|The Sad History of the
by Ann Leckie
Matthias Fenstermacher loved onions, but
hated slicing them, and so he labored to produce a tearless variety. His
first attempt was indeed tearless--instead of weeping, the slicer was
overcome by fits of uncontrollable giggles. The potential hazard was
Fenstermacher's next onion, the product of ten more years of careful work,
gave cooks a gentle regret for past pleasures--a good deal more manageable
than hilarity armed with a knife. Fenstermacher sent these to market,
with great success. He became a very wealthy man.
The first sign of trouble came when a preacher discovered that
Fenstermacher's onion grown in a very acid soil produced violent
repentance for past sins. By the time the congregation realized that the
local spiritual revival was the product of Allium and not The
Almighty, the preacher had disappeared along with the generous donations
of his former flock.
The result was hysteria. Whole crops were plowed under. Produce sellers
were attacked in the street. Any onion was suspect. Could onions induce
murderous rages? Topple governments? Lead nations to war? Well-bred
maidens shuddered to think their virtue might be threatened by the rumored
Onion D'Amore. Then the injuries from adolescent onion slicing parties
began appearing in emergency rooms--Fenstermacher's first onion had
By popular acclaim, onions were declared illegal and (except for a few
surreptitious sprouts tended by devoted onion fanatics) eradicated.
Garlic, shallots, and scallions narrowly escaped, but were no longer
entirely trustworthy. Every one of Fenstermacher's onions was rooted out
and burned, his notes and greenhouse destroyed, and Fenstermacher himself,
whose only intention had been to spare humanity the stinging tears of
Allium cepa, died of grief.