Los Angeles, CA
John and Emma were smoking on the street after watching a science fiction movie. It was about these aliens that had abducted an entire city's worth of humans to a research station in space, which was built to look exactly like a city. It even had highways, rivieras, and skyscrapers. The aliens were exchanging the people's memories to see how they act when given different lives.
"...so you don't eat meat because you're disturbed that the thing you are eating used to be alive?" John asked. John had never dated a vegan before and she was pretty adamant about her views on omnivores.
"Yeah," Emma said, "it freaks me out so bad, I can't look at it, a slice of flesh, sitting there on a plate. I can't look at it without thinking it used to belong to a part of something that had a consciousness and a life. It might have been a shitty life or a good life, but it was a part of something that used to be living, that knew it was alive."
"Hm..." John said.
They walked down the street in the dark, sweet-smelling drizzle. The streetlamps reflected in the puddles. Suddenly it began to pour harder, big, fat, raindrops, the kind that belong in a Texas thunderstorm, the kind that soak your shirt after a mere second; John had parked the Plymouth a few blocks away so they began to run. It was raining harder and harder, and trash began floating down the gutters.
Laughing, John and Emma ducked into an awning. The rest of the block was mostly unlit, there was no one else on the street, it was very picturesque. John, pork-pie hat wet from the rain, held Emma close, her red lipstick pointing up at his face like the paint of a helicopter landing pad. Even in those bright red four-inch heels she was only as tall as his chest. He was a big man though, who liked to wear ties. Even from so far away, he felt her breath on his face, they were both smiling, he felt nervous, like mice were running circles in his stomach, so he pulled her closer and they kissed. It was very romantic.
"This is very romantic," he said.
"You make me laugh," she said.
"So let's get to know each other better," he said. "Stick with me, kid, we'll go places."
"Alright," she said. "But let's wait a minute to see if this rain lets up."
So they talked about why Emma was vegan and other things similarly inane. It didn't matter. They felt like they had known each other for a long time, and were comfortable around each other even though they had only met that night.
"So, I just won't eat meat when I'm around you, OK?" John said.
"You don't have to do that," Emma said, "It's just my choice."
"No, it's about respect, ok? But also, if you're around it'll be easier for me to eat healthy."
"Whatever," Emma rolled her eyes, but she was still in his clutches, so he kissed her again. It really was quite romantic and silly.
The rain was still heavy and John held Emma close to him, she leaned against him "I heard from a friend of mine about a new metaphysical study regarding the behavior of plant life," he said.
"Oh yeah?" she asked, "How reliable is this source?"
"Not really, but listen anyway," he said "These scientists, or students, or whatever, were growing two tomato plants with the exact same variables, like, in the same room, same fertilizer, same light, everything the same. So these plants were growing really well and they were tomato plants and fertilized each other's flowers and shit and they bore fruit and they were both very healthy and their tomatoes tasted good on soy-meat sandwiches, you dig?"
She laughed and said "Yeah I get it, one of them is a control, so what'd they do to the variable?"
"You're very sharp, you pretty thing!" he said. She dug her head into his ribs. "Ouch! Ok, so one day, one of the scientists or students or whatever, came in with a big pair of scissors and chopped one of the tomato plants to bits vicious-like and killed it. The scientists or students or whatever then kept taking care of the other plant exactly like they had been, with just the right amount of attention and fertilizer and everything, and they just left the dead one there."
"Whoa," she said, "that seems cruel to me for some reason..."
"That's not the half of it, get this, the living plant started to wilt, and within the month, the poor thing was dead! Isn't that terrifying?"
"Yeah, that's pretty funny" she said. John then looked very sad, let go of Emma, turned his back, and started walking away.
"No, no it isn't," he said.
She laughed, "Oh, come on! Yes it is!" and reached out to him, but when she grabbed the left sleeve of his sport-coat, his arm felt out of it, severed at each socket, including his fingers, twenty-five pieces in all fell to the ground. Then his left leg buckled in some very unnatural ways, then the rest of him, like a well-dressed mannequin made of puzzle blocks, until he lay there in two-hundred and six pieces; not that Emma was very much bothered by how many pieces of John were suddenly dead and silent and unmoving at her feet.
~ ~ ~
Come back Monday, Nov 30
and read Graveyard Waltz,
by Daniel José Older
when the FoFaSF wraps up
this month's issue