Anna Zwede


She stood on the bare ground in front of the small house, arms loose along her sides, face tilted toward the sky. 

He sat on the porch, watching. 

“Knowed,” he said to himself.  “Knowed yesterday.  Ol’ blackbird sittin’ on the fence make a screechy caw four times ‘fore he flew off.”

A few fat drops splatted here and there.

“Sure nuff knowed.”

A patter on the roof above him, on the dirt ground, on her upturned face.  Thunder rumbling somewhere back in the hills. 

“Won’t see lightnin’ here, not this time.”

There was a stir of wind, drops began falling faster and the sky darkened.  She was only a few yards away, though, so he could still see her well.  He watched her dress slowly get drenched as the rain got heavier, how it clung to her body, how the water slicked her hair to her head.

When it was time, she walked over to the chopping block, removed the axe with a quick upward tug, pinched the apple she’d set there earlier between thumb and middle finger and brought the small blade down, pulling her hand away just before it struck.  Lodging the axe in the block again, she picked first one half up from the ground and then the other, holding the split apple out, turning the parts round and round. 

“Wash it good,” he murmured.

His gut got tight and he felt the throb.  He said something else, but pounding rain absorbed even the sound of his own voice.    

She would look at the core and make the decision quickly.  He knew this from all the previous times and it was no surprise anyway, because his mother had warned him about her, about her kind.  Most days, he was glad he hadn’t heeded Ma.

She stepped onto the porch, water streaming from her and pooling around her bare feet.  He stood, straightening his back and squaring his shoulders, and came to face her.  They locked eyes, her face now tipped up to his.  He knew better than to speak a single word.   

She handed him one of the apple halves with her right hand, then – never shifting her gaze – sank her teeth into the one she held in her left and tore out a bite. 

He emitted a growling hum of satisfaction. 

She tossed her head and turned aside.  Finishing off her part of the apple, she got out of her dress and, leaving it in a small heap on the porch, went inside.

Grinning and munching, he undid his belt, dropped his trousers and stepped off the porch into the rain.     

Anna Zwede is a Dutch-American national living in Paris, where she writes, teaches, writes, sings, writes, walks, writes… and tries – often unsuccessfully – to avoid repetition.