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Rome Beauty

By: Amber Costello

Rome Beauty. As I bite into the procured fruit I am a girl, again. I wipe the earth from the firm ripe skin and puncture the oily surface with my teeth. The moist fleshy pulp massages my tongue as countless Indian summers pass. Cool winds and warm bright sunlight compete for possession of my cheeks. The juices trickle inside the corners of my lips, and sticky fingers wipe the droplets from their hollow. The slightly salty juice travels the length of my esophagus and lands in the confines of my stomach. This elixir causes butterfly flutters across its length. Acres of Rome Beauty dot the hillside, as I linger. Running through the leafed encampment, I am held captive by the orchard's power. Breathing in the sweet aroma of the fallen fruit the ants and bees succumb to the fruit's piper. Transfixed inside the grounds, I lie beneath the warm umbrella of the tree, and surrender to the earth.

"You die." The brutal phrase scatters the bees and ants. The apples vaporize into the horizon. The sun and breeze curl away from me with nuclear aversion. I am once again in ward 14.

"You die." The whispered phrase awakens me as I rise from my bunk.

I view the half-eaten apple with truth.

No comment escapes my lungs while sitting in wait. I don't know her name, nor care to know it. I only know that Rome Beauty was hers, and I took it.

Two other no names surround me as they grip each of my arms directly above the elbow. Leader no name grabs the half eaten apple from my grip. Viscously, she smears the fleshy pulp into my face. The bitter seeds form steak knife accuracy along the ridge of my jaw. The cool presence of the juice begins to stiffen on my skin, and the sting in my eyes applauds its encore.

Leader no name places Rome Beauty under my nose and pushes upward with extreme force. This force further proof that Newton's assessment of the apple was correct. No name's body in motion continues across my bunk. The two no name accomplices caught off balance and the apple law renders its decision. I use Newton's apple diversion to my advantage and stand square. Momentarily stunned, the no names grapple for right.

During the disturbance, leader no name dropped her weapon. The tiny clatter as the metal hit the tile floor signaling me to capture it. The cold steel of the honed mattress strap warms against my palm. Its raw edge tickles my index finger. Lightly, I rub my finger along the serrated edge. No name rises from my bunk. Before she can turn to face me, I grip the make shift weapon. One swift swipe creases her neck like paring the skin of Rome Beauty. Limp, she collapses across the bunk face down. Blood begins to pool off the side of the bunk. The two other no names scatter away from me as the sirens scream.

The weapon forgotten, I loosely drop it to the floor as I am thrown forward by the guards. The front of my head hits the side of the bunk and I land face down in the mirror of blood. Its salty warm taste gathers along my lips.

Eyes stinging, I stare at the half eaten apple that resides only inches away from me. The aged brown flesh stares back skinless. The guard's knee presses on my temple, and the vision of the apple begins to fade. Two guards pull each of my shackled arms and I am righted.

"Animal." The guard spats in my ear. They usher me into the common walk. Each arm supported by a guard as solitary greets me.

"It'll be quite some time before you ever get another apple." I sit on the tile floor, my back against the wall. The dried blood cracks along the corners of my mouth. Licking away the layer of blood, the dormant apple juice emerges. The salty sweet taste drapes across my tongue. The sun is shining. Rome Beauty. I am a girl, again.

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