This is the first of four chapters of an amateur novel I am working on. Thank you!
|Chapter 1: “Cold Supper”
The leaves of the apple trees fluttered in the breeze, and with a kiss on her forehead, he whispered “You are the apple of my eye, Abigail.” It felt as if in that moment the rest of the world stood still, and the two of them were frozen in time. A smile peeled across her face as her lungs filled with the sweet spring air, she was in love, a kind that she had never felt. For Abigail, it was like feeling cool rain on her skin for the first time as a child, a sensation that she would simultaneously never forget and never remember the same way ever again.
“Its getting real late” Oliver said softly, “I should be getting back to the harbor soon, my poppa will be back from fishin’ any moment now.” Abigail, overcome with emotion, opened her mouth to respond, but all that came out was a small escape of air. Oliver looked down over her and put his forefinger over her mouth. “Theres nothin’ you can say that‘ll tell me what your eyes have already given away.” Abigail closed her now smiled mouth and wrinkled her lips that had a typical school-girl giddiness written all over them. With a pointed finger she retorted, “Ya know Oliver Barnes, you’re somethin’ else, but you’re not as clever as you may think of yourself.” It was a statement that she knew was far from the truth, but she would never admit it. Oliver smirked and offered Abigail his hand to help her up. “Well, Abigail Teller. If you think I’m somethin’ else, then there ain’t nothin’ else. Not if I’ve got you.” It was like a line from black and white romance movies she would watch with her grandmother, Tilly, before she had passed away. She thought to herself, how was he so good with his words? It wasn’t just the words but its the way he said them, with such a smooth charm she had never encountered before.
As the fading sun cast its last rays over the nestled valley, the sky filled with seamless hues of red, orange, and violet that seemed to reach out every cloud. Oliver briefly dusted the dirt off of his jeans and began to pick small blades of cut grass from her hair. They walked hand in hand until they reached the end of the apple orchard, to which she had pulled her hand away just before the two were in line of sight from the house. In spite of her father’s disposition on Oliver’s character, being intimate with him was not at all acceptable, let alone being seen together. Having to hide her true self perturbed Abigail down to her core. She had felt such an immense power flowing through her body, only to have to abandon that joy that had filled her heart. Abigail’s house was to the left, and the dirt road that stretched for miles back to town lead to the right. “I ‘ought to be going now Abigail.” Oliver said with a slanted smile, “I want you to know. What we had back there, beneath the apple trees, I would re-live that moment every afternoon if I could.” She was torn by his words, suddenly ripped out of bliss she was bathing herself in only moments ago, to be thrown into the concise machinery of rationality. “Off I go, tell your family I said hello.” Oliver said, as he stuck his hands in his pockets. Abigail rolled her eyes and chuckled, “You know my father isn’t very fond of you.” Oliver leaned forward and shrugged his shoulders, “They were just some apples, I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. He’s got this whole orchard, you’d think he could spare a few apples, you know?”
It seems that a few years ago, Oliver and some hooligan friends of his had made it a yearly tradition to pick a couple burlap sacks-worth of fresh apples from the Teller’s family orchard, just before the farm’s annual harvest. Henry Teller, Abigail’s father, could never seem catch the perpetrators in the act. The mischievous apple pillaging had went on for some time until Mr. Teller was able to apprehend one of the boys, Gus Belroy, and threatened to call the authorities unless he confessed who was behind the thievery. This was when Mr. Teller had come to know of the operation’s mastermind, Oliver Barnes. Although they had never met in person, Mr. Teller had made sure that when they did, it would not be a pleasant encounter.
Abigail had felt a bit offended by what Oliver said, after all it was her family’s source of income, a source of income that had become a mere charade for Oliver and his cronies to laugh about while they munched on crisp apples at the expense of the Tellers. “Yeah well, maybe a few apples are important to us!” She felt afflicted by his past actions, and they had manifested into something more than just an issue the Tellers shared over supper. Abigail digressed, “Anyways Oliver, I don’t want this to spoil our wonderful afternoon. Will I be seeing you at church this Sunday?” Oliver reared his head back, he had never expected this delicate young woman to lash out at him, “Ye.. Yeah. Of course I’ll be there. I’m sorry if I’ve I made you angry Abby.” He slowly began to step backwards with his hands still pressed deep into his pockets. “It’s fine Oliver, but if you love me like you say you do, make things right. Make things right with with God, and then make things right with my father.” Unable to respond, he gave a slight nod and quickly turned to begin walking down the 4.2 mile stretch back home. He had walked with his head down for a while, ruminating on how to make things right with Mr. Teller for the wrongs that he had done over the years. By the time he had reached the edge of town, he still hadn’t thought of a creative solution. He could have paid Mr. Teller back for four bushels of apples, which would have costed Oliver nearly forty dollars, but that was too simple. Oliver needed more time to come up with a better way, one that would settle the debt and also give him back his otherwise good reputation in the eyes of Mr. Teller. The fluorescent street lamps lit the way back to the harbor, and Oliver’s father, Mark, was not there. On the door of the harbor office was a note taped to the window, it read:
You better have a good explanation as to why you didn’t come to work today, and
you better have it by the time you get home, I hope you like your supper cold..
