We've been watching it for ages. Our first tomato of the season. It glows like a flare. A cherry tomato blushing bright red on a bunch amid the green ones. It's so utterly tempting. A forbidden fruit. I imagine slipping it whole into my mouth and running my tongue over the smooth, firm skin. I want to bite on it slowly until it bursts in my mouth releasing the sweet, piquant, juice that tastes of summer. A bit over the top? Definitely, but any of you who have ever eaten a perfectly ripe cherry tomato, plucked straight from the bush will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Anna asks me every day. "Can we eat it yet?" We've made a pact the two of us. When it's deep crimson, fully ripened by the sun, we are going to share the first tomato. After that the tomatoes will all ripen in quick succession. There will be so many. We will gorge on them, and they will become boring in their abundance. But the first one is special.
"Look Mama, It's ripe, we can eat it today." Reverently she picks it. She brings it to me, a gleeful smile on her face. " You have the first bite, " she offers. I have a mother's sacrificial heart. "It's okay sweetheart, you can have it all. I'll have the next one."
She insists, so I take the first bite. It's as delicious as anticipated. Anna doesn't take her eyes off that tomato for a second. She can hardly wait and her hand is poised ready to snatch it away should I take more than my share. I hand it back to her. She's about to pop the remains into her mouth when she pauses. There are three of us in our family, not just two. Papa must also have a bite. A cherry tomato shared three ways? I smile to myself at the seriousness of the ceremony.
She calls out to her Dad. He's in the bathroom brushing his teeth. "Here Papa, have a bite, it's our first tomato, have a taste." Sadly the moment is way over Papa's head. He refuses, saying he's just brushed his teeth, it'll taste awful. "Please Papa, just one bite." I hear the frantic earnestness in her voice. He's irritated. "No Anna. Next time."
Oh dear. Now they are both cross. "Fine!" Anna storms out of the bathroom, green eyes flashing. In a fit of temper she tosses the half eaten tomato out of the window. I'm the only one who's had a taste.
The gravity of what she's done hits her and she starts to cry. The tomato is ruined. Her Dad didn't want any. She never tasted any, and her perfect life is over. How did things go so pear shaped?