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.