Oliver let out a disheartened sigh and pulled the note from the window. He looked at it for a moment and paused before crumpling it up and tossing it at the door. “I may have found who could be the love of my life, and he’s worried about a day’s work? He just doesn’t understand.” Oliver trudged home, hands now thrust in his pockets and walking a quicker pace than he had down the dirt road. Paradise faded quickly and reality had taken its place, the only thoughts he seemed to have were about Abigail. Could he take waiting just two more days until Sunday mass to see Abigail again? What was he going to do about reconciling with Mr. Teller? The two enormity of these two questions were all but far from his mind. More so, how he would explain to his father of why he decided not to come to work today. He focused on the sounds of his footsteps hitting the pavement, trying to count his steps to deter his mind, but it proved to be useless. Even when he was away from Abigail, being together was all he could think about. When he had reached home, his father was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, beer on the table and a cigar lit. “Did you get my note?” his father said with a passive-aggressive tone in his voice as he blew thick smoke into the air. “Yes, dad,” Oliver replied, “ and you’ll be happy to know I’ve met someone, a girl, and she’s made a miracle of my day.” His father scoffed and cleared his throat, “Well son, we need different kinds of miracles to pay the bills that we’ve got. Now get inside, your mother’s been up in bed worried sick over you.” “Yes sir,” replied Oliver as he passed through the haze of burnt tobacco and opened the screen door.
There on the table laid all by itself, a porcelain plate of meatloaf with mashed potatoes, carrots, and peas. Oliver looked at it for a moment and turned to the stairs. Although he had lost his appetite, he knew it would disrespectful to leave the meal, still cold, and now waiting on the table for his father to later discover. He took the plate and brought it to the backyard, he scooped it all into the dogs tin food bowl and sat for a moment. He spoke out quietly as not to cause a stir, “Stella, here girl.” Out of the brush a border collie hastily trotted up to the back porch with its tail wagging. “Good girl Stella, I’ve brought you a late night snack, now eat up quick!” Stella had black fur with white patches in distinct areas of her chest and the tips of her paws. She also had two different colored eyes, one blue and one brown, and she was somewhat overweight which at the time Oliver was not helping with the feast he had just slid into her bowl.
Oliver had heard somewhere that dogs with different colored eyes can see both the present life and the afterlife as well. Whether that was true or not, Stella could probably care less, as she gobbled up the cold supper. Oliver sat next to Stella for a while staring up at the stars, trying to drown out the slopping and munching noises beside him. He had picked out the brightest star he could see, and had hoped maybe Abigail was looking at that same star from her house. That way, even if they were separated by miles of asphalt and dirt road, they were still together in a way. Stella finished eating and laid next to rested her head on his thigh. Oliver leaned over and kissed Stella on her snout, “Goodnight girl, go get some rest, you’ll need it to catch those rabbits tomorrow.” She sat up and wagged her tail as he picked up his plate and opened the screen door. He placed the dish into the sink making a loud clang against the metal basin. “You had better wash that dish now Oliver.” Mr. Barnes exclaimed from the front porch. With an exasperated sigh, Oliver picked up the washcloth and turned on the tap. As he washed his plate, he yearned to be back under those apple trees, looking into Abigail’s eyes as they peered back into his. “Sunday, only two days away, only two days away.” he said to himself, as he dried off the porcelain dish and gently laid it in the cupboard.
Up in his room he spent the rest of the night infatuated with reliving his day with Abigail, fantasizing every memory he had just recently acquired. While he lay in bed, he closed his eyes and he imagined the shadows the leaves casted on the two of them as they laid together. He imagined the temperature of the warm air of late spring in contrast to the cool breeze, the smell of the freshly cut grass combined with the sweet smell of Abigail’s golden blonde hair as it had laid gently on his cheek. This was his technique to combat what would be the hamster wheel of thoughts he found himself fighting to fall asleep. The thought of being with her was lulling him softly to sleep, like a dream that was far better than any dream he could have while sleeping. With eyes shut, he turned his head on his pillow, envisioning that she was there next to him, just as they were in the apple orchard earlier that day.
Oliver wanted more, and with that desire came consequent challenges that flooded his mind. The one in particular that stood out most prevalently was how to rectify the situation with Abigail’s father. If Oliver could get Mr. Teller’s approval, he could continue to grow this seed he had nurtured to life only hours ago. In that moment, Oliver realized it was hard work to grow a seed into a tree, much less wait for that tree’s fruit, and regretted what he had said to Abigail about the stolen apples. He sat straight up and shouted, “Just a few apples, what a stupid thing to say!.” He tried not to let his contrition take away from the hypnotic beauty of memories he was seconds ago immersed in. Closing his eyes again, it took all of his mental strength not to beat himself up over it. After a few minutes of struggling, he eventually found himself back in the apple orchard, imagining the way Abigail’s hair threaded so effortlessly through his fingers. His hand unconsciously made the motions of combing her hair while he whispered to himself, “Apple of my eye... Apple... Of... My...”