They were the last tomatoes of the season, harvested from the garden like the precious gems they were. The tomatoes were heirlooms. Their juice was a deep, luscious red, and their flesh was thick and meaty. Because of that, I didn’t notice at first when I cut into them and sliced my index finger. The blood from my finger mingled indistinguishably with the juice of the tomato, so that when I finally felt the familiar sting of pain, I thought for a second that the tiny tomato seeds were coming out of my body, as if I was a ripened fruit ready to burst.
I couldn’t believe I had cut my finger again. Last week, when I had been making salsa, I had practically sliced off a fingernail while carving into an onion, and now I had bled all over what I knew would be the last tomatoes from this year’s garden. A hard freeze had been predicted for tomorrow night, and there would be no more backyard tomatoes to look forward to until next summer. All the watering all the weeding, all the composting, this is what it came down to.
I used my thumb to press a towel against my index finger, feeling the pressure against my skin. I stared down at the cutting board, a splatter of seeds and blood staring back at me.
I put it all into the salad.
Jim O’Loughlin is the author of the flash fiction collection DEAN DEAN DEAN DEAN (Twelve Winters Press).
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