Crab Apple

Note: This is a YA short story.

Crab Apple – Excerpt

I saw her first the day I found Dad on the kitchen floor. The new girl. The wild girl.

At first I thought Dad had been drinking again. There were beer cans scattered across the floor. But the cans were still full, and I couldn’t smell alcohol.

There was something strange about the way Dad was lying. He was too still. His stick-thin arms and legs were sprawled loosely across the tiles. I thought for a moment he was dead.

He was still breathing, though, a wheezy, tight sound, as though a plastic whistle was stuck in his throat. He didn’t wake when I shook him.

I’d begun taking first aid classes at school when Dad started losing weight and coughing. There was no one else at home to help. But they had never shown us how to deal with this. I put him in the recovery position and called an ambulance.

Illustration by Melissa Ferreira.

The girl was there when I went outside to wait for the ambulance. She was squatted on our garden wall like a wild-haired monkey. She had on a dirty white T-shirt and shorts that showed scratched legs. I guessed she was about fourteen, the same age as me. Her eyes were as brown as oak and her cheeks were freckled and sunburnt. There were leaves in her tangled hair.

“What’s your name?” she said. “You, what’s your name?”

“Josh,” I said.

“Joshua,” she laughed. “Stupid name.”

She winked down at me. Her grin was as wide as her face.

Then she leapt from the wall and dashed away up the hill, her wild hair streaming behind her like a comet’s tail. I watched her disappear.

In the distance I heard the ambulance siren approaching.

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