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:iconjulietcaesar: More from julietcaesar

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literature by lelouch9-28

Words by semievilchicky

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Submitted on
September 20, 2009
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I picked you up from a gutter in radioactive Russia. Somehow, you had fallen out of the body-bag you were carried in, and I nearly kicked you further into the muck. I heard your pleas though, begging for my hands to pick you up. They ate a hole in the fabric and sent you rolling before my feet. In normal circumstances, that would never happen, but there is nothing normal about a world covered in grief.

You were a real piece of work. It's got to be expected after all, in these parts, but you were still fascinating all the same. For instance, you were covered in that signature brown dirt. Most of the time, it was brushed neatly before you were zipped up. But you'd been out too long in the open and it showed. Reptilian shoots punched through your skin and waved like a many-armed grotesque plant. They looked like bleached coral that decided to grow out of your flesh rather than in the nutrient-rich sea. As I ran my fingers over your suppurating sores, I wondered why I picked up the sort of filth like you. After all, we preferred you were forgotten while we led lives without the taint of nuclear destruction.

But we can't live ignorant lives forever.

It was your drought-ridden body that finally compelled me to shove you under a tap and splash water all over you. Unfeeling, I watched as your brown blood formed in my hands, slipping in between the cracks in my skin and hardening like the dirt you were buried in. I've spent too long in this place to know what it was like to taste your kind's suffering and to constantly recoil without anything changing. When I'd finished bathing you, I placed you in a soft bag and brought you back to the lab, safe from the radiation that was killing you.

I came to one conclusion: even plants like you suffer from "Chernobyl".

Back in the lab, I relaxed, even though my skin was burning where the cloth didn't quite reach. You quivered as I placed a hand in the bag and rolled you under the microscope. Under the lens, you seemed fine enough, just another mutant on the streets wearing the badge of the deformed. I knew that wasn't true. You were crying emotions: sorrow, suffering, anguish. They were woven into the fabric of your skin, glowing like the radioactivity that was tearing you apart. Blamelessly, you smiled at the lens glaring down at you, trying to make little fuss of your injuries.

I forced a smile on you with a well-placed slice. I had to.

Otherwise I would be crying forever at your injustice.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "You didn't deserve that."

You said nothing. And that was the terrible tragedy of it all.

You will never say anything, because the world has forgotten you.

I didn't want to do the next step, but I forced myself to. Slowly, I picked up a surgical tool and hovered it over you. It didn't seem that threatening; it was only made of plastic, and the only metal came from a thin blade at the top. But I could feel your terror at it. I could feel you tighten up and wrap that jacket of shame tighter around you, even though it was made of the sickness you wanted to cast off. If your newfound mouth could move, I could imagine it scream, "No, no, no!"

"I'm sorry," I said again, and sliced downwards.

You screamed as the first scrapings of skin fell away into oblivion.

I shut out your screams and kept peeling, even though it was killing me. The mutant growths on your skin went first, shredded as though they were put through a blender. Your cries of relief were short-lived as I tore again at your skin. Suddenly, secrets you tried your best to hide from me were spilling out before my eyes. And they weren't even secrets. They were just more stories of sickness and pain and anger. Staring at your yellow diseased flesh, I wanted to throw you out of the window and never walk out of the door again. Only duty kept me going, one slice, two slice, three slice...

Sometimes, on the smooth stretch of yellow, I would see black spots where you've been beaten by sticks and stones. They remind me of domestic abuse back at home, in a country where men don't usually beat wives. I know these beatings are worse, because they were dealt in the name of discrimination. You were to the outsiders nothing but inferior, second-class citizens, stupid enough to hang around a time bomb, sucking on the land's resources like a mother's teat and living an archaic life. Their attitude to you was summed up in just two sentences.

You're different. You deserve to be dead.

The more I peeled you, the more I saw the bruises. And the more I saw the bruises, the more I wanted to kill them.

I can't though.

The courts will never understand my motive.

You don't stick up for potatoes.

So I kept peeling, until you were smooth all over, yellow and dull under the flourescent lamps. You've stopped crying, and so have I. I dipped you in the pot, watching the water swirl around your naked body. Something lurched in my stomach.

No. I can't put you through more hell.

I took you out of the pot, but I knew it wouldn't make much of a difference. In the end, humans needed food, and my fridge had been empty for days.

In the end, humans like us set out to devour the world that they live on.

