Every once in a while, a featured author on Imagine Magazine brings us a work that asks the question that is the catalyst in the birth of a new story. The question that many authors and ‘would be’ authors ask, that makes us all realize we had the same question. The question that all on it’s own, gets a seasoned author excited, an amateur author anxious, and a would be author nervous about taking that first step. What’s the question you ask?

“What if…?”

The very first story I wrote and posted online for everyone to read, scratched a very old itch for me, made me question my own ability to tell a story that other people would even want to read, and really became something that I would end up being surprisingly proud of. To explain how it came about, we’d need to explain the question itself and why any author would be asking it. At the end of this explanation, You’ll be able to read a featured story right here on Imagine Magazine that asks that very same question. With that said…

This issue focuses on an author who we already know really well here at imagine Magazine. “Black Paper”, the artist formerly known as “Julian Taylor” <giggle> who is the author of “Kiss or Miss” which has been prominently featured over on the Gay Author’s Community and on The Story Lover’s Home, has taken that first step and is once again putting his literary gears in overdrive. You see when an idea forces itself to be recognized, it can quite literally become an obsession that demands the potential author to ask their “What if…?” question. Black Paper’s newest story very much fits that bill:

“What if a character who seems happy with his simple and familiar surroundings, is thrust into an overwhelmingly alien situation?”

The overall idea is one that has been looked at in the past. In a conversation with Black Paper, we both remembered a very polarized example of this situation in a movie that many people will remember. “Jungle 2 Jungle“, a fun story featuring a 13 year-old Sam Huntington as a boy named Mimi-Siku, a character who grew up in a semi-Westernised tribe in Venezuela. When his biological father (played by Tim Allen) needs his ex-wife to sign divorce papers so he can remarry, he travels from New York and is introduced to a son he didn’t know existed. The charm of this movie is in the way the father, in an attempt to bond with his son, brings him to the big city for the first time, which may as well be another planet from Mimi-Siku’s point of view. But this story is actually a remake of another movie from 1994 entitled “Un Indien Dans La Ville (Little Indian, Big City)” which is the same basic story but based in France. Featuring another 13 year-old actor named Ludwig Briand as Mimi-Siku. Both of these movies ask a similar “What if…?” question to Black Paper’s tale entitled “Rotten Apples” which is a story focusing on the adventure 13 year-old (I’m beginning to see a pattern here, LOL!) William-Decker Irving, who is a country boy who was happy, free, innocent, and the son & heir to his family’s successful Apple Orchard business. Country life is all he had ever known until he is forced to move, up North, into a busy suburban town & attend public school for the very first time (having been homeschooled with little to no social skills or knowledge of the modern world at all). We get to watch as he learns to cope with all these new surroundings and people and even though he is severely out of his element, he begins to form bonds with some of the new people in his new found life that will become life long connections. Home truly is where your heart is and this story promises to deliver a ride that much like these two movies before it, will show struggles that so many others just wouldn’t understand but we all can learn to appreciate.

So, what would be your “What if…?” Story? Have you written it already or are you just considering the possibilities? Give it a shot and let us know about it at submissions@imagine-magazine.org and maybe we can feature it right here with a “What if…?” Featuring your work. I learned a lot from my own experiences writing, even more from hearing how reading these stories impact those who read them. Believe me, that makes it worth every letter typed!

With that said, I’d like to introduce you all to a brand new story by “Black Paper”, born from a real “What if…?” question, titled “Rotten Apples”. We’ll bring updates to this story as they are written to Imagine Magazine and as always, please let Black Paper know what you think of his work. A couple of kind words are often the icing on the cake to an online author 🙂 Enjoy!

Rotten Apples

By Black Paper aka. Julian Taylor

Chapter 1 – Fallen Apples

My love for Country Life and the lesson of the Poison Apple eaten by Snow White that is pretty on the outside but unpleasant & venomous on the inside are the ultimate inspirations for this story. Everything that I have written here has a meaning, purpose, a moral, and a lesson. May this story & the life of Billy-Decker inspire all who read it to be sweet & never rotten. If you are good to others, good will come to you.🍎🌙

The name’s William, William-Decker. But, my momma calls me Billy. Growin’ up, out in the opened country, I wasn’t exactly your average boy; I was far from it, to say the very least. I had never actually been to a big city or a busy town in all my life. I sort of knew what they were like from movies that I saw here and there, sometimes, at the county drive-in theatre when we would make it a trip to go in mid-summer before July 4th, but, I had no idea or real clue what they were really like. I thought it’d be real neat to visit one, one day. But, I never did until the Summer of 2020.

