by Brian Burmeister

We had just sat down for lunch when James got waved over to another table. His girlfriend broke up with him over the weekend, and he was going over there to talk to her. But that’s really just window dressing. What’s important: a minute later, Harper sat down and noticed the abandoned tray.

“Whose?” he asked.

We nodded in James’s direction.

“Jesus,” said Harper. “Already?”

After that we talked and goofed around like always. Then Harper reached past Doug and took an apple from the lonely tray.

He stole a huge, loud, obnoxious bite. Put the apple back.

Lunch was practically over when James returned. He noticed the apple right away. It was brown and disgusting by then.

“Who ate it?”

He stared each of us down. No one broke. You could tell James was still mad, but no one said a word. After the painful silence, James let out a disheartened sigh and sat down. He picked up his fork. It was over.


“Goddam you, Harper.” This was Doug.

In that instant, James smashed the apple upside Harper’s head. Harper unleashed a string of profanities as he flung himself back at James. Eight years must have passed before some teachers came over. One took a fist in the eye. James and Harper were each suspended for two weeks.

During their vacation, Harper knifed one of the tires on James’s bike. Three months later, James responded by screwing Harper’s sister.

It wasn’t until after college that they were friends again.

All this. Over an apple.

Brian Burmeister is Program Chair of English and Communication at Ashford Univeristy. He co-wrote the nonfiction play “Farmscape: The Changing Rural Environment,” published by Ice Cube Press, and his writing has appeared in such publications as 50-Word Stories and Eunoia Review. He can be followed @bdburmeister.