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(Authors note:  The shorter version of this, previous edit, I presented in on a limb.  I expanded outward what I shared there, rather than cut it off at the expletive.)

Within minutes, I went out on a limb, and not at all a metaphorical one.  Dangling apples higher in the tree lured me onto a mid-level branch, the foolish aerial work accomplished by way of steadied hands, a sliding ass, and failsafe legs ready to hug a branch bowing downward from my added weight.  The children declared the skyscraping apples the best in the orchard, and it necessitated their severance from the mother tree.

     Never say Aunt Tess refused a challenge from her favourite nephew and niece, so upward on the tree I scampered.  On my down glances, the up-looking reasons for in-tree picking wore their hope and anticipation, passive beacons of encouragement to my continued treewalking.  Their occasional cheers spurred 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 could, or so I thought.  The two served as proof for why we aunts lived on this Earth, and splattered upon it.

     Ready for the big pluck, my arm stretched and fingers reached for the desired fruit.  Someone rang my mobile, right when my fingertips tickled the three apples.  The four note iconic sequence from a popular 1960s television programme startled.  The ring threw me into a balance-adjusting teeter, and shifted my ass position on the branch.  It almost cost my branch hold.

     The fool mobile persisted and annoyed.  Fed up and confident in re-established stability, my apple picking hand retrieved the incessant device.  Somehow, I managed to hold the phone to an 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 spoke in a monotonic, serious, and familiar but not apparent 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 turned around the inquiry without sharing my identity, and shifted to the serious branch of budding conversation.  It perturbed me the caller ignored my tree-bound humour.  No apples picked for him.

     “Detective Martin of the Boston Police Department.”

     My balance upset and the mobile dropped away.  I wobbled.  My freed hand reached outward as if an outrigger and attempted counter-balance.  The branches convulsed from the abrupt movement and increased imbalance.

     “Fuck!”

     My ass slid off the branch.  Reacted just in time to prevent a tumbling fall, my hands enwrapped the craggy limb upon which I sat.  Without support from another branch, I wheeled around the limb, skewered meat riding a rotisserie.  My gravity induced ass hung down.  Ankles and hands grasped the branch like some tree-living, apple-loving lemur, except lemurs held their place in a tree.  Helpless, desperate, my hands squeezed the branch.  I found myself in a daub of trouble.

     Bess and Dalton ran to assist.  Their shouted encouragement urged temporary anchorage.  No shit.  Underneath, the children shouted their own warnings.

     I yelled for them to step aside.

     Seconds after the mobile fell, I followed it down ass first, the biggest apple the tree ever shed.  Added to my distressed humiliation and in true Newtonian fashion, two of the three apples I worked so hard to pick shook loose from my hard stir of the branches.  They fell with almost guided precision.  One struck me on the side of my head, the other mid-back.

     Ever the apple picking trooper, I scampered onto my knees, rubbed my wounded keister and bonked noggin, and took stock of my family, those folks who loved me and under normal circumstances demonstrated concern about my welfare, yet who instead rolled around the ground and laughed over my ass-first plunge and crowned apple beaning.

     With a long reach, I scoffed up the dropped mobile what started the nonsense, my arm twitched from conflicting signals, one a powerful urge to throw the now inoperative instrument into the stratosphere or at least the next tree, the other concern over who called.  Rather than launch it, I spied an apple, swept up the dropping, and sent it on a hellacious soar over two rows of trees.  To my detriment, no major league scouts watched.

     “Hey, watch it over there!”  A distant voice announced its unhappiness with my aim.

     “Sorry, it slipped out of my hand.”  No comeback to mine, so I guess the dude accepted the apology.

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