As I remember it, I was an alligator in the sewers of New York, three or four lifetimes ago. I can see my snout rising out of the dark waters, pupils black vertical slits in yellow marbles. My tail, following heavy and dangerous behind me, leaves a quiet greasy wake. In another lifetime, kneeling in the wet tangled vines, hiding my enemy eyes while bombs drop overhead. No place to hide. A short life, over practically before I learned to run. Then not so long ago, my Blackberry trilling, but I can’t reach it; I can hear my parents argue, over god, over collapse, over where I must be, feel the rubble, the bones, the air thick and then nothing.

But right now, this life, I am more like a cockroach but worse: no fingers, no typewriter, no sassy cat to argue with over coffee. I am a ripe horned tomato worm, wondering what I did (what did I do for heaven’s sake?) to have this life after those, and how many more must I have to atone for whatever it was I did whenever that might have been? There are no leaves here to answer my questions, no caterpillar to tell me which side to eat from, no sign of metamorphosis for me in this lifetime. I am revolted by the sound of my skin rubbing against itself as I move.

(c) National Gardening Association

My neighbor, Chloe, is a leaf green tomato worm on a branch that bends only slightly with her weight. She is virtually invisible; the big fingers have not found her yet, only cursed her teeth marks and brushed past her tight little body firmly attached to its stem.

Chloe is a bright shiny new soul, never been anywhere before. She is radiant, juicy, and fat with joy.

4 Responses to “Ripe”

  1. 1 Tek August 28, 2007 at 10:31 am

    that’s kinda cool. the new soul that doesn’t get picked off the tomatoe plants. The thought in my head was more articulate I think, maybe a past life with no language interferes.

  2. 2 Teresa August 28, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Tek! Nice to see you again. I was playing with Very Short Novel’s format (299 words! exactly!), pretty accessible writing between patients. I like your observation about the fingers — my own attention was drawn to Chloe’s happiness — too new to have suffered yet. Or something like that.

  3. 3 lollyloo August 29, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Very nice. Great “turn” in the last paragraph. Climax of the 300-word novel!

  4. 4 truce August 30, 2007 at 3:40 am

    I love Chloe! she sounds just like we all aspire to be, “radiant, juicy and fat with joy”…beautiful!

    Chloe is a happy wiggle worm. Maybe a children’s story?

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