BETRAYAL IN THE CANNING COLLECTIVE • by Jonathan Ellingson

It was just a glass jar.

“Did you say just?”

“Yeah. It’s just a jar of beets.”

“Just? There is nothing just about that jar. Nothing.”

“I brought some beets. Thought you would like them.”

“I did. We did. That’s not the point. You are, were, a part of this collective, this canning collective. There are some things you don’t do. You broke the covenant.”

“Covenant? Were?”

“Covenant.”

“Is that written down somewhere? Was I supposed to know this?”

“Yes. No, it’s not written down.”

“Are you listening to how this sounds?”

“Are you? Collective. You act like you didn’t betray us, all of us, and all this collective stands for. Collective.”

“Which is what exactly?”

“Collective. We do it together.”

“Is this jealousy? I don’t get it. It’s not like I was secret about it. I brought the beets here — I was thinking of you when I made them.”

“But you made them with someone else, someone not in the collective. And you were open about it, too open, like you weren’t even embarrassed.”

“My neighbor had all these beets, and she knew that I canned. You guys weren’t around. We weren’t going to have another meeting for another week, and well… I just said… I mean I just asked if she wanted to come over and then it sort of just happened.”

“Just just just just just just. If you are about to say that it didn’t mean anything, that it was just canning—”

“It was. And it’s done. I don’t think we’ll do it again. She didn’t really like it, honestly. ‘It takes all kinds’ is what she said about us, the collective, canning.”

“It’s hard for me to hear the word ‘us’ come out of your mouth right now.”

“I’m thinking I’m just going to go now. I might talk to you later. Probably not. Maybe this is it for us, for my involvement with the collective.”

“Just. That might be best. But leave the beets. They are delicious.”


Jonathan Ellingson lives in Oregon with his family. He is a writer, teacher, and word-hoarder.


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