Two people are living on an island in a grove of trees that they planted together.
One person takes all of the apples from the surrounding trees and claims them as their own.
The other person, thinking it is just a joke and will not last, allows them to take all of the apples and picks from the only pear tree.
This happens every year. The apple-picker takes all of the apples and survives off of them for an entire year, and the the pear-picker barely survives on the tree’s-worth of pears and whatever else they can scrounge from the ground.
The pear-picker begins to ask if the apple-picker ever intends to divide the fruit evenly. The apple-picker says, if you had been smarter and quicker and stronger, you would have gotten as many apples as I did. But the truth is not that the apple-picker was quicker or stronger or smarter – they were just being selfish.
Over time, the pear-picker becomes weakened by not having enough to eat, and begs the apple-picker for some apples. The apple-picker only gives up some of the bruised ones, but the pear-picker needs anything they can get. The apple-picker brags of their generosity and shames the pear-picker for being so weak and stupid. The pear-picker has no way to leave the island to look for more food. If they try to pick any of the apples for themself, the apple-picker beats them and yells at them. Sometimes when the apple-picker feels a twinge of guilt, they give the pear-picker some of their apples. But afterwards, they demand favors in exchange for those apples. If the pear-picker refused, they fear they would never receive apples again, and they would die.
The pear-picker tries many times to remind the apple-picker that they had planted the grove together, as equals, and they always should have shared the fruit equally. The apple-picker reuses to acknowledge this, and insists on the story that they had always been smarter, quicker, and stronger. The pear-picker makes appeals of love, but the apple-picker still wants to feel powerful, and insists that love did not make the pear-picker any less slow, weak, or stupid. They claim that they held the burden of looking after the pear-picker. Still the pear-picker goes undernourished and sad. Sometimes they wondered, is it true? Have I always been slower and weaker and less intelligent?
After some time, the pear-picker becomes more sure that this is not true. They are only now slow because they could not eat enough. They must have been strong to have made it thus far. And they had not endured this arrangement for lack of intelligence, but for the hope that the apple-picker would change their ways. Their love was strong. But they also loved themself, and they knew they should not have to suffer this way.
The pear-picker eats everything they can find and reserves as much energy as possible. Then one year, they go out very early and divide all of the apples nearly in half, giving the apple-picker one more apple tree and keeping the pear tree as their own.
The apple-picker is furious and asks why this has happened. The pear-picker says it was time that they treated each other as equals. The apple-picker shames them – calls them ungrateful, entitled, irrational. But the pear-picker thinks of their own worth and requests that please, the apple-picker let things be equal. The apple-picker is silent for a while, then begins to gather up their half of the fruit. The pear-picker hopes all will be well.
The pear-picker soon realizes that the apple-picker is stealing their fruit in the night. They ask the apple-picker to stop – do they really love feeling powerful more than they love the other? But the apple-picker says the pear-picker is being dramatic and refuses to acknowledge the theft. Over time, the apple-picker steals more and more until things are much as they were before.
How do you think the story will end?