Unaware that you are being watched, you reach an arm under the fence, scooping apples from the neighbor’s yard.
You know the rule, but Dad won’t make pie unless you get enough apples, and so you are cheating because you want the pie and because you think that no one is home. Until a shadow passes over you, you do not realize that you been found out. Your hand pulls back of its own accord, but the withered old man from next door has snuck up on you and he is going to tell your mother. He grimaces before speaking. His voice is strange and garbled like a robot long left to rust.
“Those are mine,” he says.
And you try to think of possible retorts or explanations, but your mouth has gone dry and excuses seem futile. So you offer him the basket, knowing that this is a chance at survival. Knowing that maybe he will accept this peace dove. The pie is not important anymore — now this is about avoiding an hour cleaning the basement.
Unaware that you were being watched, you make a dash for the stairs. It is, of course, too late, and the jolt of electricity surprises you into a heap on the floor. A guard approaches and prods you with something, but responding doesn’t seem possible, let alone worth it. You try to imagine that apple tree in the back yard. It was terrible for climbing, but the apples were small and yellow and so sweet. Someone used to make pie. Who was that?
Grandmothers make pies, right? But no, that’s not right. No.
Wait. It was your Dad. He loved apple pie. You remember the smell of crust browning in the oven before being filled. The curling, bubbling cinnamon smell. You had a rat named Cinnamon once; now you are the rat.
You are in the cage. You are mastering the mazes, learning the routines, obeying the rules.
When escape occurs to you again, you remember that they were watching before. You remember the electricity and the prodding. You think, “They are watching still.”
Unaware that you are being watched, you stick a finger into the cinnamon and sugar, mixed and ready by the pie shells. You can hear Dad in the pantry, slicing apples. You feel the gritty sugar on your skin and smell the cinnamon. Soon, you have stuck your whole hand into the bowl.
Only then do you realize that your mother has been sitting on the couch behind you. Maybe it is the look of horror on your face, or the absurdity of what you’ve done, but she beings to laugh.
At first you are nervous, but she laughs and laughs and you begin to laugh, too.
Later, she hugs you and tells you not to do it again. “What a mess,” she says, and then she laughs again.
Unaware that you were being watched, you eat the whole pie. Each bite is sweet and crumbling and smooth in your mouth. It is so good.
And then you are grounded.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Fran challenged me with “unaware that you were being watched, you…. (finish the story),” and I challenged Kameko Murakami with “wearing purple and green, like a thug.”