Here we go, 300 words:
We found it under the apple tree in Jake Wilson’s yard.
It was a human skull, but in miniature, nestled inside a slowly-rotting Macintosh. You would swear it had grown there, and maybe it had, for the split, shriveled skin housed no pips, just the sickly sweet decomposing apple, and the tiny white skull.
There was something wrong about it, more wrong then finding bones inside fruit. The apple should have been long gone, scavenged by a raccoon, or pecked apart by birds, and the remnants carted off by armies of insects.
And the apple tree hadn’t bloomed last summer, or the one before that. And it had never, ever born fruit.
“You know,” Reiko said, after we had poked holes for the festering, liquid flesh to ooze out, peeled the skin back, and worried the skull free with twigs and pointed rocks, “my grandma says you’re supposed to bury dead ladies under cherry trees to make them bloom.”
I'm surprised. Reiko never talks about her grandma, unless it’s to call her an old superstitious bat, so maybe that’s why I believe her. “Is that why they’re pink, all the blood in the soil?”
“Maybe it’s the iron. Blood’s got iron right?”
Sarah nudges the skull with her shoe, and it sinks deeper in the puddle of rotten apple. “What about apple trees then?”
Reiko shrugs. “Dunno.”
But I can tell she’s holding back the way she’s kneeling so stiff and perfect, like when she’s wearing that weird, traditional dress-thing on days her grandma teaches her how to prepare tea.
I lean sideways and butt her shoulder with my head.
Reiko’s pose breaks.
“C’mon,” I say. “What about apple trees?”
She draws in a sharp breath. “I don’t know, but she promised Jake it would bloom this year.”