Sooo, this is a piece I wrote a while back, but did some major revisions on recently. The changes were definitely needed and I’m somewhat happy with the results. It’s a work in progress though, as usual. I’m still thinking about changing the ending completely, because I’ve heard it’s somewhat unclear to some, but I didn’t think so.
I was a dull red-orange and had yellow in some spots. Ever since a seedling I had been ashamed of my heritage, or lack there of. They didn’t even pick me at the peak of my tomato hood, they plucked me days early so that I’d last long enough in the store to be bought. I felt pathetic and may as well be rotting, because none of this would stir her to even look across towards my part of the rack—the cheap one. She was heirloom; able to be used in magnificent ways I’d never dreamed of. What a proper tomato would take for granted. I was nothing, yellow and on the verge of rotting and most likely wouldn’t even be sold, but tossed away in just a few short days. In the center of my seeds though, I still had hope, and a zing of happiness flowed through my juices when a young girl started plucking tomatoes around me; trying to find a cheaper alternative like myself verses $3.99 a pound like Angel. That’s what I call her. I knew her name must be something wonderful like Angel, so that is what I called her until the most unlikely day that I should meet her. The young girl plucking non-heirloom tomatoes was taking her time with each one. She must really be hard up. If she were to choose an heirloom like Angel, she’d have bought the first one she picked up. Oh my sweet Angel, what is a deplorable yellow turd like me to do?
Then I floated up off the soft mushy pile of other crappy tomatoes and up to her nose. Her hot breath warmed my shameful juices. I used all my might to flex those juices and the meat that enclosed them. Oh pick me, pick me, please oh pick me! I was spinning around on the soft pads of her hands, her thumb tickling me with each rotation.
At the last rotation she placed me gently into a green bag. The girl was indeed purchasing me, me, the red-orange and some yellow, pathetic, on the verge of rotting in a few days—me. In my see through bag I could still see the plump shiny bright red Angel clearer than I ever had. She stood out from the other noble heirlooms in her beautiful glory. If this would be the last time I could look upon Angel’s beauty I was certainly soaking it all in. I was the happiest little tomato ever grown.
The girl was standing talking with a young man, and I began listening to their conversation.
“Honey, are you really going to buy those tomatoes to save money, splurge tonight and get those,” he said. He was pointing at Angel. In a perfect world she would keep me still, and choose Angel out of all the others. How could she not, she was the best!
“hmmmm,” she said. Her face was staring down at me now, her lips pursed in thought. “Just trying to save a buck,” she said. I watched the girl kiss the side of his face.
He stared back adoringly into her eyes. Were they in love? It seems they could be, but what does a non-heirloom tomato like me know? I kept staring at Angel as I continued to eavesdrop. “Come on, don’t worry so much, food isn’t something you skimp on, ok?” he said. He turned towards Angel and plucked her out of the $3.99 a pound pile. “Here, get two of these, and make up the difference with those cheap ones, ok?” he said.
The girl’s face lit up in delight, no doubt an obvious lover of food. “Oooooh, those look soooo good, yum.” She took Angel from his hand and inhaled her perfect scent deeply. After a little shimmy of delight she plucked the second best one and put them in the bag. Yes, Angel was in my plastic bag with me—me!
And off the people strode with us, to wherever that may be.
Thoughts scrambled through my center and in those short moments we were touching, every word I ever dreamed of telling her disappeared. If a tomato could shake, I surely would be. My thoughts were jammed and nothing remotely coherent came out of me at my first attempt.
“E’hem, what was that?” she said. She sounded sweet, just as I had imagined. I was frozen and minutes must of have passed before I replied to her.
“I was, I…I, I just wanted to talk to you… and-a-and,” I said. Useless, I was shriveling with each word. She began laughing. It was… it was enchanting, and I almost thought she was singing. It was the most serene sound I’ve ever heard, and it instantly relaxed me to the core.
“Well go ahead and talk to me. I won’t shun you because you’ve no pedigree, silly,” she said.
“Really?” I said.
“Yes really. What is your name?”
