We don’t go apple picking anymore. We used to go every year to pick a bushel or two, eat apple cider doughnuts, ride the pony, and drink the hot, mulled cider. We would go home replete in our scarlet treasures. That year was like every other. Me and The Boy were riding in the hay wagon, pointing at all the animals, while The Parents discussed dinner and whether we would make a pie or a cobbler this year. The tractor in the front chugged along over the grass, churning up ruts behind it. This was the best farm in the whole world, with every kind of apple ever. The air was chill, but it was still warm enough to only call for a light sweater. I pulled my cap down further over my ears and The Boy fidgeted with the basket. When the tractor finally stopped, we got out and surveyed the ground. It was nowhere like a precision maneuver. Picking apples is a well-run chaos and cacophony. I pulled an apple from the highest branch I could reach and stood there eating it slowly, letting the cold juice drip down my face even though I knew I would be sticky afterward. The Boy had one in each hand and a third in his mouth in his attempt to pick and eat at the same time. As with any other family attempting to pick apples with the intention of even some of them coming home with us, most of the picking was done by The Parents. Me and The Boy ran through the orchard, laughing with glee and the joy that only comes with apple picking on a crisp fall day. The ground was mostly mud and the sky growing cloudy, but we didn’t care in the slightest. The world was made of apples and cinnamon. Back into the hay wagon we went, two bushels full of sweet and glorious apples in hand. The Boy rode the pony around in circles while The Parents and I watched, sipping cider. We got a box of cider doughnuts and started back to the car just as the sky opened up. The timing was perfect, just like the rest of the day. The Boy had brought a game to play, I had a book. Down the highway we traveled, headed somewhere for dinner, just like always. We stopped at a little place, a burger shack sort of place. They did a really good cheeseburger, and curly fries. I love curly fries. Once again, we piled back into the car for the rest of the ride home. By this point, it was a full on thunderstorm and the sky was as black as night. The other cars whizzed by, just trails of light in the darkness. The only sound was the constant patter of rain on the car roof, periodically broken by the crash of thunder. It was then out of the dark ahead that the brightness came. There was nothing anyone could do as the shape barreled down on us and metal slammed into metal with an unearthly sound that truly shreds the soul. The apples were strewn around the highway, mixed among the metallic wreckage. Like I said, we don’t go apple picking anymore.