Short Story: Crab Apple
This is a young adult story and is suitable for teenagers.
"I saw her first the day I found Dad on the kitchen floor. The new girl. The wild girl…"
When Josh's dad falls ill with lung cancer and a strange new girl appears at his school, Josh has to face up to two frightening threats. They may be more closely linked than he realises.
Crab Apple is available as an ebook from Amazon.
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.
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.
Continue reading Crab Apple as an ebook from Amazon.
Listen to podcast of Crab Apple free online in Pseudopod.
First published in Realms of Fantasy, February 2005.
Republished in Faeries, Issue 22 (French translation).
Republished in Pseudopod, Issue 56, 21 September 2007 (as a podcast).
There are two stories here, each gently dancing around the other. In the first, Samphire handles a child's reactions to the serious illness of his only remaining parent with extraordinary finesse... Samphire really does a beautiful job with this short piece.
Patrick Samphire effectively mixes thoroughly contemporary conflicts with traditional fairy fantasy.
- Science Fiction Romance.
...a nice, subtle faerie tale about hope and embracing the wildness inside us.
... an interesting story with nice parallels between Josh's dad and the "father" figure of the Crab...
- David Roy.
Read full review.
Voici un joli conte, Le pommier de Crabtree de Patrick Samphire, où deux enfants vont se sauver l’un l’autre... Beaucoup d’émotions dans ce texte où la féérie se mêle délicatement à la réalité. (Review of French translation of the story; I have no idea what this means. Hopefully it's something good...)
'Crab Apple' by Patrick Samphire is a deep, subtle story. At the same time that the narrator's father is battling cancer, he meets a wild girl who claims to live in a tree. It is a story of helplessness and hope.
The story illustration is by Melissa Ferreira.