At the apple orchard we’re walking, after the mother and daughter farmers at the counter give us our waxy paper bags, and it’s a little too late in the season—too few apples left, and often rotted. There are fewer people here than we’d expected, too, and you tell me that, in some way, it’s making you self-conscious. You’ve dressed up too much, too many fall colors, where our environment is grayed and yellowed. On your phone, you answer a text from your mother which you tell me frustrates you: Why does she need to know where I—
In your cutting yourself off, you look ahead and I follow your eyes: a man on the ground, criss-cross-apple-sauce, huddled around a BabyBjörn with a dog beside him barking and, then, quiet as we are.
Cole Phillips (he/him) is a writer and educator living in Maine with his dogs October and Smudge. He holds an MFA from New England College. His work has appeared in Juked, Post Road, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere, and has been longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions. He is the author of Standish Blue (Ghost City Press).