“I-It’s Troy, what’s your name?” I asked. This was it, it would either be fantastical as I’d imagine or a big fat disappointment. Would it make any difference to me?
“Agnessa,” she said. I didn’t speak. I was daydreaming, and all the daydreams I ever dreamed about Agnessa flowed through me. Agnessa, was the most beautiful name in the world, it had to be, for it belonged to her. Agnessa, Agnessa, Agnessa, Agnessa.
“I-I-It’s b-beautiful,” I said. My juices felt as though they were boiling at this point. The red-orange nothing, was having small talk with Agnessa. I felt a surge rush through me. Could it be she saw past heritage and into me?
“Agnessa, you’re the most beautiful thing in my world,” I said. I was resting against her and I had no fear in me now. In my short existence I would have no regrets, even if I didn’t know how long my existence actually was.
“Well you’re quite brave, aren’t you? I must say… it’s rather enthralling.” I could feel her looking me at me. I looked back and tried my best to look robust; it wasn’t easy. She must be twice the size of me. It was glorious, and my core melted only for her. I dreamed of us together in a lovely tomato sauce intertwined together. Then I dreamed of the girl planting our seeds together; wouldn’t that be the most glorious thing ever!? We would have an eternity to be together. I dreamed of what it would be like to have an eternity to grow and do it all over again, with her?
Quickly, it occurred to me that she was still staring at me and I let my dreams flee back inside me. “Thank you,” I said.
“You’re welcome!” she said. She began laughing again and I laughed too. “What do you think is on the menu tonight?” she asked.
“I don’t care so long as I’m with you, Agnessa. Perhaps a tomato sauce, wouldn’t that be lovely, like you…” I said.
Where had this sudden burst of bravery sprouted from, I had no clue. Any tomato in their right mind would never expect it from one as sad as me. To be honest, tomato sauce is the only thing I’ve heard of. What else was there? I was far too uncultured to answer her question fairly, but it wouldn’t stop me. I wonder?
“What would you prefer?” I asked. This was my chance. I wasn’t only conversing with a pure line tomato that I was in love with, but I was stepping my boundaries. She would have a wealth of knowledge passed down in her line; knowledge I should be shunned from. I knew nothing, I knew of tomato sauce from the roma tomatoes that sat next to us, but that was all. All I learned from them was that I would never be tomato sauce; that it was a privilege of theirs alone. I completely agreed with them. Who would eat tomatoes like us, all mushy and gross?
“I never truly thought of what dish I’d be in, I just knew I was magnanimous. At least that’s what the plants taught us,” she answered. She seemed reserved and sheltered to the beauty she had. How could she have no idea how wonderful she was? Her plants had even been teachers to them; our plants were deaf and mute, knowing nothing. I was dazzled by this new information. There was more to our world than I’d even imagined. Could I possibly hear more?
“Please Agnessa, will you tell me more of your holy world?”
“Heh, I’d hardly call it holy, aren’t you darling, well if you must know, I will tell you,” she said. She paused for a moment.
“Well first, I’ll say that I come from a long line of tomato’s called Nightingale, due to our ability to make humans sing. The first Nightingale was grown in a small well kempt garden tended by a group of humans. The first human that decided to cherish our seeds and name us was a young girl, Alice. All this is passed down so you must forgive any inconsistencies.”
She gave a small chuckle. “It’s really not that interesting.”
The other Nightingale tomato chimed in. I completely forgot there were others in the bag with us, and I froze horrified.
“What do you think your doing? These are secrets meant for our pure line only, stop this!” He didn’t sound as angry as he did surprised, he must think much more of himself than she did.
“Don’t presume in telling me what to do, we’ll soon be chopped and consumed and they won’t save his seeds. This won’t leave this bag and you know it. Besides, what’s wrong with him, he’s far more interesting than YOU,” she spat.
Another tomato interrupted, one from my rack. “Aye! Don’t be thinkin’ you’re betta’ than us chump, let the lady speak to him if she wants. Whaddo we got to look forward to, we ain’t got nothin like you; no line to remember us.”
