Apples at the Fair



I wear my bare feet to the fair and dodge first livestock then farmers to get close to the tumblers. They make me smile with their cartwheels and take my breath away with their great feats of balance, so I forget looking over my shoulder for the innkeeper. When they take a rest, I find a fiddler and then two singers with lutes singing a duet. The woman from the duet dies for the sake of her love and tears spring to my eyes when they sing their goodbyes. I hardly notice when my stomach begins to rumble. After the duet, I watch some actors perform the last half of their play, then I go back to the tumblers.

When the first booth is packed away, I wonder if the innkeeper will still let me sleep in the stable even though I did not take care of the horses today. I shake my head and find a musician playing a lullaby. When he reaches the last note, a few more coins are tossed into his hat and I wish I had some to give him. He puts his harp into his bag so gently; it is like he is putting a baby to sleep. When I look up again, he is gone and it seems most of the other people have gone home too. A woman with a basket of green apples stops beside me.

‘Are you crying, dear?’ she asks and I look up into brown eyes framed by long lashes and then I see rosy cheeks just as I imagine a heroine from a song or play would have.

‘Here,’ she hands me an apple and smiles with her small mouth and large eyes, ‘you can eat it on your way home.’ She continues on her way before my throat unsticks.

When I get back, the innkeeper shouts at me a lot, but he allows me to sleep in the stable for just one more night. As I curl up in the hay and the tart taste of the apple fills my mouth, I thank God and the whole world for letting me meet an angel.

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