Precious Mtaka studied the apple, unsure what to do. The shiny red skin said ‘bite me’ but she’d been tricked too often to trust the giver. Hunger won, finally, and juice dribbled down her chin as the sweet hit made her head swirl. The apple came from a large square metal box, dumped on the dockside soon after Mtaka had been led from the ship. She had spent so much of her life, it seemed, trapped in boxes: in the back of the dusty truck, bumping across mustard-coloured scrub; crushed in the trunk of the smuggler’s taxi, scared witless as they crossed the border; freezing for hours in the empty cart on the back of the train; and then in the hold of the ship. Assaulted, bruised, starving yet driven by a tiny inextinguishable hope of a future better than the present. Now, she sat peering like a goldfish through a tiny crossed wired window in the back of a police van at a strange land, apparently full riotous colours as the leaves gave in to one last gaudy autumn show. At last she smiled. Human hope still springs even as the land begins to hibernate.
Esther Newton’s Monday motivation challenge is to write a story on the theme of autumn including the words: red, goldfish and mustard.