Saturday 21 June 2014

'Harvest' by Brian Toller

They walked deep into the orchard through the high grass, arms round each other. Their soft conversation accompanied by the constant buzzing of bees and the chattering of birds chasing each other through the branches laden with this years crop. They stopped under a tree and laughed as he plucked the ripest, reddest apple and offered her a bite before taking one himself. Now it lay a few feet away, browning in the late afternoon sun, discarded as they had laid down to satisfy another more urgent appetite.

He lay there sated, watching the branches waving in the warm breeze, swallows flashing across the gaps of blue sky. Breathing in the fecund smells of summer and feeling the grasses blow across his chest as her hair had done before. She slept wrapped against him her breath warm against his shoulder and his hand protectively on her head.

Sighing, he prised a grass stem from the corner of his mouth with his tongue and spat it gently away only for several more to take its place. He tried to spit them away as well, with rather more force this time but no effect. Moving slowly so as not disturb his lover he made to raise his free arm and pull the grass from his mouth but his arm had become entangled, the harder he pulled the tighter it gripped. He tried to wrench free, a warning shout to his lover at once choked off, the grass filling his mouth the instant his lips parted.

As his muscles tightened with the effort he felt her wake and start at the realisation she also could not move. Her face was clasped into his chest by the grass that was woven about his hand and tightly into her hair. The more she struggled the tighter its grip. He pulled now with all his strength aware that she was fighting for breath. Both their hearts racing as she was suffocating against his shoulder. He couldn't help, he was restrained as tightly as if bound with rope, could not even talk for the grass filling his mouth. Now it was forcing its way into his nose. He could neither breath nor move. His senses were now just grass. The smell and taste, the rushing sound of it forcing its way into his ears, the all encompassing embrace of it pulling his body into the ground He saw only blackness as it covered his eyes. He felt as much as heard his lovers last scream die in her throat as her struggle ended. He lost his last grip on life praying she had not believed him responsible.

Days later the farmer drove his tractor into the orchard carefully mowing around his trees before this year's crop was harvested. He left the latest, slightly higher, hump near the centre for later and smiled at the thought that next year's crop would be equally as good.

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