Taste the future

Writing group exercise: write about a single, pivotal moment in someone’s life. Describe this moment using the senses of sight, touch, sound, taste and smell.

He could not have asked for a more perfect October day. As Noah and the children climbed out of the Land Rover, the round, ripe, tart aroma of apples hit them in a wave. A curtain of blue sky hung beneath the sun like a robe, or a blanket, snugging them all together in the warmth of tradition and quintessence. Esther and Abel skipped off into the dappled tunnel between the careful rows of trees, trailing plastic bags and shrieks of laughter while their father hung back and paid for their harvest. He followed the sound of his children’s bickering, turning his ankle every so often on an apple too eager to wait on the branch. Yellow jackets defended the fallen fruit, brandishing their daggers with a warning growl. Noah’s eyes roved the treetops idly. He reached for a large pink apple and bit into it with a sharp crunch. The juice welled up around his teeth and ran onto his chin, more tart than sweet. The meat proved a little mealy but he chewed it with gusto. They had done this every year since Abel was born. This was the first time without Melissa, but the kids, fighting and laughing in the next row, didn’t seem to mind that their mother had to work. Noah was the only one alone. He tried to infuse each bite, each step, each breath with the sweet, sweet flavor he’d always associated with apple-picking day.

Abruptly, and without the sense that he had become any less alone, Noah suddenly was not alone. A man in white reclined against a nearby tree trunk, eating, like Noah, with noisy gusto. Noah had to squint, for the man seemed bright and out of focus, as though he’d been pasted in from a different location, or a portrait of angels. When he noticed Noah looking, the man in white hurled the apple’s core over his shoulder and stood to his full height: a good seven feet, now that he wasn’t slouching.

“Noah,” he said, striding into the broad sunlight. Noah shielded his eyes, dazzled. “I have an important message for you.”

“Um,” said Noah, trying very hard to look at the man and failing. “Okay. What is it?”

“I need you,” said the man, “to build an igloo.”

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