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As time passed we that were left became less than pleasant. Not just bad company for the lack of edifying conversation, but the smell and look of us. The wrinkles were bad enough (folds of skin curling over in sagging waves) but the smell of us too! At least now there were fewer of us there was more room for each to air out a bit, but the fewer of us there were the more likely it was you would get picked next and the increasing fear of the inevitable did nothing to improve our rapidly stinking decay.

I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating that the conversation grew just as stale as our bodies. It became a kind of ritual with us. Each time another was plucked from the stem someone would ask whether all this waiting was really worth it just for a little more time attached to the vine. Then another would reply “it beats plucking out early!” and the argument would draw in each of us remaining until the whole thing came full circle. None of us came to a point.

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