The soft rains came in fast and then were quickly dried by warm autumn winds. They came and went so fast that it seemed they knew that time itself was fleeting this year, at least fleeting for me. I did not notice this switch from dog days to leaf falling, I had other things on my mind or really I had one thing on my head, the swelling.
During the summer months when love is strong I took my love to the woods to play each time we would meet, it was like we were called there over and over. Specifically to this one old orchard with a broken backed house and barn close by. This place spoke of sorrow and pain, suffering gone on for many years. But we brought our golden cheer and light to that grey green melancholy site as we danced among the trees laden heavy with red ripening fruit. And then one day we fought over something so small it escapes me even now to wonder what it could have been that changed us both that day. Changed us in such a way that I held her arm too tight and then she broke free of me, slapped me in the face and ran off into the darkest corner of that old orchard.
I searched hours and hours in that dank lichen infested group of trees that went on for ever and came upon a huge old tree gnarled and twisted with such force that it threw me back for a moment. I looked down among roots that seemed torn away from the earth in agony and saw a trinket once given in love. I bent down and found it rusted and broken with age. I stood and a sharp dead branch pierced the skin atop my head and sent shock waves of remorse through out my every limb. I stumbled blinded and bloody to my carriage and then to home to bath my wounds and heart. I never saw my love ever again.
A week later I felt a bump smaller than a hens egg on top my head. It was wobbly and was slightly painful to the touch. Each day it grew a bit bigger and seemed to move about slightly as if it had a mind of its own. I searched out the best doctor and he examined me and found bits of red brown lichen growing out of my wound. He was rather pleased, thinking he may have a new discovery in medicine and science. A new species of fungus that grows on humans. He had me shave my hair and gave me the latest antiseptics and fungicides and I was sent home while he went off to make history.
The swelling grew and sloped down over my shoulder over night, as if fed by my ointments and ministrations. I ran to the mirror and there were long red brown ear like growths all over my head and shoulders. my hand and arms were going grey and the skin was hard to the touch. I screamed and tore down the mirror in frustration and fear. my servant ran in and grew stricken with horror at my sight and fainted. I ran down the steps and out to the stable as quickly as I could and hitched my nervous twitching horse and road off raising dust clouds of desperation behind me. I soon lost thought and then passed out and then losing control of the horse and carriage.
I woke in a deep dark place, the horse and carriage were no where in close sight. I went to stand and found I was stuck deep in the earth, as if I had fallen into a shaft underneath the ground and I was being sucked down. I strained and pulled and could not budge from this trap. Just then the moon came out from behind a large cloud bank and I could see etched across the dark sky gnarled and grotesque shapes, half human and half tree shapes swaying in a slow twisting dance. Then I heard a chorus of faint whispers, sing song voices repeating something familiar, something from my early childhood. I strained forward to hear this tune as if my life surely depended upon understanding what was being said. I closed my eyes and stopped my movements and then I heard oh so faintly "The apples doesn't fall far from the tree" and I knew that all my sins and the sins of all my family rested here in this dark black orchard where my family first settled.
A family orchard is hard to escape from.