ESTHER'S APPLES

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Submitted Date 02/05/2019
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“There’s no such thing as a happy ending,” Aunt Esther said one autumn afternoon as she washed the dishes.

I looked at her, surprised. “Everything ends happily.”

“I don’t think your textbook would agree. Four kingdoms fell just last week!”

I laughed. Yes, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and even Rome had collapsed in succession during last week’s history review.

Aunt yelled out and slammed the counter. “Who is stealing our apples? We barely have enough crops to support ourselves this year!” She leaned toward the window as she stared.

“Is someone really stealing?”

“Come and look!” Aunt called.

Indeed, a trail of our heirloom apples led from the orchard into the neighboring field.

“It can’t be Mr. Dreeves. He’s too nice and too rich to do that!” I frowned.

“True . . . mostly. But it’s not him. He’s proud, but he’s also cared for us.” My aunt thought a moment. “We’ll have to stake out tonight to catch whoever’s doing it. It’s funny—I haven’t heard any noises in the night, but it’s happened three times now. Just shows trouble’s always underfoot.”

“We may catch him,” I smiled, trying to be cheerful, “and won’t that make a happy ending!”

Aunt Esther gazed downward. “Mmmm, we’ll see.”

 

That night we set up our hideout, lying under the thick hedges next to the house. We were most stealthy; we even made it look like we carried on with our evening as usual, eating dinner, watching TV, reading, and going to sleep, but soon we slipped into the undergrowth and watched, flashlights and shovel (for protective measures) at hand.

“Who do you think it could be?” I asked in a whisper.

“No idea,” Aunt Esther replied.

We waited for a long while. I began to wonder if groveling in the cold dirt was really necessary.

“Are you sure we need to be lying here?” I muttered.

“Do we want another robbery to occur beneath our noses?”

I was silenced. We looked out into the gloomy backyard orchard. I shifted to check my watch.

“Cindy, be still! Someone’s here.”

I looked, and there, mid our rows of low, gnarly trees were the movements of a tall, warmly-dressed man. He carried a sack with him, and hurriedly began plucking from different trees. Aunt Esther nudged me to get out from under the bush. We crept closer to him, our hearts racing.

“Who are you?” Aunt Esther shouted. The man made an exclamation and started to run, but halted in the blazing light of our flashlights. “William? What’s going on?” Aunt Esther asked our neighbor.

Mr. Dreeves smirked as he stumbled for words. “What’s some apples to an old spinster and a child? They’re better in my hands, but you’re too proud to give over.”

“Leave!” Aunt Esther pointed to the right. Her voice shook.

Mr. Dreeves made a scoffing noise, and shuffled back to his property. I stared after him.

“I thought he was our friend!”

“Not anymore,” Aunt Esther said. “Good; let’s go inside.”

 

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