“An apple?! Why thank you, Michael. I love apples!” Mrs. Prentice said to the tenth child to have brought her an apple that morning. The legend of Valerie Prentice’s love of apples had spread throughout the elementary school at which she taught, so at the start of each week the suck ups of the class always brought her one. The Northern Spy was her favourite, simply because it was her number one choice for baking.
Over the course of a school year, it added up to a lot of apples. Over the course of her twelve year teaching career it added up to even more. She saved the seeds from each and every one of them. At first, people wondered if maybe she had some weird OCD obsession with seeds, but when the fields out back of Valerie’s farm house started sprouting apple trees, everyone finally understood.
“That’s quite the crop you’ve got growing behind your place,” Mark Daniels, the math teacher, said. “I heard you loved apples, but I never knew it was this much.”
It’s not that Valerie loved apples, so much as she loved the thought of what those apples could do for her and her husband, Eric. They could win them their freedom. After two years of teaching, Valerie had seen enough Board of Education cutbacks and more than enough kids whose parents didn’t believe in discipline to know she didn’t want to keep doing it until retirement. Eric was just as worn out from his job as a boilermaker. It was time to plan for their future.
So they bought the property that everyone else thought was ugly for next to nothing, started planting apple seeds as though there was a worldwide shortage of apple pies, and then watched them blossom. It took awhile, for them to have enough apples to bring to market and to sell at craft shows and county fairs in the form of pies, jams and turnovers, but it eventually happened.
“If only I could have figured out a way to bag the bullshit the Board of Education kept tossing at us. I would have been out of here sooner,” Valerie said on her way out to her car on her last day of class.
“I’m going to miss you, Mrs. Prentice,” a teary-eyed Michael said.
“Don’t cry sweetie. You’ll see me around. Just look for the biggest display of apples anytime you go to the market with your Mom, or to the Fall Fair. I’ll be standing right behind it, with a big smile on my face. Because that’s how much apples make happy. I hope you find what makes you happy Michael and hold on to it. See ya!”