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by Adam Lock

Rebecca takes the apple from her bag and bites into it, her fingers sliding across its skin, juice in her palm. She licks her fingers. Sour.

She sits on the garden bench, looks up at her dad’s bedroom, at the closed curtains, then at her watch. Another twenty minutes. He’ll leave for work at seven, assume she’s in her room.

The sun is coming up.

She takes another bite but stops chewing. A child’s memory of a worm burrowing into an apple one side and coming out the other makes her turn the apple in her hand. Nothing.

Two days ago, Kurt Cobain killed himself. Last night they’d watched MTV non-stop. The four of them: her and Jimmy on one settee, Janey and Michael on the other.

For Rebecca it’s Nevermind; for Janey, Bleach. There’s no Dave Grohl on Bleach, whose drumming took Nirvana to another level.

Janey went with Michael to his bedroom.

“The first three songs on Nevermind have guns in the lyrics,” Jimmy told her.

She knows the lyrics to all their songs by heart.

“Americans and guns,” she said as an explanation.

She imagines Kurt alone, loading the shotgun.

“He’d have had to use his feet to pull the trigger,” Jimmy said, before opening his mouth and stretching out his arms to hold an imaginary shotgun.

“Don’t, Jimmy.”

“What?”

The table was littered with empty cider cans.

Jimmy started kissing her. They kissed until her jaw and tongue hurt.

The TV flickered in the dark — more Nirvana songs, interviews, music experts.

His hand on her thigh, then beneath her skirt. And then it was too much, too sensitive, and she held his forearm. To appease him, or to apologise, she rolled on top and kissed him some more. In the silver flickering of the TV, awkward, with limbs, his and hers, shifting, there was pushing, him against her, her against him, or along, or through, or into, she couldn’t be sure. He sighed and moaned, and Smells Like Teen Spirit came on the TV. That riff. Those drums. Then Drain You, and Kurt singing about a poison apple.

On the walk home she told Janey, “Think I lost it last night.”

Janey looked at her side-on. “You think?”

Rebecca nodded.

“If you had, you’d know.”

But she didn’t know, which meant she still had it, and it wasn’t lost.

The sun is coming up.

She closes her eyes, recalls that photograph of Kurt lying on his back, on those hard tiles, dead. All you can see is his right arm, a hand, a shoe, lace untied, a policeman squatting next to him.

With her front teeth, she picks at the last of the flesh around the apple core. What is it with apples — the sex of apples? The ripeness, the juice, or maybe when cut in half they look like a vagina, like a heart.


Adam Lock writes in the Black Country, UK. He recently won the TSS Summer Quarterly Flash Competition 2018, and the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition 2018. He was placed third in the Cambridge Short Story Prize 2017, and has been shortlisted twice for the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2018. He’s had, or soon will have, stories appear in various publications such as New Flash Fiction Review, Lost Balloon, Fictive Dream, MoonPark Review, formercactus, Ghost Parachute, Spelk, Reflex, Retreat West, Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, and many others. Website: adamlock.net. Twitter: @dazedcharacter.

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