The day before, Allister decided to fall in love with that tomato.
Well, in the very least, he would try to fall in love with that tomato.
Now, before you huff and puff or guffaw or guff and huff or puffaw (or any other combination), let me state for the record that if there ever was a tomato that a human could fall in love with, the tomato that sat on Allister’s kitchen table would have been it.
It was a very beautiful tomato. And some would say, “Oh yes, it is certainly beautiful- for a tomato.” But, this is not what I mean and certainly not what Allister thought. The tomato on his kitchen table was beautiful- not for a tomato, not for a fruit or vegetable, not for any particular thing at all. The tomato was very beautiful because it was beautiful and that was it.
It was lush and plump. Savory and smooth. And subtly glowed a fervent red warmth.
And Allister lit a candle on the table and sat with the tomato. He gazed into its skin, traced the soft ridges with his index finger, and tried to transfer the love and desire he wanted to feel in his heart into the tomato’s flesh.
But, the tomato did not change. And, Allister too, felt no change in him. There was no love, no desire for the tomato. There was only the desire to make himself love the tomato. It was a task, a mission. And, even after the morning had melted the night’s candlewax down, Allister sat at the table and waited to fall in love with the tomato.
The candle flame flicked one last flick and disappeared and there remained no love.
Allister felt he could not give up just yet. After all, having had only a single night together, they barely knew each other. So, over breakfast, Allister recounted his life to the tomato. He chewed his eggs and bacon and poured forth all that was inside him to his tomato. He told the tomato how his mother often smelled like lavender and his father like pipe smoke and how they would hold hands when they walked down a street. And the nostalgia wafted so viscerally and pure that Allister felt the need to look to the tomato and stroke the prickly soft down of its green stem.
And, before the moment became awkward, he brought his hand back to his coffee mug’s waiting handle. And he laughed slight enough to notion towards the awkward of the previous moment, but confident enough to keep the room from falling into deafening silence. Quickly, Allister moved to another story from his past. He told his tomato about the first girl he ever had feelings for. He was seven and her first name was Minnie. Allister could no longer remember her last name. But, he remembered that seeing her for the first time birthed butterflies and sent them swirling throughout his stomach. And he remembered quite clearly that when Minnie introduced herself, Allister could not remember his own name so he punched her in the stomach. And he remembered they both burst into tears at the same time and that they never spoke again.
Allister sipped his coffee and giggled. How funny it was. Allister looked to the tomato for a response and, then, sipped his coffee and giggled again. And each draining sip built Allister’s giggle to a laugh and, then, to a roar. He pounded his fist, his face turned tomato red, his back arched, and his eyes watered with tears. The tears came from the laughter, but Allister was also suddenly aware that he was saddened that he could no longer remember Minnie’s last name. And the tears built for laughter became weighted with somber undertones so heavy that his ducts could no longer hold them. So, Allister folded over from his abdomen and cried onto the table. When his eyes had dried, he looked at the tomato and apologized. He was not usually like that- well, he was not always like that, he said.
And Allister asked the tomato, “And how about your family?”
He had heard the tomato’s family, the Solanacea, was from Peru. And Allister mentioned how he had been to Peru and had even ridden an alpaca. Had the tomato ever ridden an alpaca? Allister had much to say about Peru. He loved Peru, very much, in fact. But, as the day pressed on further, he was well aware that he did not love the tomato.
He tried harder. He wrote sweet poetry and prose and odes and songs to the tomato's beauty and it's lycopenic scent. Some of these were sweet pieces of longing. Some of them leant towards the dirty (in the literal sense, of course). And, the harder he tried, the more disappointed and upset he was that there was nothing there. He began to blame the tomato for withholding, for being a tease.
And the day turned to night once more and then another day and another night and so on and so forth and so forth and so on.
And the tomato began to turn a different hue and wrinkle and lose some of its firmness- all signs that their time together was nearing an end. But, what end? Allister wanted marriage, wanted little cherry tomato children, and a life together. Not because he loved the tomato- because he did not want to believe that we do not choose who we love. He did not want to give into the idea that there was a mysterious strand that pulled and held things together.
But, eventually, there was no choice. The tomato became nothing more than a mushy pile in the center of his table and Allister had never (not even for a second) fallen in love with it.
Of course, Allister moved on and even found love elsewhere (on its own terms). And the tomato pile moved on, too (to a spectacular sauce that Allister could even describe as beautiful).