Through the Greenhouse Glass
By Polly Robinson
I am a green tomato. You may not be familiar with talking tomatoes, but don’t worry about that for now, I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve been growing in this greenhouse for months and you’ll want to know what happened this morning.
You should have seen Mrs Carter’s face. She came in to take some of my redder brethren for something called ‘salad’. Don’t ask me what ‘salad’ is; all I know is that no one ever comes back from it.
We don’t know why today is different from any other day, but today Mrs Carter – he calls her ‘the dragon’ – peers into flowerpots and rummages through seed boxes. Mr Carter’s neat and tidy greenhouse is becoming a shambles. I know he won’t be pleased, though he’ll probably just tidy it up, say nothing.
She’s getting closer to Mr Carter’s hideaway. She pauses from time to time to stretch and ease her back. I can feel myself starting to blush as her pudgy fingers worm their way between slats and trays.
Mr Carter’s been hiding his mags in the second seed box down on the left for as long as I can remember. They’re pretty books with glossy covers and women on the front. He sits and leafs through them after giving us a drink and a spray. He smiles when he looks at the pictures. I don’t understand it; these women are the opposite of the one he married. They go in where she goes out and she goes out a lot further than any of them.
She’s getting closer. She seems to know what she’s looking for. She finds the magazines. With a twisted smile she stands at the door of the greenhouse and calls, ‘Horace. Oh, Horace,’ in a voice dripping honey. She’s never called him so sweetly before.
All eyes in the greenhouse are trained through the window to the garden path. There, Mrs Carter stands with a copy of ‘Girlies’ gripped in her trembling hand.
Mr Carter shambles down the path towards her and us.
We wait, holding our breath; it’s as if all the air’s been sucked out of the greenhouse.
‘Yes dear?’ He hasn’t spotted the magazine. She holds it up.
‘Well?’ she says. Warmth flees out of the greenhouse. We quake.
‘I told you what would happen, Horace, if I found another one of these,’ she says, ‘and I meant it.’
He tries to snatch the magazine off her. She too fast, she smacks him round the head. Swings back to have another bash. He stops and looks at the ground. We all look down. There. Just inches from his feet. The knife he uses in the greenhouse. She’s knocked it off the bench in her search.
Mild-mannered Mr Carter reaches for the knife, picks it up, looks at it, then, deliberately, familiarly, plunges it into her side.
Her surprise is mirrored in her dead face. Every tomato in the greenhouse has gone red.
Polly Robinson © 2012