Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 20

20 | Psychopomp Magazine

She unfolded, picked up her bowl and gestured at his, Finished? He stalled a moment, uncomprehending, then looked down at his bowl, empty on the table, and handed it to her. Fingers touched fingers around the curve, and she pulled away. Dumped the bowls in the sink, ran the water long enough to loosen the Cheez then gave up. Stood at the counter a moment more, staring at the backsplash.

—I tried carrots, she blurted after a moment.

—Carrots! God, what I would do to taste a carrot again.

—You didn’t even like carrots, she said, turning to look over her shoulder, turning to face him.

—I liked pretending to be Bugs. He mimed holding a carrot, faked a crunching sound with his teeth. Eh, what’s up, doc? Or chewing away the outside to get to the core. The challenge of it. Kinda like skinning a grape. So what happened to the carrots?

—Nothing, she shook her head, crossed her arms over her chest, sat again.

For a while she had thought root vegetables would be more resilient, that the soil might protect them from the elements above instead of the delicate leafy greens that burnt away when it rained or dried to dust under the summer sun. But when she had pulled them from their muddy nests, poor things, little more than slimy blistered sacks stretched bladder-like over gelatinous guts they had rotted in the ground. She burned them in a garbage can, strew the ashes into the contaminated soil and left that patch fallow, cordoned off with stakes and twine. Planted the potatoes in the shady area under the fire escape and kept close watch, in case the disease spread. She sold the healthiest spuds at the market, and the ones she did not sell she found new uses for: cleaning products and soap, experiments with electricity to charge batteries or power a coffee pot. Something that