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I’m sitting with Jeremy in his kitchen. He is eating beets out of a jar, spooning them into his mouth with two fingers. It’s three in the morning, and we’ve lit a candle in the middle of the table. Jeremy looks red in the light, the beets redder. The juice stains his fingertips deep and I watch them, always the same two fingers, always two slices of beet.

“You don’t love beets,” he says, and I shake my head. The world rocks beneath us, like for three seconds we are on a sailboat.

“Maybe I could love beets,” I murmur, but so softly that I don’t think he hears me. I watch the walls while he eats. The candlelight casts strange shadows and I see a lion chase after an antelope. The lion takes it down and I can’t stop looking as it eats, tearing into the thick flesh, rough dirty cuts. I watch Jeremy eat beets, his purple fingertips.

“Can I try one?” I ask and he hands me the jar. The outside is damp from his hand. I put the beet in my mouth, let it sit on my tongue and soak into me. It tastes like dirt and I find myself rooted to the ground, vines crawling up my legs. I pull at them but they hold fast, bright and green and they make me lovely.

“Look,” I say, “I am lovely. Look at me.” Jeremy doesn’t look up from the beets, his fingers, the candle. “Jeremy, please look.”

“You aren’t lovelier than these beets.” He puts another into his mouth. “You aren’t lovelier than these beets but I guess you’ll do.” Flowers bloom along my ribcage, peonies like my mother grows, peonies that draw ants. Jeremy looks at me across the table. His eyes shine beetle black.

He stands up and comes to kneel beside me. He is so tall, so tall that even kneeling he can look me in the eyes. I am growing smaller, I think, wilting into the dirt around my feet. He presses his mouth to mine, slips his tongue along my teeth. I taste beets, and soil. He leans back, unscrews the jar, slips out two slices with his two fingers.

“Would you like a beet?” he says, hovering them before my mouth.

“No, thank you, I tried one. I didn’t really like it.” I try to move my hands, to push away the beets, but they have sprouted into leaves, green and gangly at my sides.

“If you eat a beet, you’ll be just as lovely.”

“Just as lovely?”

“I promise you, even lovelier.” He smiles and I can see the chip in his tooth, his tongue pressing into it. I want him to kiss me again.

“Just one? I can maybe handle just one.” I take a deep breath and open my mouth. “Just one beet, Jeremy.”

“Just one,” he says, and puts both on my tongue. “Chew, Sophie. You’ll be lovely now.”

Sarah Vesely recently graduated Columbia College Chicago. She lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and brand new daughter and hopes to one day write a great novel (if the baby ever lets her sleep long enough). She has been published in Hair Trigger 38.

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