WARNING: HIGHLY SENSITIVE SUBJECT MATERIAL DEPICTED!


For your consideration, we at DPW would like to extend a trigger warning to our valued readers over the following story. While nothing is explicitly described, highly violent situations and instances of disturbing sexual encounters are depicted. We advise anyone sensitive to these subjects to refrain from reading.

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She liked the crunch of things.

Many things.

Lots of different kinds of things.

Of chips and uncooked rice.

Of apples and tree bark.

Of fingers and celery.

Yes, she liked to chew, to snap, to crunch lots of things, but she loved her celery the most of all.

Hooded, cozy, sniffing the cold, she stole into the world, shutting her door, licking her lips.

Imagining, picturing a crunch.

Her jaw seized, and it was usual.

Very normal.

Very typical.

The doctor said so, and the doctor knew medicine, and the doctor knew anatomy, and the doctor seemed to know physiology, though in her screenings, in her visits, she never climaxed.

Not once.

But she’d gotten close when he’d threatened to make her dead.

So she’d not live.

And that was enticing.

Sexy.

Very sexy, and she’d almost been so seduced that she’d orgasmed.

But then she didn’t cause, “It was wrong,” said the little voice in her head, so she hadn’t, but he did, and scrapped her out and flushed her out, and warned and threatened her, and said, “Spotting was normal, but to call the office if it didn’t let up after twenty-four hours. And remember that this is between the physician and patient. Confidentiality, yes?” before letting her on her way, with a hefty bill.

Her insurance didn’t cover it.

And so.

And so.

And so she chewed and ate and snacked because it satisfied her crying, and the light in her brain that screamed when she slept, and hummed when she woke. She chewed and chewed and found that the chewy wasn’t good enough. She needed something tougher.

Something with a break and a snap and a clean “no more coming together”.

Like her.

And she looked for it in chips, but it wasn’t there.

Not for long.

for long.

And the flavour, she found that flavour wasn’t something that she wanted, wasn’t something that she focused on.

The harsher, the more uninteresting the flavour, the better.

Because the texture was all that mattered.

She’d moved on from chewy.

Long ago, she’d moved along from chewy.

The slight give, the tugging, and meshing and pressing up between her teeth wasn’t something she wanted, wasn’t something she craved, wasn’t something she sought. In most foods, in most foods it was common, very common to have that be a portion of the meal.

The give of the softened crust of a mastered pie.

The tug and pull of taffy—oh, she liked the pull. But the tug? No, no, no, the tug couldn’t do, wouldn’t do, shouldn’t

do.

Of ribs… The chewing and gnawing on barbecue ribs.

Ah… That wasn’t it. Wasn’t it at all. There was too much of the chomping and the pulling and so little of the brash stopping on the bone. The bone.

The bone, because it stopped it.

Her teeth.

The bone, it stopped her teeth.

And she didn’t like the stopping. She didn’t like the absolute stopping.

The tempting, yes.

The tempting of the stopping was fine, because then, because then,

because then it was almost like when she saw the doctor, when she visited her cousin’s house, when her violin teacher came over and it almost stopped.

The almost was sweet.

It was sweet because it was almost like a promise.

A drab promise, a sparkling glitter faced promise that drew on too long and then didn’t become a butterfly or rainbow or unicorn or a stopping and the emptying of a room.

There wasn’t the feeling of being alone sans being owned and known.

And she’d wondered often what that was like, what it could be like, if she could know what that was like because it seemed too good to be true, and wanted to know what Harry Potter’s loneliness was like because it sounded lovely and romantic and she might, she might, might have a chance at seeing a rainbow if it were to happen that way.

But…

She walked to her car, hoody cozy, the air chill and ice, her heart chill and ice, her world chill and ice and the need to

crunch.

Fiddling in her pockets she pulled them out.

The keys.

She pulled out her keys and held them, and turned through them, feeling them

“Ha, ha! Tickle tickle! Now, you tickle me! No, not there. Right here!”

and their ridges and bumps and gives and edges.

One by one by one they fell, then again, and again, and for however long it took for her to riffle through and through those three keys, she did, until she found the car key and held it and pushed it

in the slot

of the car, then twisted to unlock the driver door, and slide inside, gasping for breath and shaking and crying and fixing her makeup in the mirror and cursing, repeating,

“Jus, jus’stop. Stop it. This isn’t it, it isn’t it, it isn’t. So stop it.”

until her nerves, still fiery, felt a tad more normal, a little more normal, and she backed out of the

driveway and drove down the road, not once looking at the trees.

And she took a left.

Then drove on

for a ways, then took a right while still cursing, then kept to the left fork and drove on.

It would be straight driving for a while, so she relaxed and kept driving.

And because the driving was looooooooooooooooong, she could think and not cry as much.

And not cry so much.

So she thought on the crunch, on the perfect crunch, and how she’d gotten there.

It was a path of some distance, of trial and error, of figuring

out

but eventually, as all things were supposed to, it reached a climax, a conclusion, a finish,

and since then, it has never been topped;

her love of celery.

So, she drove and drove, tilting her rear view mirror, looking back just above the back seat, but never far enough down to be absolutely sure what it was that…

Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy was the road.

“Just like celery ribs.” And she licked her lips and her mouth knew a smile, her eyes knew a smile for the first time in days, while her fingertips remembered the wrong.

Grabbing the bunches, fresh, crisp, full of colour—holding them on the board, the cutting board, after washing them, and cut cut cutting cutting each small stalk, cutting each small stalk, cutting each small stalk and putting it in a container.

“One, two, three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five…”

And she’d sealed the container and took it to her car, early, when the Sun was dead, freshly dead, and its gold wouldn’t wilt them, make them curl; to keep them cool and fresh for a cloudy day of driving.

Her seat jostled with every small bump.

But she kept driving, avoiding pot holes, the large holes as she meandered

“Yeah, good… Just like that. No! Keep your fucking head down! We’re almost back to your house, and you better not tell anyone anyth—”

further and further into the countryside, her vision straining in the falling dusk, in the falling dusk to see, to pick out her tree, her hill, her

road.

And then, then, then she did and she smiled and cried at the same time, loving and hating that she found it.

Gravel pressed and popped, like

the chewy, and she scraped her mouth with the rough taste buds of her tongue, trying to rid her mouth of the flavour she felt, the texture she tasted through the rubber of her wheels.

And she drove and on and she drove and on she drove and

stopped right next to the tree, her tree and flicked the latch and stepped out into the falling night and stretched and smiled while still crying, and sniffing the air of the windy fields where

“I thought she was dead… I don’t know! Go at her again, I guess, but just leave her here afterwards so the goddamn bu”

the wheat was dry and ancient and lovely spiced.

Walking to the passenger side rear door, she grabbed the latch and pulled, swinging the door wide, her jacket sleeve riding up, showing off her criss-cross, her brown to red attempts, old to new; all sincere. And reaching in, she grabbed her tote, her bag holding a container of

celery.

And while holding the container close to her, close to her, closer to her, she walked to the tree and pressed against it, and checking that the car was turned off, was silent, she dropped down, slid down the side of the tree.

Hands shaking, body shaking she popped off the lid of the container and looked up at the brightest, the most tenacious of the stars peeking through the veil of indigo, and reached in to grab a stalk.

Teeth clamping down, closing down, she rested on the taut feel, then bit and bit and bent, until the crunch was found and she smiled, rolling the tough in her mouth, crunching again and again, letting the taste of pennies roll about her tongue, dripping down her chin,

while she hated everything.

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