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One Apple This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I watched his huge brown eyes jump hungrily to the food in my hands and it impaired my soul to watch him try so hard to ask politely for the feeble selection, his mind nor him stomach able to form questions while so focused on meekly surviving. He spoke in a diminutive, tortured voice but in a beautiful, unfamiliar language. My moderator quickly deciphered the alien tongue; the cadaverous little boy wanted the apple I held in my hands. I looked at him unsure; his frail body looked powerless against the apple. Of course, of course, I wanted to help him, even if it meant my complete demise, and it pained me that I must ponder if he were strong enough just to bite through the delicate skin. Within a moments decision I chose to flick out the knife I held in the pocket of my black robe. The boy’s impossible eyes grew even bigger and he flinched back like an abused, frightened animal. A single thought came into my mind; he thinks I’m going to kill him. If only the nameless little boy had just known how much it had killed me to watch his reaction; His wasted hands curled into his body in an unnatural looking position and his filthy feet floundered backwards stirring up the arid dirt. But his face, oh his face. His dark eyebrows bent together creating a terrified line between his eyes, his sunken cheeks inflated aberrantly as if he were trying to prolong what he believed to be his last breath. His lower lip began to shake and after a fraction of a second what remained of his wasted limbs joined in synchronization. The blood stuttered through my heart in one painful squeeze as I watched the starved boy. I shared a look with my moderator who easily conveyed to the boy that I wouldn’t hurt him. The boy took two feeble steps hesitantly forward in my direction and I gave him a reassuring single nod with steady eyes. I very slowly began to cut the apple in slices, alternating my glances between the boy and the knife in my hand, afraid that he would leave, still not trusting me. After I had finished carefully slicing the apple in my hand I tentatively offered him each individual piece, he timidly filled the space between my hand and his but hovered over the apple, as if unsure someone would so willingly give up food. I once again nodded to him, terrified that if I spoke too loud it would scare him off. At first he was shyly snatching up pieces in my hand but began to eagerly take them hungrily. The contrast between our hands was sickening; next to his skeletal fingers, sallow palms, and bony arms were what looked like plump, strong hands and thick forearms. It made me want to spit with anger, it made my blood boil but had nothing to do with the African sun and I was trembling with rage. After what seemed like seconds the apples in my palm had diminished and the boy was staring at me with thanks in his eyes. He mumbled what was obviously a word of gratitude and then remained quiet. I kneeled next to him and cautiously reached for his withered hand. I took his in mine, barely touching for I was afraid I was underestimating how truly breakable he was. His dark skin felt warm, cracked and damaged, much like my heart at the sight of it, but in the few moments I held his hand his eyes grew brighter and his smile became more prominent. I then realized I was making a difference in his life by showing him kindness and love, by being caring and compassionate. I then suddenly remembered researching for a sermon I gave months ago, the one where I proposed a mission trip to Africa. The words on the computer screen had stood out to me like blood against pale skin, Statistics show that one third of the world is well fed, one third is underfed, and one third is starving. And right here in front of me is the face of those revolting figures. Generally speaking, everyone has heard and most-likely used the term “starving to death.” But this little boy has experienced firsthand what it feels like to go to bed with a stomach too exhausted to be hungry and a mind too innocent to want to comprehend what is happening around him. Famine, death, sorrow. I could tell the boy was no stranger to these three things. But yet, he continues to live and love with all he has left. His emaciated hands cling to the life he dreads to awake to, but still yearn for a change in his existence that is rewarding and loving. As for myself? I’m just a straightforward man, surviving on a modest salary, providing for my family. But every Sunday I become something bigger than me, bigger than those worshiping in my humble church, bigger than life itself. It was then that my epiphany hit me, no matter how many pounds of food we send, no matter how many lives we save from starvation, no matter. We have already abandoned them in their greatest time of distress, have already overlooked their pain and deprivation. Nothing can erase the memory of a woman lying on her deathbed, and no one can obliterate the recollection of the feeling of hunger in a child’s stomach. It’s too late. Yes, of course we can save those left, we need to save those left, but no one will ever forget. Nor should they, if we forget history will repeat itself. And I will never want to relive the child’s pain I saw that fateful day in Africa as I watched his huge brown eyes jump hungrily to the food in my hands and it impaired my soul to watch him try so hard to ask politely for the feeble selection…




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