My son finished explaining the contents of an owl pellet as I walked out the door. Tiny rodential bones, voles, shrews, mice. Condensed fluff, stripped by self-grooming. I hadn’t listened to him and stuck my keys into my car’s ignition to turn it on. I followed the route I normally took but instead of exiting the third off ramp and assuming an anonymous position in the steady ebb of homeowners I went straight, driving north-northeast, the sun glinting through the upper corner of my windshield. A working man, breaking free from the bonds of routine, headed in some direction, vaguely poised for self discovery: a truly thrilling exercise! A car to my left drove by and didn’t crash into anything. My back was drenched in sweat.
I pulled up to an orchard, somewhere far away, hours later. There were apple trees arranged neatly in rows and their branches spread outwards, ripe with red blots and the smell of non-decay. I breathed in. My lungs were tired of oxygen and I stopped walking and put my hands on my knees and I felt my head nodding up and down and was conscious of the fact that blinking my eyes took was taking unusually long to complete. Lids move down, lids move up and I struggled.
Birds flew upwards and downwards in a painting, a poor imitation of Audubon. The smell of crayons and a co-worker allowing me to grip her thigh and mouth a nipple. “I’m from a small-town,” she was telling me. “I grew up in a small town.” My head was still there, where it usually was, and I woke underneath an apple tree. Twigs and dried leaves fell out of my hair upon standing. I ran my fingers through my hair. The sun was in the middle of the sky. I don’t know how it happened: I had lost consciousness but continued to sweat. The air was brisk. A man was approaching me from the field. “You alright?” he yelled. I raised my hand to wave and indicate.
The man took me to his home, some cabin on the front edge of the orchard. “There’s been a lot of pressure on me to sell the place,” the man was telling me. “You can’t stop progress, and the world’s fallen in love with apples again.” I told him that I myself enjoyed the occasional apple, the red skin and the white flesh. He looked at me sternly. “You better eat that skin. I know some people don’t like the skin, some people tell me that the skin gets stuck in their teeth, but I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned from these apples: you better eat that skin.” I nodded, smiled, and indicated with my eyebrows that yes, I of course eat the apple skin, and have nothing but contempt for those who abstain. I told the man that my son preferred to eat apples sliced and spread with peanut butter. “Sounds like my kind of kid,” the farmer stated, and he smiled, looking at the ground, before meeting my gaze and winking. I think he caught me when I collapsed again.
When I came to I was lying in the man’s bed and he was midway through a sentence. I heard him say “splinters easily, but firm, and pliable when heated properly” before he noticed that I was awake. The room was adorned with a large quilt, hanging on the wall and resembling the American flag. “My wife sewed that herself,” he told me, and I bought it from him on the spot for a cool hundred bucks. “She’s gone, the cunt,” the man said. I mentioned my son and wife, and he looked at me and said: “The kids, they love the applesauce.” I realized that there was something wrong with the man. The man smoked a cigarette. “Apples!” he said.
I drove back in my red car. I used my phone’s GPS for directions back to my home. My son was there when I got back. Today, he learned about raccoons. Did you know that their name came from the Indians? Did you know that they wash their food in the river before they eat it? Did you? I told my son that I did know that, and if he ever wants to see some real raccoons, just let me know sometime. I winked at him and he laughed at me and ran away. I chased him outside, yelling that I was going to turn him into a raccoon. At this point my wife came home. “Nice quilt,” she told me. I am 12840 days old and am exactly half way through my life.