CIDER SUNRISE • by Oonah V Joslin

Rosie hid in the fork of the oldest trees.

“Come on, Apples,” her brother Jake said. “Let’s see your knickers!”

Jake was ten years older and strong.

She kicked at him wildly to fend him off.  Hunger would eventually force her down and she’d go home because there was nowhere else to go.  Sometimes she slept in the pigsty.

Her mother would as always, be calm and quiet.  Her father would be noisy and drunk.

“Not hungry, Apples?” Jake stole food from her plate.  She’d complained once and was sent to bed without.

She sometimes watched her father as he scratted apples in the granite mill, made the pomace, pressed the cheese between folds of canvas.  She was surrounded by the sour, sweet smell.

“The difference ‘tween rotting and fermenting’s only in intention,” said her dad.  “Used to be they’d put a pig’s head in the vat and when that was dissolved, all eaten away, not a pick of flesh left, they’d know they had Scrumpy.  You watch out girl.  Go and help your mother.  And do as you’re told, right?”


Mother died. Both men ruined any chance of happiness that came her way.

Father died. Jake the bully became Jake the tyrant.

“This bloody pig swill’s not even hot!”  The plate missed her head by an inch and shattered.  Gravy slid in a sorry trail down the wall.  “Clean it up!  I’ll be back for supper.”  He would return later, fists fuelled with alcohol.

Rosie remembered the difference and fermented a plan.


She didn’t mind the cleaning up. She was used to walls splattered with hatred. His head went in the first vat and when the Scrumpy was ready, the pigs ate the residue along with the apple pulp. The third vat disposed of the torso.

At last the door clicked shut on that life. Rosie went to the orchard to give a final libation to her oldest friend and protector, then she walked away and the slanting rays of pale gold through the orchard heralded a cider sunrise.

Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets. Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The binnacles Shorts Poetry comp 2009, Inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009 and Toe Tags.  Her work can be found at Bewildering Stories, Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook.  Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Peter Charles

    Hi Oonah

    the slanting rays of pale gold through the orchard heralded a cider sunrise. – beautiful last line.

    A pig gets his just desserts. Great atmosphere and setting, kind of rustic-gothic!



  • Nicely done Oonah, you are on good form with this bitter sweet tale.

  • jennifer walmsley

    Loved this Oonah and particularly that line, ‘she was used to walls splattered with hatred.’


  • Sarah

    Love this story and the ‘cider sunrise’ – beautifully written and chilling.

  • This is professional writing; eloquent, crafted and beautiful. It is also an example of someone really pushing the limits of the micro-story format. Would this be more engaging with a little more detail?

  • Another little gem, Oonah!

  • Now that’s what I call sweet revenge, go girl!

  • You never cease to amaze me. Another pearl on your string! Especially love this:

    She was used to walls splattered with hatred.

  • Stacey Flynn

    This micro-fiction is like a prose poem, very beautifully crafted. It reminds me of Carolyn Forche. Nicely done.

  • Margie

    I wish that I could jump on the band wagon with the others, but I can’t. I am a HUGE fan of yours and have loved so many of your previous stories, but, this one dd not work for me. It seemed disjointed between scenes in a very distracting ways. Maybe it would e better in a longer piece. 5 stars for the author. . 2 for this story, because it had some gorgeous, discriptive lines.

  • Jen

    Ah, nothing like sweet revenge! I loved the prose style so much, but then of course it was beuatil, since it was Oonah’s.

  • Ah, retribution. How sweet. And 40 percent alcohol, I imagine.

  • I also loved the line, “walls splattered with hatred”. I also agree the opening was slightly disjointed, but the twist was so satisfying, the ending so calming, I still loved it.

  • MichaelEhart

    Second time in as many days I’ve heard scrumpie –last night on a rerun of the Avengers.
    Nice word. Scrumpie scrumpie scrumpie.

  • Fehmida

    Me too, loved that line “walls splattered with hatred” as also “slanting rays of pale gold through the orchard heralded a cider sunrise.”

    Good one as usual Oonah.


  • Hi Oonah,

    great use of language in this. Liked the wassail to the apple tree.



  • Bill West

    Short, powerful and beautifully descriptive.
    Some memorable phrases.

    Nice one, Oonah.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you to all for your reading and for your comments.

  • Errol Nimbly

    You could say, “His head went to her wine”.

  • Rob

    Good characters, clear writing, some good background, a good set-up for revenge, characters you love to hate . . . however I thought it lacked drama. Began with a good build-up but the peak, the murder and getting rid of the body, was rather flat, just A+B=C. After all the abuse, what drove her over the edge? How did she do it? Was she scared about the act, or cold-blooded? Was she worried about the police, the neighbors, her relatives? Was she happy afterward? Murder is the ultamet soul-polluting act, did it set her free or compound her bondage by her abusive family?

  • Amy Corbin

    Very poetic prose. Beautiful writing, Oonah!

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Good questions Robert and I take your point. However, I wanted to play it in such a way that Rosie felt nothing anymore and never would – for anybody or about anything. I think that happens to people who have been very damaged. The revenge is good for the reader but for Rosie – as I said – she was used to walls splattered with hatred – she doesn’t feel it in the way we do.

    I hope that explains the thought behind writing it so flat.

  • Jen S

    ‘fermented a plan’
    Enjoyed the language of this unhappy piece. I just hope she found some happiness.

  • I think “writing it flat” was the right decision. The more violent an act the flatter should be the presentation. In this way the act speaks for itself. It was good to see Jake get what was coming to him and that the protagonist gets away with it. The story is a bit disjointed because of the time span it has to cover. But the lives of these characters is disjointed, too. As a piece of flash fiction, I think the story is succussful.

  • laura

    great story. one thing, i didn’t get who the protector was in the last paragraph.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    The tree she used to hide in, Laura.

    Thanks Guy.

  • Rose Gardener

    I agree with Guy- this character is best presented slightly numbed. But even the most damaged humans have feelings albeit skewed ones. Which is why I so adored the line; ‘Rosie remembered the difference and fermented a plan.’ It gives a hint of her disturbed emotions and (contrary to what Rob said earlier) I think, adequate motive. Revenge can be a slow burner that waits for its opportunity. There doesn’t have to be a moment where something snaps.
    A potentially difficult topic. Superbly done.

  • Celeste

    Brilliant as ever, Oonah. Really excellent piece of flash.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you Rose and Celeste for your generous comments

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