It wasn’t the first time he’d seen them, giggling and squirming around each other, leaning against the apple trees in the bottom orchard, their shoes scrunching the summer-dry leaves. He wanted to be alone, but they kept coming back to this place, his place, and disturbing the silence that he shared with the birds.
Each time he had wanted to shout them away, even swear at them if needs be, but something had stopped him. Inexplicably he’d stayed silent, watching them, their heads, their bodies, their lips together. From his viewpoint high in the branches he could see the boy’s hands, like eels bending themselves around her curves, getting into secret places, between the buttons of her blouse. And her. Fascinated, he watched her most. She moved her body in special ways to help the boy reach those secret places, twisting her neck, arching her back, capturing his legs with hers. The noises they were making, low moans and sighs, the juice-sucking slurps of kisses, rose up to fill his ears, replacing the birdsong he wanted to hear.
He couldn’t bear anymore. Still hidden by the greenery, he shuffled along the branch, reaching for an apple. An Egremont Russet, not quite yellowed up, not quite ripe, but still a good size in his hand. With care he manoeuvred further along the branch reaching a fork that would hold him. Below, their heads were bent down as if in prayer, absorbed in their own selves. He aimed well, the apple cut through the lower branches and struck hard. A faint comical twock echoed up through the boughs to him. He watched for a moment as the boy continued to suck at her neck, unknowing. Then slowly, like a clockwork toy unwinding, she slid down the trunk of the tree, out of his grasp and onto the hard knotty roots that stood up out of the earth like veins. Satisfied, he watched the boy’s panic rise, watched him look around for help before running off.Waiting until there were no more footsteps, he crept down out of the tree and stood over the girl. Her face was pale, her breathing slow, different to the hard fast breaths of earlier. He didn’t notice his own breathing had changed. He looked at her body, slightly twisted where she lay. Kneeling down, his fingertips brushed her cheek first. He always started with the face.