Me and Kyoko get into an argument about apples. She says Granny Smiths are the best but she's wrong. To prove her wrongness I drive to Value King and buy a single Gala apple, a beautiful, firm globe of green-flecked red, and then I drive back home and bite into it. The crunch is exquisite and the flavor is a wonderful, complex tapestry of crispness, sweetness, and tartness mixed together in perfect proportion. I chew the large chunk of apple and swallow it and open my eyes and toss the apple to Kyoko, triumphant in my victory. The apple thunks against the living room floor and rolls under the rotting coffee table. Dust-drenched plastic clings to the musty furniture. The headlights of my car throw greasy cones of light through the broken windows of the house.
II. THE GREAT ATLANTIC HIGHWAY
They built a two-lane highway across the Atlantic but the storms got really bad so they closed it down after a while. Me and Kyoko were driving from New York to London at the time, so we were the last car they let through in the eastbound lane. The drive was quiet and peaceful but the glare off the water was terrible and it was really hard to stay awake amid all that blue. Just before dawn on the second day of driving, a tropical storm came up from the gulf and flooded the gray string of highway before us. Kyoko stopped the car well short of the water, stared at the concrete median on our left, and sighed. The car rocked within the whirl of the powerful wind. Huge raindrops snapped like buckshot against the windows. Kyoko looked at me with a disbelieving smile and shifted into reverse.
III. A RUN TO GANYMEDE
On Saturday morning I go for a run out by the Miller Farm. Halfway through my run I run past a middle-aged guy running naked in the other direction. Though I avoid eye contact, the guy crosses the street and falls into stride beside me, his filthy Nike running shoes clomping loudly against the pavement. After a few seconds of silence, he says something I can’t hear. I tug my left headphone out of my ear and ask him what he said. Tomorrow is the day, Brother, the naked guy says. Breathing hard, I squint at the guy through the blinding August sunlight. What about tomorrow? I say, not really wanting to know. It’s when Jesus will lead his flock back to his palace of gold on Ganymede. It’s the glorious return to paradise, Brother, the naked guy says, with a huge smile that droops like half-melted plastic. I give him a silent nod and stare down at the cracked pavement bouncing beneath my feet. When it becomes clear the guy won’t go away until I say something more, I look up and ask, What’s Ganymede? But instead of answering, the guy grins at me, points up at the sky, and suddenly veers off the road. Looking to my right, I watch the naked figure dash off across the fallowing field, a cloud of brown dust swirling in his wake.
Steve Gergley (he/him) is the author of the short story collection, A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair (LEFTOVER Books, '22), and the forthcoming novel, Skyscraper (West Vine Press, '23). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Barren Magazine, New World Writing, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets: @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: stevegergleyauthor.wordpress.com.