Apple Blossoms Falling on an Empty Grave

Apple Blossoms Falling on an Empty Grave

A Story by Adam McWhorter

I wrote this short story for my sister Heather; in it, a young girl dreams of a spiritual and psychological awakening in an exotic, yet familiar landscape.




Esther saw herself in the distance.

The wind was shifting softly from the east to the west. Grass grew wildly in all directions and stretched endlessly to a place where it seemed to become one with the sky. The sun was hanging high and clouds appeared sporadically across the blue vastness like cotton blossoms, soft and shapeless. As the sunlight scattered across the surface of the grass, it became more like a gentle emerald sea and the shadows of clouds became like great whales swimming below the sparkling surface. A lone tree rose like an island from the leagues of rolling green waves, its twisting, knotted branches forming a beautiful canopy of leaves to shade a young girl standing beneath.

As the girl stood beneath the shelter of the tree, the rustle of leaves and the swish of the swaying grass became muted - until there was no sound. Even in her elegant pink gown, she seemed to compliment her surroundings; her pink stiletto heeled shoe lay on the ground to her left. Her silken bodice cleaved tightly to her torso and diaphanous billows of fabric flowed from the tightly gathered skirt to form a bell shape that brushed against the ground. Her auburn hair was long and straight, falling delicately around her flawless features to rest upon her shoulders.

The sleeveless gown served to expose her pale, milky skin - an alien landscape where her collarbones formed deep ravines, the cleft between her breasts a valley, her long white neck an isthmus joining her flaming hair to her wintry body. She needed no paint to accentuate her unearthly beauty, her petal pink lips were unadorned, and her large crystalline eyes echoed the hue of the emerald sea surrounding her.

The girl looked toward the horizon and felt her lips curl into a smile as she saw a figure approaching from the distance. It was the figure of a man - familiar, and as he came closer to her island in the grass, the setting sun began to give way to night at an alarming speed. Yellow and gold gave way to pink, red, and purple in rapid succession until the sky at last surrendered to black. Stars began to rip through the confinement of their dark veil and shone like luminous pinholes. The constellations took shape, Orion first - then others as they tore free and assumed their positions. The man seemed to pull the night after him as he came closer; then the sky began again to lighten to day, as if it were his doing and not the natural order of things. Space and time became fiction.

When the man finally stood before the girl, he smiled in a kindly way and she welcomed his embrace, but as the moments passed, she began to feel ill at ease within his arms, and an expression of fear crawled across her face like a line of spiders, leaving goosebumps in their wake. The Man sensed her unease and began to speak. The silence held although the man’s lips moved as if the sounds could be heard, and the girl seemed to understand what was being asked of her. The girl nodded in an acquiescing manner as the man reached into a hollow of the tree and withdrew a shovel that had been hidden inside. His speech became an eloquent flow of gesture as he communicated his desire to travel away from the safety of the tree hold. Again, the girl agreed and they began to travel through the long grass together.

The pair walked side by side, in a westerly direction, and as they advanced the grass became so tall in places that it touched the girl’s brow. The man walked in front to part the grass and make the girl’s passage through easier, and in this way they followed a gentle downward slope toward a small creek babbling gently beside an apple tree. The tree was heavily overflowing with blossoms. The surrounding grass was almost white in spots, as the falling petals had settled in snowy piles. The man knelt and began to brush away layers of small white flowers from a place directly beneath the apple tree, revealing a crumbling gravestone. He stood, offered the shovel to the girl, and then stepped a small distance away. He spoke to her, his lips moved solemnly, then softly smiled.

A clap of thunder crashed - startling the girl as it blasted deafeningly through the silence; the man remained still, immutable despite the shock of sound. A small piece of rock crumbled off the gravestone and then all was quiet . . .

