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(Author’s note: Whilst I try to snap my mind back into blog participation, I’m tossing up another snippet from chapter nineteen of my first novel.)

Within minutes, I’m out on a limb, and not at all a metaphorical one.  My foolish aerial work brings me within reach of apples further out on a branch above me.  The children declared those apples the best of all they saw in the orchard, necessitating severance from the mother tree.  Never say Aunt Tess refused a challenge from her favourite nephew and niece, so up the tree I scampered.  Glancing down, my up-looking reasons for in-tree picking wear their hope and anticipation, passive beacons of encouragement to my continued treewalking.  Their occasional cheers spur me into a long, risky stretch for the targeted pommes.

     “You can do it, Aunt Tess!”

     “Pwease, Aunt Tess.  Just a wittle more!  You have to get them!”  Yes, I can, maybe.  Those two serve as proof for why we aunts live on this Earth.

     Ready for the big pluck, my arm up-stretches and fingers reach for the desired fruit.  Someone selects this moment to call my mobile, right when my fingertips tickle the three apples.  The jangling sound startles and throws me into a balance-adjusting wobble, almost costing my branch hold.  The fool mobile persists and annoys.  Fed up and again confident in my stability, my apple picking hand retracts the incessant device.  Somehow, I manage to hold the phone to my ear.  “Tess’s tree top apple picking service.  No tree too high, no apple too far!  How high up in the tree are your apples?”

     “Is this Ms Eaton?” The caller speaks in a monotonic, serious, and unrecognised voice, uncaring about my newfound ability to help the ill equipped and faint of heart pick hard to get apples.

     “May I ask who calls?”  I turn around the inquiry without sharing my identity, shifting to the serious branch of budding conversation.  I’m perturbed the caller ignored my tree-bound humour.  No apples picked for him today.

     “Detective Martin of the Boston Police Department.”

     My balance upsets and I teeter on the branch, the mobile dropping away.  My freed hand reaches out as if an outrigger, trying to counter instability, to no avail.