Warm bodies press against one another, sweat mixing, dripping, as they work. Red slicks across fingers, dark as blood, as paring knives slice through to well seasoned thumbs. Too many bodies in the kitchen, too close, too much in the heat of summer. August habits never lost. Little fingers pick and pull, splashing in the cool water in the corner. Never shushed, for this is the time for raucous.
These women, of this family, gathered to do the annual deed. Slaughter of the seasons fruit. Carefully mix, measure poor. Boil. Don’t forget to boil that pure, lest poison come for our children, like in Grandmothers’ lore.
Keep going, fingers numb, tastes dull, senses overwhelmed by the heat and the bodies pressed in. Keep going before they turn. Harvest and wash and carve and pour.
Stir, spin and boil. Stay away from the pot, it might explode they tell you, little fingers in the cold water. But now, young woman, elbows up, man that machine. Stir before the burn, little splatters etched forever in your forearms. No time to stop, no time to wash. Stir, spin and boil.
Fill them, before all is lost. Ignore the fact your fingers burn, hold tight, spin tight, ease in, before it’s time. Then lock the great machine. Once too young to oversee, a little gage. But now you read.
It’s jelly season.
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This flash fiction was inspired by Daily Promt’s The Heat Is On.