One day Mrs. Mud decided to visit a part of the world she had never been to before. And while she was at it, she thought it would be clever to buy some apples, as they did not grow on her farm. However, on the way home, while admiring the bright blue sky, Mrs. Mud tripped on a stone and dropped the basket of apples she had just bought.

“Oh dear and just when I thought it was going to be a perfect day,” she sighed. She stared at the apples strewn over the road for a moment before moaning, “Now it is totally ruined!”

At that moment a boy was passing by, so she asked him to help her, “Oh please, can you help a helpless old woman?”

“Gladly,” the boy said.

“Oh, I need to pick up my apples. Could you run to my old man who lives on the top of that mountain over there? You can’t miss it, as we live alone. I myself am unable to bend over, as I am an old woman. Here, take this pencil to defend yourself against some half-eaten ogres, but don’t worry - they are alcoholics and if you are a quiet little boy you should be able to slip past them. But take the pencil just in case.”

The boy thought for a moment before saying, “Sorry Ma’am, I can't help you if that is what you want. I don’t have so much time to run to the top of that mountain and battle ogres. Good luck, though!”

“He doesn’t have much time?” snorted Mrs. Mud indignantly once the boy was gone. “What does a small boy like that need with time? Stupid child. I’m an old woman, I have far much less time than he.”

As she waited for help, a horse in the field next to the road found one of the apples and ate it. “Oh my God!” stammered the old woman in disbelief. “This is absolute madness. It’s an outrage!” A horse was stealing one of her apples right before her eyes, and in broad daylight!

Just then a little girl came along.

“Oh please, you must help a helpless old woman!” the old woman shouted frantically, grabbing the little girl by the shoulders and shaking her violently.

“Certainly,” the little girl said very politely.

“I need to put all my apples back into that basket, but that horse in the meadow has already eaten one, that wicked beast,” Mrs. Mud clamored with all the speed her breath could afford. Then she stopped suddenly and looked suspiciously at the little girl. “But why didn’t you come a few moments earlier? If only you had and picked up the apples then before the horse stole one, then I wouldn’t have this problem now! Are you always so late? Never mind, there’s no time to waste. Go into that field and kill that greedy horse, my apple should be inside his belly, then go to the top of that mountain and fetch my old man so he can come and pick up the rest of my apples. Oh, and there are some ogres to kill along the way.”

The little girl thought for a moment, then said, “I can't do all that, because I am just a little girl,” the little girl said proudly. “But good luck, anyway!”

“What? Well what a horrible and lazy child. Is everyone in this part of the world so nasty and lazy?” Mrs. Mud shrieked, flinging her hands towards Heaven; a thick foam was brewing at the bottom of her throat.

After some time Mrs. Mud’s dilemma was in all the newspapers, inducing some robbers to come and snatch up the remaining apples. Mrs. Mud shrieked and stamped, clenching her fists and biting her teeth. She even for a moment threatened to kill herself, but the robbers took no notice, as they had become quite proficient at ignoring their victims.

After the robbers had made off with all of Mrs. Mud’s apples, Mrs. Mud was no longer as pleasant as she usually is on a Sunday afternoon. She was kicking and screaming, twisting and turning like an itchy dog in the middle of the road, foaming at the mouth, cursing everything within ten meters until by chance a priest strolled up to her. “My child, what calls for such madness?” he asked.

“Oh my God!” she gasped, “Oh my God! What a cruel and merciless world! Oh please, oh please, help a helpless old woman!” the woman begged, crawling on her knees in despair, groping the priest, her hair ruffled up like tumbleweed, her whole body trembling from the injustice she was suffering on this most horrible of days, tears streaming down her eyes in torrents.

“Yes,” the noble priest answered calmly. “What is it my child?”

“I need to put my apples in my basket,” the old woman wailed as she began to sway, as if ready to fall into a swoon.

The priest looked about but he could see no apples. “I see no apples, my child.”

“That’s because they’ve all been stolen, you idiot!” she screamed at the priest. “You are a priest, aren’t you? I can tell by your uniform. That means you have special powers, don’t you? You could chase after the robbers, couldn’t you? You can beat them, thrash them and throw them into hell, can’t you? And then you could kill that nasty horse who had the audacity to eat one. I swear! You should be able to find the apple in his vile belly. Then, could you be a nice man and rush to my old man on the top of that mountain so he can come and carry me home? Or maybe you could carry me home yourself? Or maybe you could just go back in time and warn me about that nasty stone there so I wouldn’t trip? If you are a real priest, you should be able to do that, shouldn’t you? If not, then what’s the point of being a priest? Oh, and there is a nasty little boy and a lazy little girl not so far away who refused to help a helpless old woman. They could use a good thrashing too. You must help me, I am begging you!” she shrilled to the heavens.

The priest thought for a moment. Mrs. Mud was grappling his jacket and shirt and it took all the man’s strength to get free of her grasp.

“I can't possibly do all that you ask, my child, but I’ll tell you what; I’ll pray for your fledgling soul.” And then the priest continued on his journey, understandably shaken by the experience of making Mrs. Mud’s acquaintance.

“Humph! A lot of good that will do me in getting my apples back,” she yelled after the priest. “How nasty people are! How evil! I’m never coming back to this part of the world ever again. This is the worst day of my entire life,” screamed Mrs. Mud, her voice filling the air for miles and with such force that the vibrations are still at this very moment traveling out into deep space.

It was then her husband heard his loving wife’s agonizing cries and without a moment’s delay rushed down their mountain in a flash, massacring the half-eaten and drunken ogres in the blink of an eye. He whisked his beautiful wife into his arms and carried her all the way back home, kissing her anger-swollen face with every step. Afterwards, Mr. Mud was half inclined to go back down the mountain to that nasty part of the world and exact total revenge on all those who hurt his wife so cruelly, but dared not leave her side.

It took weeks for Mrs. Mud to recover from the unjust and vicious treatment of the cruel world below, with enough to complain about for at least another eight lifetimes.

Copyright © Troy Morash 2003. Title graphic: "Apples" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2003.