a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

little tomato

< by JHK >

In elementary school, we grew tomato plants.

We started with foam cups, puncturing drainage holes in the bottom. Then we added soil, sprinkled seeds on top, and nudged them beneath the dirt.

Day after day, we monitored the plants. Eventually, buds emerged. At first they looked like alfalfa sprouts — pale shoots with wobbly, translucent stems. Gradually, the stems thickened and grew fur. The vines filled the room with a tangy scent, like freshly cut grass and peppercorns.

When the day came to take the plants home, I pressed mine against my belly and rounded my back to shelter it. Its leaves trembled as I rode the bus, but I managed to bring it home without losing too much dirt.

With my mom’s help, I planted it by the crook in the sidewalk. For weeks, it did not bear fruit. Then, I came home one day and it had grown a couple feet and developed a few green orbs. Sweet, I thought.

For the rest of the summer, we enjoyed bright-red big boy tomatoes. We ate them like apples.

Later that fall, while traipsing around in the woods, I found the crumpled carcass of a tomato plant. Its roots held the constricted shape of a foam cup.

It dawned on me: My parents had played a switcheroo. My big sister confirmed this. I felt tremendous sadness, as this was the first thing I had ever nurtured to life. Now it was dead.

But years later, I figured it out: I was my parents’ little tomato plant. They had nurtured me to life and they wanted me to thrive. They could have taught me a lesson on failure, but instead gave me a taste of success.

_ _ _

If you had been in my parents’ position, what would you have done?

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