My family owned an Apple Orchard, a giant one, in fact; that’s how we made our livelihood; it was what we did. It was what we were known for; it was who we were. It was smack in the middle of the many fields and vast open farmland of Ellijay, Georgia in between the many grassy hills & valleys which barricaded our homeland. My daddy worked extremely hard to keep the family business intact & growing as far out into the state as he could possibly get it to grow. Our orchard was a family heirloom & had been in our family for 100 years. But, 3 years ago, my papa had a great opportunity, to begin selling our Orchard’s Apple Cider and specially crafted Apple Butters, which we had always sold within our county, on a much larger scale than what we ever had hoped or dreamed to achieve before. He decided to formally rename our family’s apple orchard and give it a logo with stickers that branded anything that we made & placed it onto each vessel, jar, and sealed container of our business. The brand name was Forbidden Fruit, after the story of Adam & Eve, with a beautiful sketch of a floating red Apple in the middle of vast green fields & animated sparkles surrounding the fruit that had one bite in it; the brand name represented our entire family, our orchard, all of our products, & anything & everything that we created.

My daddy was always a very down to Earth, spiritual, humble, & sweet man. That’s why it was an honor for him to have that as his family’s Crest to represent us. Our business became extremely popular where we’re from. Before we knew it, we were selling vast amounts of products to our many customers who loved and purchased them. My daddy took the advice of some business advisors that he had many meetings with & kept using our earnings to buy more & more automatic equipment that helped us produce the products in a more efficient manor & in greater amounts. He recruited & hired more field workers in order to assist us with the overall maintenance, cultivation, & the production of our Orchard’s fields & goods. He made numerous amounts of deals with many businesses to have our family’s goods sold & shipped to all of the many stores and local farmer’s markets in the area & far out into the outskirts of our state. I’ve never been to any of those places, except only a few, but, he was extremely proud to have his products sold there & made it a point to consistently stress to us how we should all be very thankful every single living day for all that we had & what was given to us.

We won two special awards over the last 4 years for the best selling and growing family farm goods business of our region. He and my momma were not only extremely proud of this accomplishment, but, took the overall responsibility of the business very seriously. Everything was done with purpose, finesse, and persistence to ensure the best quality possible was always achieved by us for anything & everything that we did. I was extremely proud of my papa for all that he did and for blooming his business as fast as he did from merely almost nothing to start off with when it came to marketing; he taught me everything that he knew & gave me large lessons in his study back at our old large wooden home about the family’s finances, the business, and everything that he felt that I needed to know. His reasoning for this, was that I would eventually become the sole owner of our business, the caretaker of the orchard, and the overseer of all that he had created when I took charge when he and my momma would pass away. As the oldest, I always made it a point to show him that I was willing to work as hard as I possibly could to make him and my family proud.

Our orchard meant everything to us. It was a staple in our lives and also in much of our everyday cooking. We used mainly the best apples that we had cultivated only for the products that we sold, and for the visitors who paid for Apple picking to pick inside of our lands. My daddy’s reason for this was that only the best should be used for his customers & that is how you create a worthy reputation for yourself, a good name for your business, & establish overall trust from your customers and business colleagues; we only ever took average or less than average pickings for us to save and get creative with through, cooking, baking, and culinary creativity. I always loved to help my momma cook and bake whenever I could and learned many of her recipes and even made a few of my own. I helped my papa with everyday chores, orchard maintenance, business numbers, and even the simplest of things like fixing a pair of his shoes for him when he needed them maintained as a loving gesture from son to father.

Our personal lives, by some, would be considered a dated life. We were a bit far behind in our own possessions and daily activities by a few decades. But, to us and me especially, it didn’t matter, whatsoever. I had a simple life. I had everything that I ever could have possibly wanted because I saw no real reason to want anything else. I had nothing to compare myself to. I had a light weight load when it came to what was on my mind and what I was mentally preoccupied with. I didn’t know or care about artificial things, titles, social statuses, or media. None of the matters concerned me in the slightest because it wouldn’t have made me better or happier to have known about things that I wasn’t around, anyway. I was happy with the little things. They were special to me and made me smile. Some of the simplest things had a certain magic that money just simply can’t buy. I guess you could say, my life was like the orchard breeze; it went where it went and didn’t ask why or where. And, I liked that. That’s what I was used to. That’s all I knew. That’s who I was. I was innocent.

