by Claudie Muchindu
I have a story to share. It’s a less than charming tale of a peach and an apple that grew in orchard and somehow got entwined.
Shall I tell you about the peach first? He is and will always be the only entity that has the power to bring her to less than she is and she has willingly given that power to him. I cannot say whether she had a choice or not but that’s often the way life works, isn’t it?
I‘m not sure if it’s the way his mouth moves when he isn’t speaking or the way the air around him moves to accommodate his less than natural ego. Its all of these and none. It’s the way he makes her feel together when he is around and bits and pieces when he leaves. Yet too many nights she has woken up in an empty bed because he couldn’t bring himself to spend the night with her. Too many nights she hasn’t cried because crying is beneath her but the tears have always needed to be shed. They both are what they are. They’re one and yet less then that. How can one be so powerful and yet seem so powerless?
Today will be different. She knows it will. It has to be. She knows she cannot let him put her whole self in a wringer simply by walking through the door. She wonders why she ever gave him her spare key. They pass each other in the corridors as though they were nothing more than two walls coated in different paint not seeing each other from opposite views of the same courtyard; and they might as well be. They have different paint and different textures underneath it all. He will be more than she ever can and they both know that, peaches don’t grow on apple trees and my dears, he is a peach. Apples aren’t necessarily less than peaches but they cant grow on the same branch. Late at night before she nods off she will tell herself that its still all right for them to grow in the same orchard though. There are no laws against peaches and apples in the same orchard.
‘Jon. This bed isn’t big enough for us anymore,’ she whispers. She whispers because she knows he is almost asleep. She can also tell from the line of his back that he is now wide awake. He fakes a moan and she cant resist a smile. Her smile lights her up from within yet she doesn’t know. He’s never told her. She thinks she knows him better than he even knows himself but what can an apple know of being a peach? She places a hand on his back, her fingers are always cold but he’s never flinched to her touch. The warmth coming off him makes her feel she has been living a solitary winter and that there may be a summer at the end of it after all. He makes her heart smile as only he can, when he is being himself without trying. She doesn’t see the beauty in that simple vision, her hand on his back that is. She knows not the warmth of her cocoa essence on his paler than pale torso. He’s never told her that he’s never felt the cold in her fingers. He feels only the heat that her earth tones capsized his sails with long before he knew her name. He’s never told him he would stop being a peach for her and her being an apple, has never thought to ask.
She sees nail marks and a frown creases her flawless face before she can stop it. He has told her she should frown less but all she can think is she shouldn’t have gotten carried away this much. The marks on his back will leave an unsightly mass in the morning, she stares at her nails. Yes. There’s skin under there. A final testament to why she should learn to tone herself down. She kisses the marks even though she knows her lips wont take them away. It’s a beautiful yet less than beautiful sight to behold and there’s a magic in the path she lays on his marked back. He doesn’t yet know that those welts have blessed him but he will when he has a shower and he wont feel their pain though. He’ll feel agony caused by the fact that she isn’t in the shower with him.
You see, while peaches and apples aren’t able to grow on the same branch, sometimes, when they are in the same orchard they reach out to each other and even though neither can know what it is to be the other, they understand what it is to not fully be what they are meant to. But as I said in the beginning, this isn’t a happy love story, it’s a tale of apples and peaches and how they can reach out to each other and yet still hold back and not completely give into to making an altogether new fruit salad. These two have and they both know that they have gone beyond where they should have allowed it to go but they don’t know they words to say to each other to make the transgression survivable. Peaches and apples don’t speak the same language but they can sometimes hear the same voices.
He turns to her now and her heart leaps in her less than fleshy prison. He takes her less than freezing fingers and hold them to his lips. ‘I can buy you a new one.’ he whispers into her hand and she looks at his eyes. He means it and she knows. He is trying to speak apple and that doesn’t make her happy.It makes her eternally sad because she knows that he could never really be one. ‘No bed will be big enough for us.’ she murmurs into his face as she nudges closer to him and he blinks. Twice. Quickly. He does that when he’s thinking of what to say to her. She takes her free hand and tries to print his face on to it. He has warm brown Asian eyes; eyes that speak when his mouth doesn’t know the words to say. His nose is strong but unassuming; his mouth is wide but doesn’t swallow his face. When he lets himself laugh it’s a magical sight and one she has burned onto her mind. He isn’t smiling now though. His lips are moving but words aren’t coming from them and that’s ok too.
She pulls her now more than warm hand away and he gazes into her more than Godly face. No, there are no known Goddesses’ who have come close to the vision that shares her less than large bed. She has eyes that are lighter than his, in a face with a mouth that often twinges in an attempt to smile. Its almost as though her eyes and her lips were constantly engaged in some form of mythical warfare. To see her eyes on their own you would see dancing tales told in wisps of vibrant colour and they would draw you in before you had a chance to save yourself. He is a bit deluded to think that his eyes could have been saved from the insanity of hers. He had no hope that first day when she sat at his table. Their branches crossed then and became entwined. Yet now, it seems time has come to release the vines from the more than healthy hold.
They lay there wrapped in their world of impure madness. Their lips touch one last time as they both know it is that final embrace before they have to let go. His fingers lace around her more than slender neck and her hands wrap around his back. They have already forgotten not to cause too much damage. Bruising is the least of their concerns. One last time the peach and apple dance in the wind and then let go. There’s some lingering. He wants her to ask him to stay, he will if only she will ask. She never will though. She’s never asked a man to share her bed and she never will. It just can never cross her mind.
He clothes himself as she lays in her now too large a bed. Her burnt mahogany skin looks like a dessert against the white cotton sheets; a sweet indulgence you’ll soon wish you could forget. Her hair is a tussled mess and her face shows the love it has just been subjected to. He leaves his key on his pillow; for it will always be his even though he will no longer lay there. The door closes behind him without a hint of restraint. The peach has left the apple alone on her branch, or so it seems.
She lays back, the cold has returned to her fingers as she places them on her belly.
‘Daddy was a peach
Mummy was an apple.
Before they had a chance to rot
The apple told the peach to go
They both wanted him to stay
But he had to leave.
You can never be either
Fully a peach
Or fully an apple
If I could wish and pray I will
I’d ask you not
To become an apple like your mother
And instead to
Be a peach like your father’
She chants lyrically to herself as she rolls over. She will tell her little one about her peach of a father but the peach himself will never know that he planted a peach seed in an apple and it had begun to grow.