The pompous tomato was silent—shocking.
“Ga’ head darling, keep talkin if ya don’t mind,” he said politely.
The soft hush of anticipation followed, baiting her to speak. Her humbleness dissolved my anxiety. She was luminous, a beacon I knew I would worship until I had no consciousness, and beyond that I knew she would be my empyrean.
“The garden was secluded and small, and the stories passed down from plant to tomato and the next and the next said the family grew their garden for us alone. Alice turned into Beth turned into Lela turned into and etc… etc… Each one caring for us with the same heart the first one had. They even talked to us, it helps us grow you know. So I understand why where you come from, you wouldn’t be much bigger than a kiwi; your kind just isn’t happy. It breaks my heart even more to see there isn’t anything wrong with you at all aside from not being cared for properly.”
“Ain’t that somethin'” said the other small tomato.
“Amazing, a garden just for you, and they talk to you? It makes perfect sense to me, that they would care so much for you, perfect…” I said.
She laughed softly and grew a little more red than before.
“And did you ever speak back to them Agnessa?” I asked.
“Well, there was one story, more like a myth to us, that there was once a little girl among our caretakers who could understand us. It was said that one of the more deviant Nightingale’s during the time spoke back to her. They say he grew on the edge of the garden where she often played. I’m not sure I believe that though. Can you imagine, talking to them?!” she said.
I couldn’t imagine any human speaking to me, but I knew if I ever had the opportunity, I would answer them too. At that moment, I heard people talking and we we’re moving violently until we all rolled out onto something hard. I was upside down once I stopped and watched Agnessa barrel into me turning me right side up. She laughed her sunny laugh side by side with me, and far enough from the others that we felt alone.
“Well, it won’t be long now Troy. I’m so happy that I met you,” she said warmly.
“If they do grow your seeds, will they remember me?” I asked.
“Oh yes yes, any tomato that is lucky enough to have their seeds chosen will transfer all memories to the plant. Then the plants share the stories to the tomatoes, you see? The lucky ones stay in Alice’s garden. I would have given anything to stay there. It was sunny and warm, and perfectly tranquil. The tulips bordered the tomato garden, and the dogs would often trample them. We would all laugh at the old one chasing them around with a stick. ”
She hushed. It was apparent she was deep in thought. Could my love be homesick? I let the stillness carry on, permitting her to mourn the loss of her home. Her bright stem wilted a smidge, then perked up again as she spoke again.
“Ah well, if I was never sold I would have never met you, and I’m grateful for that. Oh no, here they come! Must it end so soon?”
“Angessa I have to say this now. I love you, I’ll love you forever, to where ever forever takes us, and…” I lost my voice at that moment. I had no words once my skin broke open. I felt myself in a million different directions all at once, and other pieces were landing around me. It was her, I could feel her tender juices mixing with my own; bliss. I heard a loud rattling sound, and there was nothing.
Once conscious, I saw nothing but a spec, tiny and white. Was I inside them? And then the spec grew larger. It was the only object I could see, I had no clue if it was in my imagination or real. I grew annoyed, wondering if this is what my kind had to look forward to after being gobbled down. I was more worried about Agnessa; it would break her heart if this were her fate. It couldn’t be for my sweet angel.
The spec swelled to double its original size, but it didn’t stop there. I realized it wasn’t a spec; it was a window opening wider and wider. First all I could distinguish was green. Was my afterlife green, green what? It was growing faster now, and the picture started to become clearer, it was the foliage of plants, I was sure of it. The window was wide open now and the scene was lucid. Could this be? Then sound perforated me with a vengeance. I heard the dogs, and an old lady screaming. I heard the plants and a hundred other tomatoes talking all at once. A small child was talking to a tomato on the edge of the garden boundaries. It was the same garden Agnessa had described. This was life after being eaten!? By Golly! All at once all the sounds ceased and I only heard one voice. The same divine voice that was and would infinitely be my sublime delight.
“Hello Troy,” she sang.
And here I was, graced in her celestial dream, eternally.