I was born for one purpose. My duty in life is to provide nourishment to the Peelers, to help fuel their lives by giving my own. My life was dark for some time, a flash of brightness before I and my brothers were taken away from our home. I don’t know how much time passed between then and now, but here I sit surrounded by my brothers waiting to be chosen, to be given my chance to live.
I am still a young creature, firm and green like my brothers. I know that now, in the Choosing Place, is a critical time for us. If we are allowed to age on these shelves, we will die uneaten. Our coats will rot and we will turn to slime and there will be only regret and despair until there is nothing more. Our lives will be a waste.
We are thrown carelessly into a basket by a Peeler, all of my brothers and I. I am filled with joy to know that we have passed this critical test. We circle the Choosing Place as distant cousins and foreign things are thrown into the basket next to us. We come to the Gates of Freedom in the Choosing Place and the Handler puts us in bags for the Peeler.
I think that all will be well for now, but there is a problem. The Handler apologizes to the Peeler. She cannot pay for all of us. The bags are unpacked and I’m placed back onto the Gates. The Peeler stares at us, sorting things one by one until two things are left.
My brothers and I stare down the foreign box. It isn’t even alive; it has no true purpose. To be left behind because of it would be an insult.
“Jeremy said he wanted bananas, but it’s Amanda’s birthday tomorrow. I promised a cake…”
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing. Are you sure you have the total right?”
“I’m sorry, miss. I put all your discounts in and took off the cereal and the potatoes. You either have to pick one or get rid of something else.”
The Peeler sighs and picks us up. I think that we are saved, but she hands us to the Handler. “It has to be this, then. Hopefully my husband will forget about it.”
We are sailing into darkness, about to be doomed forever to die, when another Peeler steps up in line. They talk with the Handler and we are put back into a bag. I hear our Peeler crying and I know that she will need us eventually, but for now it is enough just to know that I will nourish her.
When we are taken back out of the bag, we are in the Peeler’s home. It is very dirty. I do not want to be set on the counter, but my brothers and I are set down on a layer of grime. Our peels will protect us, at least. A little Peeler runs up and grabs the female Peeler around the legs. A large male Peeler comes in after her.
“Took you long enough. Where the fuck did you go, China? I don’t want you buying me no chink meat to cook for dinner.”
“I’m sorry. Our card was declined. I only had the ones from last night and it still wasn’t enough. Some old man behind me paid for the rest.”
The male Peeler grabs one of my brothers and peels him roughly. Success! I wish my brother luck in the afterlife as the male Peeler takes a bite. He fulfilled his purpose. “What, was he one of your regulars?”
“No, god. Just a nice old man. We talked about this before; you can’t buy your beer until after I get groceries. This happens every time you get your paycheck. You blow it all and we end up running out of food!”
The male Peeler slaps the woman Peeler. My brother is almost completely devoured. I wonder when the little Peeler or the female Peeler will choose another one of us. Maybe I’ll be next. “That’s why you’re working at Johnny’s, you stupid cunt. Maybe if you went into the back room more often you wouldn’t have to complain to me when you can’t afford food!”
“Let’s not fight in front of Amanda,” the female Peeler says. “Come on, honey. Let’s get you to bed so Mommy can go to work. You need to get a good night’s sleep for your birthday tomorrow.”
The Peelers leave me and my remaining brothers on the counter. As the days pass, I relax and begin turning brown in little spots. The green leaves me and I now can now only think of the day when I will become nourishment. My brothers are taken one by one, all devoured by the male Peeler.
Somehow, I am the unwanted one. I am left alone on the layer of grime as dishes pile higher in the sink next to me. Is this my fate? Will I turn brown and be forgotten, to be inedible to the Peelers? Will I have lived my entire life without helping them?
I am depressed at the prospect of this. I can only contemplate a meaningless existence until the female Peeler bursts into the kitchen one night holding something to her ear. She herself looks unpeeled, with all of her core showing and covered in glitter. “Yeah, Kiki called me and I told her I couldn’t work but Johnny said if I wasn’t on stage in thirty minutes I could kiss my spot goodbye.”
She looks in the Cold Box and sees that there is nothing there. She turns and rummages through the pantry, ignoring me completely. “I know, I know, but Kiki and I are his only redheads. He says that without one of us the club doesn’t make as much.”
Finally, the female Peeler turns to me. She grabs me and heads out the door. Waters coats us both before we can get into her transportation, and I’m set on the seat as she continues talking to her hand. When will I be eaten? If she grabbed me, why am I not right now providing nourishment? Am I to be thrown away?
“Try dying your hair, then, but I think it’s Johnny that likes redheads, not the customers. Kiki flirts with him like it’s no big deal but there’s no way I’m letting him sample this product. Over my cold dead body.”
The water from outside the transportation is getting louder. I see it running down the windows and wonder why the Peeler seems so upset. Water is the breath that gave me life! Peelers too partake in its glory, yet the Peeler curses at the weather. I think that perhaps it is because she is lacking nourishment and I wish I could force her to eat me. I must help her!
Finally, the Peeler reaches over for me. At last! She takes my stem and yanks down one side of my peel, but then her transportation swerves. I go flying through the air as the transportation rumbles and flips. The Peeler screams and everything is very confusing as the transportation skids along the ground.
The Peeler is upside-down now, dangling from her seat. Her pulp leaks out of her head and stains her hands red as she grabs herself. I think that she will reach for me, but I am forgotten on the ceiling of the car. I wait for the Peeler to grab me once more, to allow me to nourish her, but she becomes still. I wait and wait and wait, but water leaks into the transportation. What once gave me life is slowly killing me, robbing me of my body.
I decompose as the days pass, but my Peeler doesn’t move once to try to eat me. I failed to serve my purpose. I am nothing.