Long, long ago, there lived a beautiful orphan named Sophia. Sophia lived in a small village nestled around fields of ruined crops. Each morning Sophia walked several miles to an abandon forest to pick fresh apples. She collected the apples one at a time to prepare for the weekly festival, in which she could sell all of her apples for profit. Sophia always sold more apples than any other women, since her apples were the sweetest and ripest. The villages rejoiced Sophia's talents and were very excited to buy her apples; however, Sophia dreamed of leaving her small dwelling and pursuing her dream of singing to the Gods.
One summer morning, Sophia left her home at the crack of dawn and headed to the forest to pick her apples. On her journey to the forest she often sang quietly to herself so she did not feel so lonely. Since Sophia spent much of her time alone, she was not used to the company of others. As Sophia skipped along to the forest, she suddenly felt as though someone was watching her. She turned back and did not see anyone. She continued on her way and again heard a faint noise from behind. She quickly looked back again to find nothing. Sophia became nervous and wondered if she should turn back. She knew that it was that last day to collect apples before the market and she would be unable to buy the supplies she needed for that week if she did not pick her apples, so she decided to continue. She walked several more feet until again she heard a sound. This time the sound was much louder and carried on for a longer period of time. Sophia could decipher parts of the noise and recognized it as a howl. She knew the land pretty well and knew that wolves and dogs were not common to the area. Suddenly, everything became dark as a canvas bag was thrown over her head and she was lifted off the ground.
Sophia began to kick and scream, however no one was near to help her. She was unsure what was carrying her or what had happened, so she continued to fight the creature for many hours. Eventually, she was placed on the ground. After much struggle, the bag was lifted off her head. It took several seconds for Sophia's eyes to adjust to the sunlight but once they did she was able to recognize the creature as a man. The man was young and rugged. He appeared to be the same age as her; however, she did not recognize him. He was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt and carried a black backpack. He introduced himself as Paul.
"Hello I am Paul. I am from a nearby village and I have been watching you for several weeks," he told her in a low, deep voice. "Please do not be afraid. I have admired you and have come to you for help."
Sophia remained still, stunned by this man. She replied, "What do you mean? I have nothing for you to admire and I don't know how I could ever help you. I am just a poor orphaned girl, who can hardly supply enough food and supplies for me."
Paul chuckled and looked into Sophia's eyes. "You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen." Sophia blushed, but didn't want Paul to think she was falling for him so she caught herself and made a stern look. "What do you want from me?," she said.
Paul looked around, trying to avoid eye contact with her and replied, "I want you to help me grow and pick apples." Sophia was amazed. She thought to herself, why this man would want my help. He continued, "I know your secrete to growing the most beautiful apples and I would like you to help me. I am a poor man who is looking for a wife and the only way to get a girl to fall in love with me is by growing apples."
Sophia agreed to help Paul. They walked for three nights to the forest where Sophia gathered apples. They had to venture so far so that no one else would be able to discover Sophia's talent. As they walked, Sophia grew fond of Paul and enjoyed her time spent with him. Paul also began to have strong feelings towards Sophia and asked that she marry him once they returned to the village. Sophia agreed and the couple grew anxious to return to the city.
Once they arrived to the abandoned forest, it was Paul's job to make sure there was no sign of human life. After checking around the perimeter of the forest he reported that he found no one. Sophia slowly laid out a blanket and began to quietly hum. Paul stood behind her admiring her beauty. The forest had no sign of life. No trees, no apples, no animals. The forest definitely didn't appear to be a place where the most beautiful, tastiest apples grew. Sophia's eyes remained closed as she continued to hum.
After several minutes, her head slowly raised and her hum became a quiet song. The song was one of the most beautiful noises Paul had ever heard and he felt so blessed to be in Sophia's presence. Soon, Sophia began to gain volume and her voice became loud and boisterous. As her volume increased, life began to form all around her.
First, green grass began to cover the ground. Then flowers and trees spurted from the soil and grew into luscious trees. On the final note of the song, Paul watched as apples began to fill the trees which surrounded them.
The apples were the most beautiful things Paul had ever seen. He quickly ran up to a tree and began to climb it. When he got to the top he picked one of the apples and began his venture down. When he returned to the ground he took a large bit out of the apple. He had never tasted anything so good. The apple was sweet, yet tart and had just the right amount of crisp.
He was overjoyed with happiness and quickly returned to Sophia to tell her the good news. However, as Paul called for her, Sophia did not motion. She had not moved since completing her last note. In his celebration, he ran to her and lifted her to her feet so they could be merry over the wonderful apples. But Sophia remained in a trance.
Although, she was finished singing she had not raised her head like she had done in the past. A motionless Sophia rested in Paul's hands as he swung her frail body around the forest. As he twirled her around and around, he finally realized that she was not celebrating. He looked into her angel eyes and noticed that they had remained closed. He set her down and began to shake her in order to wake her.
Suddenly, a large tree submerged between the couple. The tree acted as a barrier between Paul and the women he loved. He frantically tried to get around the tree, but more and more trees grew, until he was unable to recognize which tree was the original. He stood in the forest crying out for Sophia, but there was no response. The young lover did not know what to do and felt lost without Sophia.
Although he had watched Sophia in the forest before, he had never seen the forest grow to such extremes. In the past, he had only witnessed her singing to cause the grass and trees to grow. He didn't know what to do. What had happened to cause the forest to grow and take his love away?
For fifteen days, Paul searched for countless hours in the forest. He found nothing and soon the forest returned to its dying beginnings. One night, before Paul went to sleep, he heard a tap on his window. He looked out to see a glowing figure. He put on his jacket and headed outside. The figure was an angel. The angel was beautiful and appeared familiar. The angel was his mother, who had passed when he was a young boy.
Paul was delighted by the sight of his mother. And fell to his knees begging her to help him find his loved one. He told the story of Sophia's disappearance and of his broken heart. She listened to her son but did not speak. This angered him and he felt hopeless even within his mother's presence.
"Paul," she said. "Sophia is a beautiful young woman. It is her calling to sing for the Gods. When the Gods heard her singing for you they knew it was time to bring her to the heavens. We have been listening to her for a long time and granting her with beautiful apples, but the Gods knew something was missing from her heart when she sang. And that something was love. Paul, you gave her the love she needed to come to the heavens and sing for the Gods."
Paul was in shock and didn't know what to say. Although he was happy that Sophia was now in the heavens and could sing to the Gods as she had always dreamed of, he did not want to let her go. "But mother, I do not want her to be in heaven. I have been searching for her for over 15 nights and I cannot bear the thought of her never returning to me."
The angel looked into the poor eyes of her now grown son and said, "My boy, your beautiful wife is with you. Don't you see? Every time it rains she is singing. Every time a flower buds she is singing. Every time an apple grows she is singing for you."
Paul remained silent for several seconds. Then suddenly he felt a tiny rain drop fall onto his forehead. He knew she had been there with him the entire time. He knew that a tree could not tear their love apart and he knew she had returned to him in the form of all living things.
After leaving his mother, Paul returned to the village. Upon his return, he became one of the greatest apple sellers in the entire village. His apples were known for their decadent, bright red color and their suburb taste. Many villagers wondered what Paul's secret was to producing such wonderful apples. Paul would smile when they asked and return to his home in the middle of an abandoned forest surrounded by the beauty of his true love, Sophia.