about the author

Michael Chaney’s writing can or will soon be found in NANO Fiction, Hobart, apt, Storm Cellar, Corvus, and Callaloo. He lives in Vermont and teaches for the English department of Dartmouth College. He blogs at michaelalexanderchaney.com.

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Michael Chaney

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No it doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel pain anymore. Not after juicing. You should try it. Except, go slower than we did. It should have started right after the wedding. Boxes of knives and toasters spike the happy meter only so far. Elaine found it first. She might have sang out “Score!” or something simulating high energy. We didn’t use it for months though. When I look back now, I can’t help tasting all the wasted endorphins. That sluggish half life. The dregs of drowsy living. A putrid waste. We were fools not to try it. I still remember the first day we did. Basic churn of fruit and greens. Kale, grapes, a few apples, some carrots, a whole lemon. The lemon is what did it. That’s the thing you could feel acidulating your veins with liquid electricity. I looked in the mirror expecting to see my tongue light up. We started doing those every day. Then, instead of meals. A month or two into it we wondered about the limits of the machine. Ten thousand micron steel rotary blades of love at an RPM that could spin open a wormhole right in your goddamn kitchen if you let it. It was only a matter of time before we thought about it. I mean, that thing could extract a peach pit. Swirling the planetary surface of fruitstone into a sledge, embers in your fingertips, an alchemy of the tongue. What else could it liquefy? We put all sorts of things into it. Things the pamphlet told us never to try: peanut butter, avocado, cheddar cheese, whole fists of deli meat. Then we got thirsty for rarer syrup—for photos and paperbacks and elementary school dittoes; crayons and hay, bowling shoes and grandmother’s purse, pine cones and innertubes, sparklers with fresh money and capgun smoke. We became explorers of sleeping waters, divining wine corks and garden tools. Words fail the exhilaration. Jitters swelled to fits so violent we knocked loose from shelves new subjects to taste—crystal candleholders and clocks all salted and mercury spiced, thickening the face, quicksilver in the limbs. I jumped in place and couldn’t stop. Elaine went so high her head released a ceiling fan and armfuls of plaster, which we fished into the machine in chunks and sly laughter. The plaster spigoted a stream that was blood-black and oil-slow. That’s maybe when it dawned on us to try it on ourselves. Elaine went first, insisting on the vestigial status of toes. The color of the batch was bleached clamshells and its bitters were mentholated, cold. The jumping that followed was legendary. Even as wadding came loose from her feet, making her slip on the piebald linoleum we’d had weeks before, Elaine sang the body athletic, breathing a symphony, her eyes an ebbed tide. In the ecstatic math that followed, we discovered the body’s surpluses—how many of its unquenched morsels come in twos like Noah’s animals in procession, the prelude to a flood.

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