Roots

The oak table creaked under the weight of food, as Ruth placed another laden plate in front of Josiah. ‘Drink’ he demanded, picking up a hunk of beef and shoving it in his mouth. The curtains had been drawn, yet the sun creeped in at the edges, teasing her with hope.

Ruth picked up the empty jug and glanced at the front door, before tiptoeing through the dark halls into the kitchen. The bottles of red wine sat in front of the window and she gazed out at the fields of vegetables and fruit before pouring some into the jug. From a cupboard she took out a glass bottle and looked at the red contents glistening at the bottom. She tipped the remaining liquid into the jug of wine and sloshed it around.

Quietly she returned to the table and reached over his bulging stomach to pick up the goblet. Josiah snatched the jug and gulped down the wine; it dribbled down his chin, mixing with the blood from the beef making his face look like it had been beaten. She stood there staring, as Josiah wiped his mouth with his sleeve and grinned, ‘Don’t even think about it’ he mocked. He held out his hand, palm facing upwards, then quickly closed it, and started to roar with laughter.

She sat down on a stall in the corner and watched him gorge himself. Occasionally, he’d moan and hold his stomach, lean over and violently throw up in a bucket. It would splash back on his face and his clothes, but he’d just sit up and continue to eat. As he fed, she’d glance down at his legs and his feet, but then smile sweetly every time he looked up.

The sun set and candlelight was now the only light illuminating the room, it cast a gentle glow on the monstrous scene. The arms of the chair dug into his side, supporting the bulge of his stomach. Suddenly, Ruth rose from the stall and strode over to the door, causing Josiah to spit out a mouthful of food, ‘What do you think…’

She opened the door and Josiah stood and tried to move, but was held fast. He looked down at his legs to see his skin split, blood oozed down the roots that protruded from his flesh and dug down into the floor, ‘Tomato feed’ she smiled, ‘Tomato feed and wine, you didn’t feel a thing’.

Ruth took a box of matches as Josiah stood there, slack jawed and wide eyed – she lit the curtains and closed the door.

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