If I ever peered into the longview mirror of my old & simple bedroom door, I saw looking back at me, an average looking 13 year old, chocolate brown haired boy with semi-tanned skin from constantly being outside in the sun with a set of grey eyes. I was pretty lanky in build with not much meat on my bones, but, I had a fairly defined abdomen & mid-section due to the hard work, labor, & excessive running that I was so accustomed to doing throughout my daily life. I did not care much about looks, but, on special occasions, I would apply some hair ointment into my hair and use a comb to slick my longer strands of hair in the front all to one side and partially over my face to keep it looking clean, in its place, & presentable. My momma would always say that I looked like her mini sharp “business man” and absolutely loved whenever I put it that way. Other than that, my dark locks were free to do whatever they wanted, especially, the long strands in the front that sometimes hid an eye or two of mine from the lack of a routine haircut here & there, not like it mattered to me or anything; it wasn’t like I cared. Why would I? Who was around for me to impress?

I was a simple boy; a “good boy”, a sweet boy, my family would say. I never really asked for much or expected anyone to go out of their way for me unless I absolutely needed their help. I was my little brother’s caretaker when my momma was busy or needed me. Anytime he was sick, I would help nurse him back to health. Whenever he needed help taking a bath, I was always there to care for his needs. When he got hurt, I comforted him, bandaged him, and made sure he stayed safe during his healing process. He was the little cherubim of the house with a blonde mop of hair that shagged gracefully down over his forehead and whisped wildly in the wind and glowed, brightly, as the sunlight cascaded all around him whenever he played outside or was with me. It almost looked like he moved in slow motion from how innocent he looked, sometimes. Being only 7, I was his guide to the world, second to my parents, especially in his own eyes.

I was free. I was happy. And, all that I was preoccupied with was what was around me at the time. I had no leash around my neck. I was tamed & wild all at the same time. Our orchard was pretty, beautiful, quiet, & peaceful. The sun would shine its light on our apples and the bright colored green leaves of our trees as the wind would swiftly blow through their branches, making the whole green field appear to be a vast green land of glistening rain, light, and magic dust. The fields were so clean. The air was so crisp. My nan would say, “There’s a mysterious magic in these woods.” The area was so pure, that you could close your eyes as you inhaled deeply and actually taste all the many apples that surrounded you from the breeze that whisped into your very own lungs.

Many times, when my homeschooling with my momma was up for the day, I’d play in the field of trees with my Collie, Spartacus in nothing but a pair of high jean shorts and my bare feet and chase him around, taking turns, when he would chase me. He was my best friend. We got him years ago to watch over our land and make sure no pesky rabbits and animals would eat our fruit, hurt the trees, or damage the orchard in any manor. There was one animal, though, that we all taught him to be friendly with and never to chase away. It was a black kitty who I named Mee-mee. She would always wander around our house and eventually grew to know me. We didn’t know where she came from or why she was always there. My mother said it was a sign. But, when I looked her into her big green eyes, I felt, somewhat, hypnotized and I, somehow, knew that she had gotten lost and was separated from her family and needed me; I didn’t know how I knew that, but, I did. I took care of her whenever she came by and fed her treats and meals whenever she got hungry. She would rub her little furry body on my leg or ankle as I was standing and that was her way of telling me that she wanted something. She became my little friend that I would always give hugs and cuddles to whenever I needed some love or I felt she needed some. She was just so cute to me and was my version of a real life stuffed animal. My momma wouldn’t allow her in the house, though, as she said that she would damage all of our furniture and cause God only knows what other types of ruckus inside.

