The Apple Orchard Kids, by Caitlin Kean

I tried to tell them that we were too old to go apple-picking, but did they listen? No. They made me pack up that Sunday and head out to old Whitmore Farm like we were in one of those subway ads for ZipCar featuring all of those beautiful, multi-ethnic friends. And did I complain when the weather dramatically changed the second we got there and a bunch of ominous clouds rolled in? You bet I did. And I rolled my eyes at the “prize-winning” pumpkin patch, barely stifled a yawn at the cider press, and washed my hands disdainfully after the petting zoo.

Oh what, was that free apple doughnut supposed to be some kind of consolation prize? Because as a matter of fact, it was delicious and I was just starting to think that maybe this orchard excursion wasn’t the worst idea when the group decided it was time to actually start picking the apples.

Would you believe that they expected me to get on a hayride and travel 25 minutes just to get to the actual orchard? Because that’s where we met Ephraim, our prepubescent wagon driver, and I made sure to tell everyone in the group how creepy I thought he was. I mean, was I not supposed to notice that he was dressed like one of those kids from Breaking Amish and that a cold wind rustled through the corn stalks every time he spoke? Because, uh, yeah, I noticed. “Welcome, Outlanders, prepare thyselves, for if we do not make haste, there will nary be enough daylight to execute the picking.”

Did I think it was weird that it was already pitch-black out even though it was only 1:45 p.m.? Of course I did, but everyone told me it was just the storm and to be quiet because I was ruining the day.

Did it seem a little inappropriate when Ephraim started singing what sounded like church songs in Latin or something while he was driving the wagon? Duh. But when I tried to tell everyone that, they were all like, “We’re in a silent, hypnotic trance and can’t say anything.” Should I have been more concerned about my friends instead of focusing on trying to Instagram a picture of the creepy woods that surrounded us on all sides? Well yeah, but the leaves were changing, and it was kind of beautiful in that “the seasons changing represents the cycle of life and death and everything eventually must die so that it can be reborn again” kind of way. Besides, people on Instagram love foliage. Was I upset when I realized I had no cell service? Totally, but I was distracted when a monstrously large crow landed on Ephraim’s shoulder and he started feeding it apples. “Greetings, Jericho, the picking will begin forthwith.”

Did I think it was bizarre that Ephraim had a pet crow named Jericho? Actually no, it was almost completely in line with everything I knew about Ephraim up until that point. It would have been weirder if I found out that he had a golden retriever.

Was I relieved when Ephraim slowed the wagon down because we had finally arrived at the orchard? Absolutely. I really had to go to the bathroom, and I was bored because everyone was still in that trance-like thing. Was I expecting a group of more Amish-looking children to be assembled in the clearing chanting when we arrived? I mean, maybe on some level since it suddenly dawned on me that we hadn’t seen a single adult that day. But I definitely didn’t expect them to start circling the wagon when Ephraim finally slowed to a stop.

Was I surprised when Ephraim revealed himself to be their leader and told the kids that we were “unbelievers” and “profaners” sent there by “The-One-Who-Sows-The-Forbidden-Fruit” to test them? Honestly, I was too busy trying to gloat to my catatonic friends that I had been right about Ephraim being a total creepshow all along. Did I freak out when Ephraim ordered my friends to be seized and to “spill the blood of the Outlanders”? Oh, for sure. That is, at least until I realized they weren’t going after me for some reason. Was I relieved when I realized that they thought I was a teenager even though I was actually 27? You bet I was. I considered it payback for all those times I was the only one who got carded at the bar.

Does that mean I’m happy to be picking apples on this godforsaken orchard until The-One-Who-Sows-The-Forbidden-Fruit comes again? Honestly, I’m just hoping that the others don’t notice when I celebrate my “15th” birthday for the third year in a row later this year. Do I wish my friends had listened to me three years ago when I told them that apple-picking was a terrible idea? Well, I guess, but it’s like Ephraim always says, “You reap what you sow,” and I have to hand it to the guy, these apples are delicious.

Caitlin Kean is a writer living in Brooklyn. She spends her time making faces at babies on the train and tweeting here.

The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit, send an email to Brian Boone.

The Apple Orchard Kids, by Caitlin Kean