Once Bitten

Tokyo is freezing at this time of year. The snow crumbles beneath your feet like broken dreams. I have just bought Dango on a stick. It is my favourite thing to eat at this time of year. It’s the first time I have left my apartment in a month, as I’ve been severely depressed. Showering has not been an easy task. Every time I switched the shower on, I would sit on the tatami mats in my bedroom, dreading the prospect of water hitting my skin.

I need to go to the supermarket for more supplies because I am all out of mikan. My usual breakfast is one mikan cut in half with a small dollop of whipped cream. It might seem strange to have that every morning, but I am a creature of strict habit. I must visit a shrine and pay my respects to the loved ones I have lost.

After finishing my sweet treat, I place the wooden stick in my pocket. The supermarket is only a short walk away from the Dango stand. I am overwhelmed by my choice of fruits; they must have just had a delivery. A woman nearby catches my eye. She picks up an apple and bites into it while locking eyes with me, the opalescent juices running down her chin.

She throws the apple to me, which after some panicked fumbling, I manage to catch. When I turn to look at the woman again, she has disappeared. A store clerk has now made a beeline for me.

“Excuse me, could you please pay for the fruit before touching it?”

“It wasn’t. I wasn’t…never mind. I will pay for it. I’m sorry,” I say in defeat.

After grabbing everything I need, I make my way to the front of the store, where I see a considerable commotion. The apple eating woman is lying on the floor surrounded by people in distress.

“She has no pulse!”

How can she be dead? She just bit into an apple and threw it at me. What is going on here?

“What happened to her?” I ask.

Nobody answers me; of course, they are far too busy tending to the corpse on the floor.

The following day, I sit at my kitchen table with a mikan flesh side up. The knife I used to cut the fruit stares at me with a blinding glint; the blood of the fruit swims like a fish on the sharp edge. Sighing, I get out of my chair and turn the radio on. I have become accustomed to shortwave radio, and it soothes me.

“The infamous writer Halvetta Row died was found in her apartment yesterday morning. They found a bitten apple next to her body. Rumours that she poisoned herself with cyanide have been circling around the community,” says the show host.

In her apartment? I saw her die at the supermarket.

My state of deep thought is interrupted by the newspaper being posted through my letterbox.

“The infamous writer was found in her apartment on Tuesday morning. Police had found a bitten apple beside her body. Miss Row was found naked inside her bathtub, thoroughly submerged beneath the water. Investigations are ongoing.”

I hear water running, but I don’t know where it’s coming from. The apartment is quickly filling up with a foul-smelling liquid. Holes are being punched through the walls of my apartment. A cornflower light seeps into the room. Is this another daydream?

Pinch.

Nothing.

Exhausted, I collapse into the disgusting water. I turn my head to see my arm outstretched, and an apple is eating away at my palm—the skin shreds like tissue paper. I dream of mikan and sweet cream and how the fruit’s acidity harmonises with it. Please make me a prisoner of this daydream. I want the flesh of the fruit to be my jailer. The escape is not the most crucial part. It is the will to live inside a dream.

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