The strange thing about the small house, located at 17 Orchard Road, just a bit off from Route 2, was the apple tree that grew through the center of the living room. George Pritchett, who had built the house in his youth, after inheriting a small fortune from his grandmother’s passing, loved apples. He had grown up near Thompson’s Orchard and would spend summer afternoons hiding from Old Farmer Thompson in the higher branches of the stronger trees. His grandmother would always question him when he arrived home, as he smelled of rich golden deliciousness. But, George would never tell her where he had been in fear that she would forbid him from venturing down the long, winding, wooded path that led straight from his back yard to the lower fence of Thompson’s eastern field.
George’s parents had died at a very young age and his grandmother took him in. She had not gotten along with her daughter, who had disobeyed and run off to follow her dream of becoming a musician. But, she was a proud woman and could not allow a child of her bloodline to be raised by strangers. So, in the winter of George’s fourth year of apple loving life, he moved into his grandmother’s estate. He would not discover the path leading to Thompson’s Orchard for another three years. And it would be another two after that before he first climbed the rickety, old fence and sunk his teeth into the most delicious apple he had ever imagined.
George’s new life seemed blessed in so many ways. He received the finest education, the best clothes, he travelled the world, he took part in rigorous debates over foreign and domestic policy, he learned the finer points of behavior, and he had access to a library of fiction and non-fiction that rivaled universities and governments. But, he would’ve traded all of it for untethered access to just one of Old Mr. Thompson’s trees.
The family fortune had been amassed by George’s grandmother’s father, Wilbur, a brilliant scientist, businessman, and engineer. His inventions, to this day, can be found in near every bathroom, kitchen, basement, and office. He was a humble man, much like his daughter, and much like George, who was a pretty handy inventor himself.
After his grandmother’s passing, the Thompson Orchard fell into a terrible state. Old Man Thompson grew ill and his bully of a son, who had tortured George throughout his wonder years, took over the business. Kevin, the bully, had no taste for apples. He had never understood why his father put such importance on his fields. It was most likely this that led to Kevin’s brutish attitude, as it was no secret that Mr. Thompson showed far more affection to even his smallest tree than he even showed to Kevin. As such, Kevin’s first act as manager of Thompson Orchards was to close down the eastern and northern fields to make room for a hotel of some type.
George had moved away by this time but kept a close ear to any news regarding his beloved trees. He arrived barely in time to make an offer on one of the few still standing golden delicious relics from his childhood. Kevin desperately wanted to say no, one last stab at his childhood neighbor, of whom he was always secretly envious. But when George offered the price of nearly ten times the tree’s value, Kevin had no choice but to agree to the sale.
A truck arrived the next day. The tree was uprooted and carefully transported to a beautiful plot of empty land just off of Route 2. At the time, George was living near by and had bought the plot with plans to build his dream home. Only, at the time, his dream was unrealized. Now, however, with an endless amount of inspiration in the shape of perfect, green apples, the design plans flew from his fingers faster than his pen could keep up. George still enjoyed writing with a fountain tip pen. A habit he had inherited from his grandmother, who no doubt had inherited it from Wilbur.
The houses imported red bricks, large windows, impeccable gardens, and enormous rooftop balcony were mere shadows compared to the main attraction. In the center of the house’s living room, George designed an easily accessible courtyard, which housed his best friend, his most cherished possession, his source of food, memory, happiness, and love – his very own Thompson apple tree.