Don’t touch it. That’s all he said.
But oh, how hard that was. I didn’t even like apples, but this one glistened. This one echoed with the crunch of satisfaction. My stomach grumbled, cringed, wept every second I stayed still.
I had hardly eaten in days. Once, someone told me it was easier to not eat at all than to eat very little. I didn’t believe them, and because my pockets were so light as of late, food had been hard to come by.
I looked around the tent, trying to determine what kind of people I was about to shack up with. Bits and bobs, odds and ends, things of no discernable value were strewn about shelves and the desk and the floor. I’m sure they bore value to circus people, but I was no circus person. Not yet, anyway. Not until he came back and saw that I had not touched the apple.
It must have been a test. But he made no mention of a test, and no mention of whether or not my new occupation relied on restraint.
It felt like hours had passed. I had, in my haze, dreamt every possible method of slicing and consuming the apple. I was in the middle of imagining cutting it up with an axe when I realized the axe swings I had heard were not axe swings, and were in fact footsteps.
“Good,” he muttered. “This we can work with.”
So a test, after all.