Gussey scowled at the piece of Meatolli™, dangling from his fork. A globs of dripping grease oozed from it, splashing atop the pile. “We’re supposed to live off this stuff?”
Helen sighed, knitting the bark on her brow. “You promised you’d try it. The doctor warned you about your low cholesterol, and I’m willing to do this every step of the way.”
“I’d rather have a salad,” he said, muttering.
Helen ignored him, taking another bite. She put on a good show, but he knew she hated it as much as him. The Meatan lifestyle was just not for him. “Can’t we just transition? I bet this would be good with some bean paste.”
“No,” Helen said. “No plant products. It’s more than a health thing, it’s a mindset. The more I think about it makes sense. We photosynthesize just like the lesser plants, it’s barbaric to eat our own kind.”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh come on. Everyone knows they make up that evolution garbage. I’m no houseplant. Gussey reached over, running a hand through his wife’s silky foliage. “Let’s just forget the whole thing.”
“Absolutely not. I care about you, Darling. You’ll waste away if you keep this up.”
Gussey scowled. “You’re right, I guess it’s not so bad. At least we’re not eating bacon five days a week. That stuff is foul.”
“Perhaps so,” she said, donning a playful smike. “It really helps build on the fatty tissue. I haven’t heard any complaints in the bedroom since we started this.”
True enough. Both of them had gotten considerably cozier, perfect for the dropping temperatures. Meatolli™ was an easy meal, prepackaged and easy to sear. It was unsettling the way it turned a murky brown from pink as it cooked. Nothing beat the real thing though; a crisp and tasty stalk of Broccoli really hit the spot.
“I just hate how the ads make it seem like it tastes exactly the same. They’ll never get this right. Not in a million years. It’s just not a meal without a healthy portion of fruit.” He drummed a fist against his trunk. “It’s making me thirsty just thinking about it. I’m still allowed to drink water right? I’m not going to get a citation from PETAL am I?”
“As long as there’s no juice in there you’ll be fine. You could always drink a tall glass of milk. I bought cow and goat flavored.”
“Water is fine.” He stood and made his way to the fridge. The stale smell of animal carcass pelted him in his face. Blegh. Better get used to it I guess.
“If you think it’s too plain, we could always pour some gravy on top, or cheese sauce. The versatility is really quite good. It’s in the Tupperware on the top shelf.”
“What I could really go for is a raspberry glaze.”
“My sister plucks those things from her chin every month. Come one Gussey, at least try to understand. This is how it’s supposed to be. Animals are there to be eaten.”
He pulled out two bottles of water and plucked a container from the top shelf, settling on the cheese sauce— a foul thick concoction without any hint texture. No seeds, no seasoning, just coagulated animal goo. A few seconds in the Microwave and a good stir made it looks halfway edible at least.
Helen poured a little bit on top and took a bite. “It’s um… creamy. It’s not bad.” She pushed it away with a sigh. “I think it just made it worse.”
Gussey smiled, kissing the part of her leaves on her forehead. “We’ll get used to it. We’ll be glad we did it after we breed.”
She nodded quietly. “About that… I— well I’ve been feeling sluggish in the morning so I went to the Gardener. I hope you’re not upset.”
“Upset about what?”
“I’m spawning, dear. You weren’t exactly being careful while pollinating for the past few weeks.”
“I… I’m going to be a father? Why would I be mad?”
“Well with everything at work and the doctor telling you to quit Vegetables cold-tofu, I thought it would stress you out.”
“Nonsense.” Gussey said, grinning. “You just made me the happiest Dryad in the world. Let’s give this a chance— a real chance to make it work— for all three of us.”
Helen let out a sigh of relief and pulled her plate closer. “I’m glad to hear you say that. For the record, it’s more like the five of us. It’s hard to tell for sure.”
Gussey slumped in his chair, swallowing back a lump in his throat. Three or more? He poured a healthy serving of cheese over his Meatolli™. Something told him he’d need all the nutrition he could get.