I am working on an A-Z challenge, this one featuring short pieces of fiction. Today’s letter is O for Overpass.
Under the Apple Tree
As she stood on the overpass, gazing downward, Harmony felt the despair washing over her again, insurmountable, overwhelming and irresistible. The opening in the chain-link fence beckoned her, welcomed her, and embraced her, assuring her that the free flow of vehicles below her, would do the trick instantaneously. All she had to do was to take that last step.
Who had cut the fence in the first place? Harmony didn’t know and she didn’t care. All she knew was that it would suffice. All of her pain and all of her depression would be eliminated in an instant, and calm and serenity would descend upon her like a veil of fog. A big-rig lumbered past, below her, vibrating the overpass, and once again she thought how quick and efficient the whole process would be.
She thought about the kid who probably had used the heavy-duty wire cutter to cut the aperture in the barrier. Was it a prank? Were they throwing oranges? Were they having fun? Did he have any idea that someone else might see the gap in the barricade as something other than a moment of excitement, an opportunity to entertain? She doubted it.
For a moment she pondered the events leading up to this ultimate decision. The breakup, the divorce, the heartache leading to her decision that she no longer cared enough to continue down the path of life by herself. Her friends told her that there would be others; in her heart she felt they were wrong. What she had lost was beyond description. She had given her soul away; there was no regaining that. There was nothing left for her, but to take that last step.
She stepped forward, positioned herself to take the fatal plunge, and stopped, suddenly aware that she was being joined on the overpass by a second person, a little girl skipping along merrily, alternately singing and humming a little ditty, that sounded vaguely familiar. The little girl had appeared out of nowhere; the song she was singing was, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree [with Anyone Else but Me...].”
“Hi, what are you doing?” The little girl, not more than third or fourth grade level, looked up at her with a rosy smile.
“I’m... nothing. I’m just watching the traffic go by,” Harmony answered, automatically. What was she supposed to tell this sweet little girl? I’m going to kill myself?
“Do you like the song I’m singing? ‘Don’t sit under the apple tree, with anyone else but me...anyone else but me, anyone else but me. Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, till I come marching home.’ My mama used to sing that to me.”
“Oh. Well, that’s nice. Did she ever sit under the apple tree with you?” Harmony could not ignore the little free-spirited sweetie. The little girl had her hair in pig-tails, and her face was brushed with freckles, and she looked so happy with her beaming smile. Oh, to be that carefree, again.
The little girl’s smile dimmed. “Yes, all the time. We sat on the little bench that Daddy made for us.”
“That must have been nice. I don’t have an apple tree handy. I live in an apartment, by myself.” Harmony reflected on the three weeks she had resided in her new apartment, devoid of any wall hangings, devoid of any life.
“We have an apple tree. See it? Over there where all that green is? I wish I could sit under it again with my mama.” A cloud passed over her face, rearranging her features, wiping out her smile.
“Why can’t you sit under the apple tree with your mama?” Harmony was too caught up in her own world to see what was coming.
“My mama is up in heaven. That’s what my daddy says. But I shouldn’t be sad, because there was nothing we could do.” The little girl came up to Harmony and held her hand out towards her. “Will you come and sit with me?”
And then Harmony knew that there was something she could do. She could get the hell off that overpass, and sit under the apple tree, with someone who cared enough to invite her. “Sure, Honey. I’d love to sit under the apple tree with you, but only if you’ll sing your song again.”