Looming black clouds, pregnant with rain, cast shadows on everything below, it may have been twilight in this place, or just an hour that could pass for it. Time seemed to possess its own free will. She penetrated the lush ground beneath her, the shovel bringing up the blackest, soggiest, most cryptic soil. She began digging faster and faster, the shovel flying in and out - raping the decay under her. She kept going deeper, until six feet within the earth’s bowels a small black coffin was revealed.

She turned to the man. His face expressionless. He mouthed the words, “Open the lid”. She did not hesitate. The dark mud clung to her flowing pink skirt. She tried to pry the lid open with her hands, but she was not strong enough. She turned to the man for guidance, his lips silently phrasing a sentiment that made her try again. This time, she popped it open. Black wood, splintering. She looked inside the tiny casket. A child. A small, small child with his eyes closed and hands folded neatly beneath his chin. His blond hair was flawless, his skin still not decayed. He could’ve been sleeping. The man stepped into the grave, slipping down the muddy slope to where she stands, looking down at the boy’s lifeless body. He reached into the coffin and removed him. Turning, he offered the corpse to her. She took the little boy in her arms. He smelled like the earth, old and rotting, but still looked as young and innocent as she remembered him. The sky exploded into tears as she sat down into the muddy grave, weeping - her sobs lost in the pervading silence. She cradled her brother’s little body, rocking back and forth, and sang an unknown song to him.

She closes her eyes.

She’s waking up.

When her eyes open, she is shocked by sunlight - the big, round, and yellow orb above her once again. She sits beneath the apple tree on undisturbed, emerald grass. The mud is gone from her gown. The black clouds have billowed away. The man walks over to her from the babbling creek, smiling. She looks down at the boy’s body in her arms. The man wipes the tears from her cheeks and kisses her under her right eye. She smiles, peacefully. The man takes her brother’s body from her arms. He puts his mouth to the mouth of the dead boy, kissing him paternally, exhaling into his lips, and then he lays the body down.

The small boy’s blue eyes flutter open and shut, like the unfolding wings of some rare and beautiful moth. He stands up. He runs off to play in the creek. He picks apple blossoms out of it, as they float on top of the water. He has been changed, in the twinkling of an eye. His sister stands, adjusting her pink dress. The man goes to her, embraces her from behind. He whispers something in her ear. She smiles. Her brother runs back to where they stand. He smiles at the man unknowingly, but aware. The three laugh silently. Smile. Embrace. The man and the boy begin to walk away, leaving the girl behind in Paradise. The boy turns and runs to his sister and she holds her brother, like a mother would. Like a mother should. Like their own never could.

Esther saw herself in the distance, in a dream she had last night. She could smell the apple blossoms. She watched them fall upon the empty grave.

© 2010 Adam McWhorter

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I love it :) beautifully written

Posted 10 Years Ago

When I first posted this story on the Cafe back in 2007 or 2008, I had a review that compared it to a Thomas Kinkade painting... All colorful and rich with so much imagery and s**t you forget what you're looking at, then you realize it's a warm, glowing, cozy cottage in some sickly floral landscape and you're like... Why? Lol. I don't think my first attempt at short fiction writing is as lacking in real substance as a Kinkade painting... But I thought the review was very clever and thought out. I'm a poet, so I do get a little lost in the descriptions from time to time... The story is based on a dream my sister told me she'd had. She's Esther. The story's for her. I'm just glad others have enjoyed it as well :)

Posted 12 Years Ago

Wow this story was amazing.

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

wow. this story was full of vivid metaphors and the context was beautiful. amazing job!

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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4 Reviews
Added on August 5, 2010
Last Updated on August 5, 2010
Tags: spiritual, psychological, death, rebirth, religious symbology, romantic, gothic, experiemental, cerrebral


Adam McWhorter
Adam McWhorter

Montgomery, AL

Hello. My name is Adam McWhorter. I'm a poet, singer-songwriter, and self-obsessed scrawler... I used to publish poetry on this website about 2 years ago, but after the "crash" when alot of go.. more..