Apple Slices

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"Hey...
Hey, Matty -
are you even
listening to me?"

Natalia's hand
waving in front of my face
suddenly brings me back
to my senses.
I must have zoned out
somewhere between Mr. Barnes
explaining today's cooking lab
and our exodus to
Mrs. Harrows' room.
Now, my partner is
standing with her hands
on her hips, staring
at me with an intensity
that nearly makes me
back up a few steps.

"S-sorry,"
I stammer, trying
my very hardest
to keep my cheeks
from flushing with embarrassment.
"I didn't get a lot
of sleep last night, and
I haven't really been
focusing very well today..."

Immediately,
her expression softens,
which does something to relieve
the uncomfortable pressure
in my chest.
"It's alright,"
she sighs, shooting me
a rueful grin.
"I was just worried -
you started cutting up
the apples,
and then stopped
out of the blue."

It's true.
I'd been lost in thought
over what had happened
at the park yesterday,
how my thoughts
just would not turn away
from Natalia.
And then I realized
that thinking about that
was only compounding the problem,
so I'd tried to
lose myself in my work.
I guess that had failed
in the end, too, because
I'd only lapsed right back
into thought
once I'd found
a steady rhythm of chopping.

"Sorry to
worry you,"
I mumble,
picking my knife back up
and beginning to slice again.
Knife work had always been
one of my favorite things
about cooking, so
when we'd split up
tasks earlier, I had
immediately volunteered to
slice the apples.
Natalia is now rolling out
the pie crust -
I must have been
lost in thought for
longer than I'd thought, because
there's still a lot more
for me to cut up, and
I still have to make
the filling, besides.

This time, my cheeks
set themselves on fire,
regardless of my efforts to
keep them cool.

We're silent for a while after,
each working on our
appointed task.
A while later,
after she's pressed her crust
into the pie pan,
Natalia crosses to
my counter and starts
mixing up the filling,
adding in the apple slices
as I finish with them.

"You're pretty good
with that knife,"
she tells me after a
few minutes,
catching me off guard.
"Do you bake much
at home?"

"Y-yeah."
I do my best
to keep both
the knife in my hand
and my voice steady
in the face of her
close proximity.
Easier said than done,
I guess,
because the latter still sounds
rather feeble to my ears.
"My mom taught me
how to cook starting
when I was really little.
Like, three,
I think.
She always said that
your cuts have to be
really precise
if you want your recipe
to turn out right."

"Well,
she's not wrong.
I'm sure this will
turn out great."
She flashes a
slow smile my way,
and inexplicably,
my heart seems to stop
in my chest.

And that's when everything
starts going wrong.

As she's been doing
this entire time, she
reaches past me to
scoop up the apple slices
I'd just finished with -
but maybe my lack
of a heartbeat
has made me a bit
more jumpy than usual,
because as her fingers
barely skim mine,
the hand in which
I'm holding the knife
jerks back
and away from her.

Her response is
somewhat delayed.
"Matty?"
she says in surprise
and growing horror.
"Oh my god, you -
are you okay?
Your hand..."

My hand?
I blink at her for a moment,
unable to figure out
what's freaked her out
all of a sudden,
before glancing down
at the cutting board.
Bad idea.
I hadn't even felt
the knife touch me,
but sure enough, there is
a red spot
slowly growing on the
side of my hand.

Oh.

I try to tell her
that I'm fine,
it doesn't even hurt,
it's just a scratch -
but all of a sudden,
my legs give out from
underneath me,
black swirling to cover
my vision
before I can protest.
I've never been very good
around blood, and I guess
now is no different.

I barely hear Natalia's voice
calling my name
before the darkness
overtakes me
completely.

×

Yes, I know this isn't written as well as I normally write these things, but oh well. I have no idea why I threw this in here but whatever, Matty's a clutz around Nat. That's nice. So have a shitty cliffhanger for all I care, lmao.

If you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if you would vote and leave me some feedback! It would be very much appreciated!

(Also, a bit of self-promo - the voting period for target's Once Upon Now contest is going in right now, and I'd really love if you guys would vote on my story, My Jorinda, so I can have a shot at winning! It would mean a ton to me. All you have to do is go to the story (first one listed on my profile) and vote on it like you would with any story. I'll love you forever if you help me out with this <3)

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