This month’s exercise was to create a story combining apples and oranges and stolen goods.
The old man and his grandson sat in shade of the orchard. From the surrounding hills came the drowsy sound of cicdas and the air shimmered with heat. The old man yawned.
“Tell me again how you found the golden apples,” said the boy, eager to keep his grandfather awake.
“Ah, the golden apples, they were the stuff of legend. Unfortunately Heracles never explained where the garden of Hera could be found, so nobody could repeat his feat.”
“Until you,” said the boy, gazing up at his grandfather with admiration.
The old man smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair. “That’s true. I was a great scholar then and using the ancient maps, I calculated that the garden of Hera lay past the islands of the sirens, through the crashing rocks and on the coast of the inland sea.”
“What a journey,” sighed the boy.
“Indeed, it was fraught with peril and my crew knew that a terrible dragon protected the tree that bore the golden apples. As we drew near to our destination their fear grew and there were rumblings of mutiny.
“No!” sighed the boy, gazing at his grandfather with round eyes. He had heard this story many times before, but still found it thrilling.
“Yes,” nodded the old man. “I saw the crew gathered at the stern of the boat. There were storm clouds in the sky and the air was electric. They drew away from each other as if a conclusion had been reached and turned towards me. I saw the glint of metal as knives were unsheathed and then there was a boom of thunder and a shaft of lightening hit our mast. Flames leapt into the air and huge waves bore down upon us. There was no time or thought for anything but to save our lives.”
“By the time the storm was over, we had been washed up upon an island. The boat had lost both mast and rudder and we were marooned. I told the men to repair the hull of the boat as best they could and went to explore the island. There was small valley with a fresh water spring and, as I gazed in wonder at the pretty sight, the storm clouds parted and the sun shone down illuminating a single tree. There, among the glossy green leaves gleamed golden apples. The gods had brought us to the garden of Hera!”
“Were you not frightened of the dragon?” cried the boy.
Yes indeed. I approached the tree on trembling legs, expecting at any moment that the terrible beast would emerge from the undergrowth. There was silence, but for the sound of a single bird. I picked one of the apples – was this the deed that would bring forth the dragon? But the bird sang on and I knew that the gods were with me. I filled my cloak with the fruit, expecting that the weight of the gold would weigh me down but I was able to lift my burden easily . Then It dawned on me that the fruits were not made from gold after all. I drew my dagger and cut one in two. Not only was it not made from gold, it was not an apple but a strange segmented fruit with orange flesh.
Bowed down with disappointment I carried my sparse booty back to the ship. The men were in a bad mood, hungry and despairing. “Look,” I said. “I have brought you food and found a tree from which we can fashion a new mast.”
His eyes grew misty as he remembered that moment of salvation, then he smiled at the boy. “And so we cut down the tree, collected the fruit, and were able to mend our boat and have enough supplies to save us from starvation.”
“Perhaps the gods gave you a better gift than golden apples,” suggested the boy.
The old man nodded and raised his head to gaze around the orchard where golden fruit hung among the dark green leaves. “Yes, indeed for their gift not only saved our lives but, when I collected and planted the seeds, I created this orchard, which is the wonder of Greece.”
“What an adventure,” sighed the boy but deep in his heart he wished the old man had thought of a more imaginative name for the new fruit than oranges.