GENRE: YA - Speculative Fiction
Quinn has escaped from an enclosed society in which all food is synthetic. Kalan's family is helping her to detox, and she has just eaten her first taste of real chicken. Kalan offers her a cup of herbal tea to calm her upset intestines.
“I don’t think I can drink that,” I say. Another wave of cramping hits me, and I groan.
“Sip it,” Kalan says. “It’ll make you feel better.”
I take the mug from his hands and hold it to my lips. “What’s in it?”
“Just drink it.”
I sip the tea; it’s minty and flowery and things I can’t describe.
“Your body doesn’t have enough of the natural enzyme needed to digest the meat,” Kalan says.
“But I’ve—” I stop myself. I haven’t been eating meat my whole life. It wasn’t meat. “Why don’t I have the enzymes?”
“You’ve been taking synthetic enzymes as part of your daily meds,” Kalan says. “And you haven’t eaten real meat. The only chance your body has had to manufacture the enzyme is the bits of cheek you swallow every day.”
I stop mid-sip. “Bits of cheek?”
Kalan smiles. “Cheek cells. We all swallow them daily.”
“You enjoy torturing me.” I swallow more tea; it’s already soothing the pains in my intestines.
“Actually—” He looks away, suddenly interested in a collection of socks and shirts Lydia has left on the table for me. “I wanted to say I was sorry.”
“For torturing me?”
“For bugging you about Troy.”
“Oh.” I bury my face as deeply in the mug as I can, pretending to drink longer than I need to.
“I guess I really don’t know much about your life, anyway.”
“Well, you wouldn’t.”
“Yeah.” Kalan finally looks at me. “But I’d like to.”