Jason Webley


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The Story of Tomato

Tomato was the most beautiful woman in the world. She never knew her mother, but she never gave that much thought. She was the most beautiful woman in the world and there were always plenty of people around to shower her with attentions and affections.

Everyone loved tomato. Men came from far and wide to bury her in gifts, escort her to fancy dances and to invite her to join them in games of Lips and Legs.

Every card in the deck showed up at her door – The Seven of Clubs, the Two of Diamonds, The Six of Hearts. She enjoyed their attention and she certainly liked the games of Lips and Legs, but one by one she grew bored with each of them. The winds in her heart kept blowing the cards out the window. Time and time again- the diamonds got lost, the clubs were dropped and the hearts got broken.

Then one day, she saw a card that she had never seen before. He was handsome, but not too handsome. But there was something in his eyes felt familiar. His eyes were soft, gentle and deep almost not like a man’s eyes at all. He was the Jack of Spades.

The Jack of Spades didn’t bury her in gifts or invite her to fancy dances. But never in her life had she so much enjoyed the games of Lips and Legs. And he could make her laugh. Never in her life had she laughed so much; she would laugh until her cheeks were sore. And at the end of the day when she had grown weary from so much laughter, so many lips and so many legs, Tomato would curl up with her head on the Jack of Spade’s breast and listen to his heart beat as she fell asleep. Never in her life had she slept so peacefully.

Weeks went by, and still Tomato had not grown bored of the Jack of Spades. Other cards still came to visit her, but there never seemed to be time left over to play Lips and Legs with anyone else.

Besides, it was almost Tomato’s twenty-second birthday, and in her village it was tradition for the women to marry at the age of twenty and two. The other cards hadn’t given up completely, but they all saw the way Tomato looked at the Jack of Spades, and pretty much everyone, Tomato included, assumed that soon they would be married.

But on the day of the party, the Jack of Spades was nowhere to be seen. She tried to hide her disappointment and told herself, ‘he is just planning a big surprise for me!’ But the hours kept creeping by, the lump in her heart kept getting bigger and still the Jack of Spades did not appear. After the last guest had left, she stood alone in her empty house, looking out the window every few minutes, still half hoping to see him coming up the path.

Finally when she knew he was not coming back that night or any other night, she lie down to sleep, for never in her life had she felt so tired. But sleep would not come. She needed the familiar sound of the Jack of Spade’s heart to sing her to sleep. And after tossing and turning for a few hours, she finally got up and walked into the garden.

As she walked, she began to cry. Never in her life had she cried so hard. Her whole body shook with grief. She cried and cried and cried, and finally she realized that she had cried too long. Too long to be crying about just one man. The heartbreak must go deeper than that. Suddenly she felt as if she was falling and she got a funny feeling like she was remembering something from long, long ago. And she realized who it was that the Jack of Spades had reminded her of. And why she had always slept so well while listening to the beating of his heart. The Jack of Spades reminded her of her own mother. A mother who she never met, who she was separated from at birth. A mother who had probably never taken Tomato up in her arms. But somewhere way back she remembered the sound of her mother’s heartbeat from when she was growing in her belly.

Just then Tomato noticed that she was standing in front of a tomato vine. It was late October, so most of the tomatoes were rotten or shriveled. But right in the center was the most perfect tomato you could imagine –the most beautiful tomato in the world. She held it in her hand and began to cry again. Even more deeply and more madly than before. Her sobs shook her spine like an earthquake.

And after a few hours she realized she had again cried too long. Too long to be crying about just one man and just one mother. The heartbreak must go even deeper, she thought. And again she felt like she was falling and remembering something from even farther back. Just then she heard a voice that startled her because it was coming from her own mouth. “This entire world was separated from its mother at birth” said the voice. And Tomato didn’t quite understand what that meant. But she knew it was the truth.

She wiped the tears away from her eyes, and concentrated. Like someone who is making a wish or a prayer.

Then she closed her eyes. And bit into the tomato.