smiled at her.
An understanding settled between them like the lightest snowfall in sleep.
And now Christmas, was her most wonderful time of the year.

One Comment

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  1. elainereardon / Dec 29 2018 11:08 pm

    Delightful Catriona! I’ll be searching for glass apples now.

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