by Copper Rose
The rusty bucket banged against Billy’s leg. Grandma said not to come home until he’d found enough apples to make her special apple pie surprise. Her apple pie surprise wasn’t as good as Mama’s had been, at least that’s what he remembered. But Mama had been gone a long time now, which is why he’d had to move in with Grandma.
Billy kicked up dust as he plodded along the dirt road. He ducked his head down when he saw Verna Fluke walking toward him.
“Hi ya, Billy.”
“Verna.” Billy didn’t look at her.
“Looking for some apples to take home so Grandma can make a pie.”
“Why, there is a perfect apple tree over by the cemetery next to the Apostle Church. You should go on over there.” Verna stared at Billy and then giggled into her hand.
Billy nodded suspiciously, said thank you and kept on going. He looked back over his shoulder once and saw Verna laughing right out loud with no one there to see her. Billy shivered at the evilness he felt whenever Verna came around.
Billy kept walking until he came to the cemetery next to the Apostle Church. His eyes scanned across the field. There it was, a tree so full of apples the branches nearly touched the ground.
Billy turned off the road, climbed up the steep embankment, and found himself at the edge of a goldenrod field. Beautiful yellow goldenrod heads filled up all the space between where he was standing and the apple tree.
“I’m glad I don’t have allergies to this stuff,” he said to himself as he began pushing his way through the goldenrod field to get to the apple tree. He was halfway through the field when he heard a sweet voice.
“Hey Billy, whatcha doing?”
It was Emily Evanovich.
“I’m getting some apples so Grandma can make a pie.”
“Need some help?”
Billy stared at Emily and shrugged his shoulders, the bucket scraping along the thigh of his faded bib overalls.
Emily disappeared in the deep ditch and Billy saw her blond hair top the rise. Then her face and pretty pink shirt popped into view. He watched her hands sweeping along the tops of the flowers as she made her way toward him. Then she started to scream.
It took Billy a minute to realize what was happening. The apples on the tree had completely held his attention until Emily had come along. He hadn’t noticed all the bees in the goldenrod field. Emily hands sweeping across the tops of the flowers had riled the bees. The bees were all around him, but they were starting to swarm toward Emily.
“Stop screaming!” Billy yelled as he stood completely still.
But it was too late.
When Billy got home with his empty bucket Grandma said, “Where are the apples? I told you not to come home until you had enough apples for my special apple pie surprise.”