One day, my papa had an idea. We had all been working so hard to keep the orchard’s fields blossoming, blooming, & fertile over the last few years and made major accomplishments in doing so; because of all of our well earned success, my papa decided that we should celebrate and go on our very first family vacation together with nobody left behind just outside the outskirts of the state in a lake house that we could rent; there, we could swim in the lake, fish, canoe, camp, BBQ, and whatever else we wanted as it was away from any village for miles and was very peaceful & quiet. He never did this before as he always took a sharp & watchful eye in forseeing our property and fields. He also said that next year, he would take us all on a trip in a plane which was the most exciting thing that I had ever heard him promise me. It was exciting and also scary for me, as I had never been on a plane before in all my life. I had never even seen an airport before or been to those types of places; the entire idea seemed so surreal, unreal, & like a foreign and forbidden dream to me. For this trip. however, he granted a hand full of his men to take turns checking in on the orchard every 3 days to ensure it was well kept, safe, and uninhabited by trespassers, both wild & human alike.

Just outside the outskirts of our land, there was a large uninhabited field that was deemed infertile by farmers due to pollution from the past and difficult soil to work with which was not worth the time or money to have fixed in many eyes. This also meant, that people would sometimes cause trouble in those outskirts as that land was legally owned by no one. Some repeated offenders were a group of teenagers that liked to light fireworks and shoot them off as they drank, cheered, and played loud party music; this was something that they had been warned by my father, the sheriff, and many others to no longer do as it was illegal to shoot those fireworks in that location and was a disturbance to our family, our business, and many others’ property, nearby. This did not stop them from occasionally and sneakily visiting that area and repeating the offenses, however, which was a concern to my papa.

We made extra preparations in our orchard to ensure that it was healthy and thriving while we were away and made sure all of the trees were ready for the upcoming harvest and picking season, Autumn. Being that this was the most important time of the year for our business and we were going on vacation, we did most of the work ahead of time. We left for our vacation in mid August and by the time we got back, it was September 2nd. On our way back we were still thriving on the high of all of the fun that the four of us had on our trip, especially Shannon, who had never fished before and caught 3 large fish all on his own. But, all of our joy and smiles were cut in seconds the moment we drove up to our land. My father stopped the car immediately, my mother gasped a shriek that I will never forget for the rest of my life, and my throat tied itself into a knot.

An entire half of our house burnt away. And, that was only the preview of the nightmare of horror that was behind it. Running out of the car, my father, mother, and I ran to the back and stopped in our tracks at the sight. To my right, I saw my mother gasp and cover her mouth with her right hand as tears burned through her eyes, but, wouldn’t come out. She violently shook in horror and gave a look that she would have given if she saw 100 people being burned alive and shrieking in terror and agony right before her very eyes. The look I saw from her was, to this day, the scariest thing that I had ever seen in all my life.

Looking at the vast lands that I used to love running and playing in with my dog and little brother in the sunlight that were once so full of color, light, life, & love, I now saw nothing but blackness & death. The entire land had changed into a vast wasteland of tree stumps, blackened branches that were broken and scattered all over the floor, ash, and suit. It looked as though Lucifer, himself, and all of his demons flew over our lands in the middle of the night and cursed our land with a black kiss of death, sucking away all of the life that it once had. It smelled like Mother Nature, herself, had a cavity and was breathing her rotten breath right into my nose and mouth from the stench of all of the rotting apples which were scattered all over the field. I plugged my nose with my shirt and lifted it so I couldn’t breath in the smell as much from how bad and toxic it’s odor reeked. As I took one extra step, I looked down at my foot noticing the rotten apple that I had accidentally just stepped on through my shoes as it’s insides squirted and bursted its brown & black flesh all over the ground around my toe; the pesky flies that had been feasting on its once fresh flesh whisped and scattered themselves from the sudden movement and some of them went directly to my face as I whisked my hand to try and keep them away from my eyes which they kept pecking on. I looked up at the tragedy seeing my father stare into nothing on the horizon of the land. I felt nothing at that moment. I was not sad, angry, or scared; just like the orchard, and those apples on the floor, I was dead on the inside. I felt nothing. I was hollow. I couldn’t breathe. And, every time I breathed I felt like someone else was in my body doing all of my own breathing for me without my permission, invading my privacy, and I wasn’t even there.

