The Rose Apple Tree

by Patricia Whittle

I do not like rose apples. Neither do I like lizards. I always hate lizards, but I used to love rose apples. Not anymore though.

Not far from our house is a lonely gully. This gully has a lot of fruit trees that we cannot resist. There are oranges, tangerines, jack fruit, mammees, pears and star apples. Whenever we get a chance we go to pick fruits in the gully, although Mama warns us not to go there by ourselves.

“That gully is a world to itself,” she tells us. “If anything happen to unnu down there, not a soul will hear yu.”

Mama’s warnings always fall on deaf ears. Deloris, my older sister, Babsy, the younger and I always sneak off to pick fruits in the gully

To reach the gully, we climb a steep hill behind our house. Once we reach the top, we can look down into the gully. It is a wide expanse of land, and unlike most gullies the large area of land is flat. Sometimes my brother, Bull, leaves the cows over there to eat the grass.

Today, Babsy and I sneak away to pick rose apple in the gully. The rose apple tree is way up in the far corner of the gully. It is late in the evening when we reach the rose apple tree.

I start to climb the tree, but jump down when I encounter some rotting leaves in the trunk of the tree. I must state here that we are both afraid of lizards.

“What happen?” Babsy asks, alarmed.

“Nothing man,” I say “You want to climb the tree?”

“All right,” she agrees as she scampers up the apple tree like a pretty little monkey.

“When a throw down the apples, meck sure you catch them. Don’t let them burst.”

“No man,” I assure her. “Not even one gwine burst today.”

Whenever we pick fruits, one of us climbs and the other catches the fruits when they are thrown down.

Babsy picks some luscious apples and I successfully catch them and put them in a heap. I am busily catching and heaping up the apples when I hear the deafening scream. I freeze in fear. To my horror, the scream is coming from up in the tree.

I look up to see Babsy on the verge of jumping from the tree. “Lizard!” she keeps screaming . “One big ole hellover green lizard! Betty what mi gwine do?”

“Go to another limb quick!” I advise, as I wait with baited breath for her to comply.

Suddenly another scream rents the air. “Lizard! Another Lizard Back mi up!
“Lizard! Another lizard back mi up!”

I don’t know what to do. She can’t come down without encountering the other lizard. She is wedged between two of them. She is hysterical now.

“Betty a gwine jump! Catch mi like how yu catch star apple! Catch mi like how yu catch star apple! Ketch mi like how yu catch star apple! Ketch mi….

“Lord have mercy. What mi gwine do? Suppose she jump. She shouting so loud, a can’t get her to listen.”

Now whenever Babsy and I go to pick star apple, she would climb and I stay on the ground and catch the purple apples. Sometimes I fail to catch some but if they hit my hand before falling to the ground they don’t burst.

Babsy remembers this.

“Catch mi like how yu catch star apple!” She screams. Catch mi like how yu catch starapple!”

“But Babsy, yu too big. A can’t catch yu! If yu jump yu going to burst and die and Papa gwine kill mi!”

“Betty, memba when yu catching starapple, if them drop when a throw them down, they mash up. But when them bounce pon y u han, even if them drop, them don’t burst. So catch mi like how yu catch starapple!

Oh God! It getting dark. Nobody around to help. What a gwine do?

“Babsy don’t jump! Don’t jump. A coming for yu!

I start to climb the tree. I hear a crashing sound. I hear limbs breaking. Lord have mercy.

I jump down quickly.

Babsy has jumped from the rose apple tree. She has jumped into a smaller tree nearby. Thank God she is safe. I run to the tree. I help her down. She is all scratched up, but she is safe. Thank God. I love my little sister. The thought of losing her makes me realize how much. She is gathering up the rose apples. I feel like throwing them away. They are no longer enticing.

"Come Babsy, come wi go home."


About the Author...

Patricia Whittle is Jamaican. She writes plays, poems and stories. She is a teacher of English Literature and a librarian. She is the author of the poetry book, Mi Waan Fi Publish A Book, and a book of plays titled Johnny, Mass Tom and the Fatal Error.

About the Illustrator...

Samantha Dupigny is six years old and from Barbados. She was a recent attendee of the ArtSplash Barbados art camp where she learned about pen and ink drawing and other media. She enjoys dress up, going to the beach and art and has won trophies and medals for gymnastics and swimming. Samantha attends St. Winnifred's School.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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