Chew! Spit! Rinse!

Slave - Spectre of the Brocken - Ran Kime

She whipped my hand. The pain was decent. Welts surfaced over old scars. She barked demands, her words an incomprehensible barrage. She hit me on the head as I sat on the floor, chewing. Juices dripped down my cheeks, my jaw numb from the relentless gnawing.

Another needle slapped my hand, devoid of sensation. The clinking of her knitting needles became an incessant sound, a conditioned voice, much like tinnitus, forgotten until focused upon.

“Chew, Chew, you piece of shit! I need more… Chew!” Her screams clung to the dank air. The celery bowl perched perfectly at the table’s edge, within reaching distance of where I sat. Her threats hung heavy. If I failed to comply, it was days of darkness in the chokey and lost wages for her.

Passion fueled her determination to craft the finest garments for the local elite, who paid handsomely for her fine wares.

“Chew, you trollop… Chew.” Fear and classical conditioning guided my autopilot to chew.

“Spit,” she demanded, donning her sacred silk white glove. A ritualistic act. She placed the glove beneath my jaw. “Spit, you fool.” 

Rolling the precious strings from the celery stick in my mouth, I formed a neat ball and spat it into her hand. 

“Hmmm…this looks to be the best one yet,” she declared. Her breath was warm with the scent of celery. She tugged my ear closer to her lips and whispered, “All the rest… should match the quality of this one.”

Another kick, and the conveyor belt of torment started again. “Chew!” Blood drops splattered onto her floor as my jaw moved involuntarily. “Don’t you dare stain my strings with your blood!” 

My hand, seemingly under external control, pushed a new celery stick into my mouth. I chewed, swallowed, and rolled the remaining strings into a ball, spitting it into her gloved hand. 

“Again!” she commanded.

This was my life now, a lower-class lackey, a slave, producing raw materials for the wealthy. I had failed at life. 

Her knitting needles transformed celery strings into overpriced garments such as sweaters, scarfs, hats, and required ankle-length skirts. She knitted at such speeds that I couldn’t keep up the pace, which led to the whip or the chokey.

“Chew!” “Spit!” “Rinse.”

The coveted “rinse” word signaled a brief, well-needed break. This meant I could venture into the vast celery gardens to rake dead leaves and pluck weeds. I stumbled as far as my weary legs and tether took me, then melted to my knees. The sun briefly warmed my face. Visions of my son playing on the beach tugged at my mind. 

Her ferocious knitting sounds and cadence escaped from inside, out into the garden. Acres and acres of celery gardens and hundreds of clotheslines dried her freshly knitted clothes. 

I pushed myself from the ground with all I had. My knees cracked and my back ached. Before I could stand, she retracted the tether. 

Her voice shattered my fleeting tranquility. “Get the fuck back in here, stupid!” She yelled, ordering me back inside.

I looked upward for one last glance towards the warmth.

Sat up straight, as instructed in training. 

I reached for the new stick she motioned to…

 and chewed.

Slave: You can find this story in the collection “Spectre of the Brocken: Halo for the Observer.”

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Ran Kime Writer
Ran Kime, a writer, poet, musician and recluse from New Hampshire, crafts abstract stories, flash fiction & poetry that probe the psyche. His collections include “Spectre of the Brocken: Halo for the observer” and “Way Past Tipsy & Other Silent Cries for Help”.