by Rose Gowen
She said: If you don't get one of those tomatoes for me I will die.
He said: They are luscious-looking, aren't they?
She said: No, you don't understand: if you don't get one of those tomatoes for me, I will climb to the roof of our building and I will dash myself and the child inside me to the ground.
So what choice did he have, but to climb the fence between the courtyard of their building and their neighbor's garden, with a plastic produce bag in one back pocket and a flashlight shoved in the other? He shined his light on the plants and picked the heaviest, ripest, most perfect fruit, and put it in his bag-could he have done otherwise? And having succeeded in his mission, how could he refuse to return to the garden the next night and the next?
Eventually, of course, he was caught. One night as he bent over a plant, the flashlight clutched under his chin, his bag held open in one hand, the other hand reaching for what his wife craved to the point of threatening suicide and murder, a voice said, What the hell are you doing? and he nearly pissed himself.
The woman who owned the garden was a terrible bitch, but she remembered her own pregnancy, years ago. If your wife has the jones for my tomatoes, take as many as you like, she said, But in return you must do something for me: I want you to give me back my youth.
What could he do? He asked her to go steady with him. He mailed foolish, badly spelled notes to her from work, and at night, in the garden, he tried to get his hands in her shirt. She allowed him to kiss her, and for a while everyone was happy.
Of course, it couldn't last. His wife's pregnancy came to an end when she gave birth to their baby. It was an awful scene; there was much screaming, and at a very bad moment she said, You did this to me, you prick. Everyone felt much better when the baby was born, and even though it was funny looking, he found that he loved it more than he thought he would. His wife lost all interest in tomatoes, and in any case the garden was dying. In fact, for several weeks he'd been bringing her tomatoes that were imported from Dutch greenhouses.
That only left the witch in the garden (the bitch, I mean). With all the excitement, he forgot her completely, but she could hear his baby crying from across the garden, the fence, and the courtyard, and she missed him.
About the author:
Rose Gowen is pale and wears corrective lenses. On the other hand, she cusses like a sailor.