Starting with potatoes.
Entered in Best of 2009 Competition: [link]

Edit 12/12/09-13/12/09:

Firstly, thank you so much for the DD, `StJoan and =drop-asd.

Secondly, thank you EVERYONE who has commented, faved, done both or read this piece as the result of this becoming a DD. Thank you. I appreciate it in many ways that I cannot list here.

Thirdly, thank you to all my watchers and my friends who have supported me all this time for my work, and put up with my various quirks. I owe your comments, faves and even the handy critiques that I have received over the time I have spent on dA. Thank you once again.

Fourthly, just...THANK YOU.

EDIT: Made the piece a little more concise and tighter with some critique by the wonderful =Kira73, so some of the wording might be changed slightly. As a result, the wordcount has dropped from 971 words to 953 words. :o

Hmm, I seem to have some sort of affinity with creative pieces when it comes to peeling any form of vegetable. First Onion: [link] which is inspired by peeling onions, and now this piece, inspired by peeling potatoes. And both times, I'm discussing some sort of major issue using the vegetable as a metaphor.

I was peeling potatoes last Sunday (unwillingly) when the first line of this piece came strolling into my head and I ran to my room to write it down before I had even finished peeling the potato. =p And the rest of the ideas came flowing through my head as I peeled. So I started it last week, but then this went on the backburner for the rest of the week because I had to concentrate on my exams, and then I returned to it and finished it off in an hour and a half.

I had been studying a post-apocalyptic novel called "Children of the Dust" by Louise Lawrence in class which dealt with the effect of a nuclear blast on the world. That book was based on the terrible atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the effects it had on the surviving population, which included mutations. At the same time, I watched a couple of documentaries about nuclear disasters which included Hiroshima and the disaster I've been alluding to in this piece, Chernobyl. So what I saw just got put it into the words here.

Also, in a slight coincidence, I stumbled on Saturday 19th September's DD which was also about peeling something. :XD: [link] Read it if you haven't; it's a great piece that really uses peeling an orange as a literal thing as well as a metaphoric thing.

Wordcount: 953 words



(c) =julietcaesar aka Me

Please don't steal my work.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2009-12-12
Peeling a Potato-Shaped You by =julietcaesar is a powerful allegoric story. Through amibguous yet vivid descriptions, the author communicates an idea of terror, of social injustice and suffering. Though the epilogue diminishes the impression of violence, the disturbing association lingers. What I like most about the story is that it made me re-read it to check if it's as powerful without the element of surprise. It is. ( Suggested by drop-asd and Featured by StJoan )
Critique by HeartlessKai Dec 29, 2009, 6:27:27 PM
First and foremost, the point of view used is one of my favorite ways to write, and you definitely apply it well to the piece, giving it a more personal feel. I also like how it starts out seeming as if the focus is on a human, and over time a identity begins to form around this potato. It wasn't what I expected while reading the preview, and added a touch of humor to the work, especially in the end where this being's savior turns out to be it's undoing. Even if you didn't mean it, I sense hidden messages relating to human character here; the life of this potato being saved my someone who will eventually eat it. It says a lot to me about empathy and the human design. Keep up the good work; maybe you can even change people in the process.
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Mafia-Queen Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Student Photographer
This is stunning! You've taken something so ordinary, so normal and taken it to a whole new level! A level that I doubt many have thought of before!
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :)
Mafia-Queen Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012  Student Photographer
You're welcome! ^^
Enbi-to-Miruku Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Student General Artist
...I will never look at (and peel) potatoes the same again...
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
:lol: I never did as well.
Seraphyna-12105 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2011
.....lolwhat potato.
angelStained Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2011   Writer
This is a chilling, chilling stunner. I am going to feel some kind of... oddness towards potatoes for the next few months, and I love them. My head now hurts in a great way.
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
:lol: Trust me, after nearly two years of writing this, I still approach my potatoes in the kitchen with the story stuck in my mind. It was even more horrifying when I read this in context of the tsunami in Japan this year. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall, even if it did give you a bit of a headache. ^^;
angelStained Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2011   Writer
I definitely did enjoy it much. :B Oh, potatoes.
Wolfrug Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I liked this quite a lot! Then again, I have a particular weakness for everything post-apocalyptic , so...this was beautifully written, and despite assuming it wouldn't be a real person being peeled, the imagery was still quite disturbing ;)

If you want some more documentary-style Hiroshima coverage, I can't recommend John Hersey's 'Hiroshima' enough: it was written based on eye-witness accounts of survivors, mere years after the bombing. Check it out.

Good stuff!
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