Running my hand over the Blitzer Automatic Juicer’s sleek body, I look for hardened crystals of sugar I missed the last time I washed it, but I don’t find any. The sound it makes when I turn it on is like static, but I know the complex mechanisms inside are precise, making fine work of fruit and leaves. Some say it’s not efficient—that it’s an expensive way to stay healthy, but that’s not why I keep it. There’s something cruel but beautiful in the way it silences the house, my thoughts.
The dean assigned me a project and a partner to work with: Bea. The dean’s intentions are not subtle. She thinks we’ll have to get along—but I resent her plan—so obvious—to get the two enemies to work together. Bea will never let that happen, but I need a promotion.
When the doorbell rings, Bea’s all smiles. She always is, at first. I take her coat and offer her a drink of fresh-pressed juice. And when I do, she spots the stainless-steel Blitzer on the counter and tells me that juicers aren’t very economical, since they only produce dribs and drabs of nutrients. It’s better to take a vitamin, she says, or actually eat fruits and vegetables. She never stops talking, arguing. But I’ve already sliced fresh pineapple, strawberries, lemon basil leaves, and pears. They’ve been carefully washed, smelling fragrant and fresh. I feed each ingredient into the mouth at the top and press down on the start button, listening to the churning, slicing contraptions whirring inside, mincing and squeezing the fruit, the juices of which pour through the nozzle into the clear, plastic pitcher on the other side, frothy with foam. I love how the scratching sound of the machine drowns out Bea’s voice as she tells me my proposal won’t work.
On the other side of the Blitzer Automatic Juicer, the fibrous flesh gathers, all pink and green—all soft and vulnerable.
“You see,” Bea says, pointing at the pitcher, “it took so much fruit just to make that one serving.”
I mix the juice in the pitcher and pour her a glass, which she takes to the living room-dining-room table, where we’ll eventually work on the proposal, the one she thinks she should write herself.
From the garage, which is just off the kitchen, I grab the plastic composting container—black from rot—and I place the bits of red and green pulp inside, smoothly sealing the lid. Bea, who can still see me from the open-plan design of the house, looks disgusted, but the composting container is one of my favorite parts of the process. Eventually, everything inside will be deposited somewhere else, but for now, I get to touch the parts the juicer pressed so violently, elegantly—as if they were whole sentences only I could understand.
To get the bits from the plastic contraption on the other side of the Blitzer Automatic Juicer, I have to scrape, with a knife—one more blade to pick the fruit clean and finish the job. If I were to describe my favorite workmate, it would be the Blitzer Automatic Juicer. Together, we do fine work.
At the table, Bea sits, all prickly, but underneath the flesh is soft, I suspect.
“I just don’t know how this is going to work. I mean, who would even take this class? Who would teach it?” she says, as I place the knife, which is still dripping with strawberry blood, on the table. In my head, when she speaks, I imagine the hum of the Blitzer Automatic Juicer instead and how soothing it is—and how I yearn to hear it again. Hear it grind out flesh.
“You know,” I say, “there’s nothing more satisfying than using the chute to press down on the things you put inside a juicer. Just a little pressure—so satisfying.”
Bea takes a sip of her juice. “I can taste the lemon basil,” she says.
Which means she has sifted all of the flavors through on her tongue to find the one that stands out the most—to tell me the juicer has not done its job. Effectively, she insults me in my own home. But if I take the bait and argue that the juicer has carefully layered the flavors so that one might stand out, but then, in the next sip, another flavor artfully settles over that one, she would say that’s not an efficient way to enjoy a beverage—and then there we’d be, back on square one, where she is right, and I am wrong.
“I’d love for you to try the juicer, just once. It’s super fun,” I say.
A look of curiosity passes over her face, quickly, as if she were trying to resist, but she gives in. She pulls her chair back and walks over to the Blitzer Automatic Juicer, its body shining under the overhead lights.
I gather more strawberries, some blueberries, and bananas, and cut them up. Then, I feed them into the Blitzer Automatic, and I hand her the chute.
“Stand here,” I say, and tell her to use the chute to push down on the ingredients—and when she does, I go deep into the flesh of her back, rhythmically with the knife, humming in time with the pulse of the juicer, which drowns out her screams, transforming her into a dim-witted tomato. And when I’m finished, I extract Bea’s heart and place it in the mouth of the machine and squeeze it dry. When the fibrous tissues collect in the contraption on the left, I scrape them out and place the prickly remnants of Bea’s heart into the composting container, where it mingles with other parts pressed so thoroughly, there’s no doubt who has the final word.