I was running late for work—and by late, I mean I left my house closer to 4:15 than 4:00AM.

As usual, I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, but caffeine was already infiltrating my system, and I had an apple in my left hand—first breakfast.

Like so many mornings before, I dabbed the juice from my chin with the back of my sleeve, enjoying the crisp sound and taste of the first bite. It was the perfect driving snack. No trash, no crumbs, and though the juice was sometimes a little sticky, it wiped away easily enough.

I admit, I was rushing. I may even have been speeding that morning, though I would never admit to it. It was too dark to read the speed limit signs anyway.

But, apparently, my level of hurrying could not keep pace with that of the truck behind me.

I frowned and squinted at the light beaming into my car through the rear window. I could see two large headlights behind me, looming like the eyes of a giant feline ready to pounce.

Not one to be easily intimidated, I maintained my relatively reasonable speed, and took another bite of my apple, now illuminated by the headlights behind me.

I paused mid-chew.

What was that dark area I had seen?

It was the seeds. Yeah, it was the apple core. The seeds…it was the…please God let it be the seeds…did that last bite taste a little bitter?

It was dark again.

I swallowed almost against my will.

Just the seeds.

The truck aggressively pushed closer to my rear bumper again, and, half scared to even look, I glanced down at my once more illuminated apple.

It was a dead maggot.

Yes, that’s right. There was a dead maggot in the middle of this apple I had just bitten into. Was it a whole maggot or had I eaten part of it?

I didn’t want to know.

The cold morning air hit my face as I chucked first breakfast out my window, and tried to suppress the gag that was attempting to eject potential maggot parts from my stomach—only because there was no place to pull over.

It was a pretty harrowing experience, one I am unlikely to forget.

But in the end, I learned to be grateful for impatient truck drivers, something I never would have expected otherwise.

I also learned to inspect my fruit before leaving the house.

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

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