Those same teenagers just so happened to set their fireworks off in that same field while we were gone in between the days where daddy’s caretakers he had hired of our orchard were check in and make sure everything was okay, safe, and tuning smoothly. A terrible accident occurred when they were, apparently, too drunk to realize that they had lit a firework to close to all of the other ones that they had, resulting in a giant explosion, setting off a bunch in scattered directions and killing three of them in the process. According to the sheriff, he estimated a good two to four fireworks aimed directly at our trees. It had not rained for weeks in our town, and this resulted in a massive fire that little to nobody saw until later that morning, being that it was dark and our home was so embedded deep inside of the fields of the state, isolated from society. My daddy did not bring his cellphone with him on our trip so as not to be disturbed, so he could not be told about the incident, despite, how many times he had been contacted. With only 20 good trees left, we had no choice anymore. We had to leave.

My nan took us in, for those few weeks as my daddy tried to find a new orchard to buy as close as possible with all of the insurance money that he had been granted for our loss. All that he had built, all that we had tried our hardest to achieve, all that our family owned for 100 years and was known for, was all rotten & forgotten. My daddy could have gotten into a depression, he could have gotten angry, he could have hated the accident, but, instead he paid those three young men his respects as we all went to the funeral service for all of them and gave their families his condolences. My parents worked around the clock to locate a new spot for us to live as Autumn was near by. And, finally, they found one all the way up North in Morristown, New Jersey.

Not only did my daddy have to buy a new orchard that was miles away from our home, limiting our daily access to it’s grounds, especially, my momma, Shannon, and I, but it was only 2/3 as large as our old one, something that was financially a problem for our business given the circumstances that we were already facing with how to continue what we could and restart, from scratch, what we could not.

Without my Nan’s southern loving hospitality, kind hearted sense of humor to cut the fat of all of the negative tension, wonderfully delicious house cooking, and calming sense of reassurance, there was no way we would have ever been able to mentally and emotionally survive that time period as we tried to overcome the tragedy that currently plagued my family. She watched over us and was the backbone to our family in every single way. Even though my mommy and daddy were adults, they weren’t; they were just big kids. SHE was the grownup that shielded us with her giant pearl colored wings as the guardian angel that protected and guided us all.

“Don’t, you worry none, you lil’ trouble maker.” my nan said to me as she pinched my cheek and gave me the largest smile as we were packing up the car to leave. “Imma be right here when y’all get baaack, you visit this coming winter, and we’re gonna have the greatest and best Christmas we ain’t ever had before.” And giggled as she hugged me. I couldn’t help it; my eyes watered a bit as I finally told her about my little friend.

“N-Naan, please.” I said in a shaky voice.

“What is it? Why yu’ crying for? What’s wrong?” She said concerned.

“The cat… you have to find mah friend. Please.” I said to her.

“What cat? What yu talkin’ about?” She said utterly confused.

“I have a friend whose mah lil’ kitty at the orchard. I don’t know where she’s at and we’ll be gone. She’s lookin’ for me. Please, find her. Please! You have to take her here and save her. She’ll be scared and she prolly’ hungry.” I said more worried about the little cat than I even was about our own new orchard. I couldn’t explain it, but, there was something about that cat that meant something. It was like a sign. She was my friend. She needed me. I loved her.

“Don’t you worry none. I promise imma take perfect care of Spartacus while you gone and me and him are gonna go with your uncle Jeffery and we gonna find your lil friend. Ya here? Imma find her, Billy Irving. Imma find her if it near kills me.” She said holding onto my shoulders to reassure me. She was the only person that would have ever I trusted to take care of my dog. Sparty couldn’t come with us. It’d be cruel to cramp him in such a small area, and since he grew up in farmland, it’d be dangerous to have a collie in the city or a busy town, for him and possibly others. I knew I shouldn’t do that to him. I wouldn’t do that to him. I couldn’t do that to him. So, I did the hardest thing a person could do for someone when you love them, I let him go.

“O-okay.” I said to her. “Thank you.” I gave her one last goodbye before Spartacus ran up to me and I kissed his forehead goodbye. He licked my lips with a kiss and I wasn’t sure if that was him telling me he loved me, too, But, in my mind, it was. We finally finished packing everything & eventually drove off into the horizon as I saw my nan waving at our car from behind as my brother and I waved back at her through the rear view window. There was no turning back at that point. I was heading into a large world that I would be visiting for the very first time.

Contact Me:
Latest posts by Black Paper (see all)
    A quick "Vote Up" gives the author a smile!
    You already voted!