That November was an overripe pomegranate.
Paring knife in hand, Emma Crick's freckled fingers pressed gently into the stiff shells of the bloody fruit. She'd already made a mess of one, leaving scarlet splatters all over the marble counters and flecks of white film stuck the edges of her knife and bowl where she had deposited the sweet seeds. Sanguine splotches ran down the white lace of her dress and stained the flesh of her fingers up to the knuckle. Her hand crept over and caressed the bowl of pomegranates before her finger left a porous dimple in one. She cupped the ripe fruit in one hand and brought it over the bowl, then plunged the shining blade into its center and twisted. Deep red, almost purple, juices pooled around the wound and gathered into a sticky river, falling downward to coat the glistening jewels positioned below it. The closer to rotting the sweeter the taste. With several drastic incisions, Emma dissected the pomegranate, her fingers working away, steadily and efficiently. The seeds fell into their bowl like bloody teeth, and Emma smeared their juice on the side of her dress.
Music danced in the air of the kitchen as Emma seeded the fruit. It was something light and folksy, the sort of music she would never have admitted to enjoying. She discarded the inedible husk and sucked the juice off of her fingers, licking the reddish coat from the web between her forefinger and thumb. Emma stood from the stool at the counter and picked her dress up by the hem. She lifted it up and over her head, then tossed it on the floor like shed snakeskin. She shivered briefly in her nudity, then lifted her bowl off the counter and left the kitchen. Down the vast expanse of the hall, the corny lyrics and acoustic guitars were drowned out by the sound of an angry woman even before entering the parlor and seeing Nancy Cobden baring her teeth on the parlor wall. The words "God sees the sin in man, and that sin is punished with disease" hung heavily in the room. Emma crossed the spotted white fur rug and slunk into a plush arm chair, facing Cobden's giant waspish face floating above the aging skin slacking around the pearls encircling her neck. To Emma's left, the fireplace started up again, flickering waves of lively crimson and orange. Salamander statues on the hearth watched as Emma brought pomegranate seeds to her soft lips.
"God does not approve of the measures being taken to suppress punishment for sin!"
The seeds nestled between Emma's ivory teeth, then succumbed to the gentle pressure that caused them to burst, spraying their sweetness across her tongue. The image on the parlor wall shifted, splitting the screen between the aging Cobden and a stout man with thin argent hair.
"Why you believe it is appropriate to bring religion into this, Ms. Cobden is beyond me-"
"Proof that we are living in Godless times! We've all regressed to sluggish, gluttons and hedonists and no one wants to mention the Lord because they are afraid! They are afraid to believe in Him because He will punish them for their sins!"
"So we are to stand by and let the ill die? The poor children with Lenz's-"
"The 'poor' children with Lenz's would be cured if only they'd expiate! No one turns to priests when they are ill anymore, they turn to cacodemons in white coats who do the most wicked things!"
"Orisons, in any number, will not cure a sick patient and a peccadillo is not a contagion-"
"And playing God will not leave the Lord inclined to be merciful!"
"Children with Lenz's need new bodies-"
"God made perfect vessels and sin alone has corrupted them!"
Three stories below, the house chimed and welcomed Emma's parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Crick, welcome home!"
"Christ, Leonard, turn that thing off!"
"Margaret, you're drunk."
"And you're not?"
"Come on, we'll say goodnight to Emma. She's on her floor."
"No, use the intercom."
Emma leaned over the arm of her chair and pressed a button near the hearth.
"It's already on," she called.
There was an awkward silence as her father sighed and her mother's heels clicked away while she waltzed off for a drink.
"I'm coming up," he announced.
"That's okay. Goodnight father, mother," Emma lifted her finger off the button and slumped back into her chair.
"Go up there!" she heard her father hiss. Her mother groaned.
Emma sighed and considered retrieving her dress as her mother emerged from the kitchen and into the parlor on her daughter's floor. In her hands, she held the ruined lace garment.
"This is real, you know," her mother's eyes remained on the stains, avoiding the scars marking her bare breasted daughter.
"That means its expensive."
Emma shrugged, "Get a new one."
Her mother closed her eyes. "You're nude."
"Do you even care?"
"About what? That I'm not clothed?"
Emma shrugged again, then leaned over her chair in search for the remote.
"My daughter is plagued with acedia-"
"-and a few more lethal diseases."
Emma gave up on her search and drew her knees up to her chest.
Her mother looked away from the dress and at the parlor wall. "Why are you watching that sanctimonious witch?"
"That made sense."
"She's talking about me."
"She's talking about Lenz's, not you."
"I am Lenz's." She placed seeds on her tongue.
"I don't know what to do with you!" her mother walked back into the kitchen, shaking her head.
"I don't know what to do either!" Emma yelled at her. She stood and followed her, taking the bowl with her.
"I've been here for twenty-one years! Every year you expect me to die!"
Her mother stopped, turned on her heels and stared down at her daughter.
"That is not true, Emma," she turned away and entered the lift.
Emma threw the bowl to the floor and screamed. Sanguine pomegranate and shattered pottery littered the floor. Emma ran across the mess, cutting her feet on the broken bowl and leaving blood and juice tracks behind her. She reached the counter, and plunged both hands into the bowl of pomegranates. She took one in each and hand and threw them at the doors of the lift. The fruits split as they struck the hard surface, spraying and splatter scarlet liquid everywhere. Emma threw more and more, screaming as they cracked upon like watery red geodes.
That November was an overripe pomegranate, split with maturity, revealing spongy marrow and bloody garnets that deliquesce into viscous streams and seep into the bleached bone. Her own mutinous marrow would soon be the end of her.
AN: hmmm naked ladies naked ladies naked ladies.
New story and stuff. I kinda like it.