Once there was Egg. He lived with his parents in a big cardboard house.
One day Egg came into the kitchen where his dad was washing dishes. He stood with his arms crossed and said “Daddy, I am going to a football match. Carrots Villa is playing the greens.”
“The evils again?”
“Yes. And I bought a ticket from my saved pocket money.”
“Ah well done. Going with what’s her name?”
Egg lowered his eyes and flicked his foot at the carpet.
“On my own.
“Why is she not coming with you?”
Egg blushed. “We’re…”
“What is it, son?”
Egg tutted and shook his head. “Sort of…”
He mumbled something inaudible.
“Wait, I can’t hear you with the dishes.” Dad switched off the tap and turned, keeping his hands dripping in the sink. “Now I’m listening, sonny.”
“I’m going on my own.”
Dad cocked his head.
Father turned back to the sink. Egg came closer and leant against the kitchen top.
“She thinks…She called me bold… and thick.”
Dad closed the tap. He shook excess water off his hands and reached for the towel, wiped his hands and hung the towel back on the hook.
“She also called me butt-face.”
Tears filled Egg’s eyes. Dad put a consoling hand on his shoulder.
His face shrivelled in a tearful sob. Oh, how much father-egg understood what this small, serious, somewhat smart, bold boy, a son of his, will have to go through with all kinds of vegetables.
At the Game
On his way to the match, the excitement was taking over. After all, two great teams were playing – Carrots Villa and Cucumbers City. What an awesome game it was about to be.
The stadium was almost full when he took his seat according to the number on his ticket. Egg’s heart pounded with anticipation. He adored these moments. Green and orange banners flapped in the wind like giant wings.
“STAND UP IF YOU LOVE CARROTS!” Ah, the chants. He waited. Here it comes. “WE OWN THE CARROTS!” Egg got up. He loved singing although he’d never admit it because whenever he did, he was told it was crap, so he stopped. He took a deep breath. “YOU OWN THE HINGE LEGS OF FERRETS!”
A big wave came from the right; Egg picked it up sticking out his stomach as far as possible. With the last word, his eyes lay on a miserable, painful scene. Tomato dressed all in orange sat ten feet away from him between potato and swede, behind a banner, two aisles higher.
On the twentieth minute, something hit Egg’s shoulder. Loud sniggers were heard. Potato and swede were laughing their socks off. Swede’s head hung over the balustrade, pimpled mouth wide open, crispy bits flying out of it. His black-eyed mate was rolling on the floor holding his sprouting tummy. Next to them was Tomato, smiling.
No way. Oil-drinking losers who wouldn’t fit a bowl of soup. Egg felt like spitting on them in his bitter disappointment.
Tomato leant on the rail shrieking and waving her hands. She glowered at him and giggled nastily. “Bitch,” mouthed Egg holding her eye for a moment. This is war. Only to think, that he was saving for the two tickets for three months. He looked back at the pitch.
Front cucumber had the stone and bounced it on a long diagonal. Another raised his foot to blast it off into the net. The crowd tensed up as the thigh stretched back for the final send-off of the long shin. NOO! YESS! Orange’s chest slid under the stone and stole it mid-air, perfect pass to another. Green lost their chance. In less than a minute, the stone lay dead in cucumbers net. Half the audience jumped to their feet but Egg.
At that time above him, a big commotion began. Tomato with a bottle in her hand slouched on the floor trying to sing.
AaaZeeeGra AAAA AAAA Isss Yaa Meee Yooo Ahhh
Ouch. Swede gave potato a wedgie as he jumped off the rail. He was coming down. Wait, he’s coming here. Egg shifted in his seat. Potato passed him, deeply fried, not even looking where he’s going. His oily hands pushed away leaving marks on people’s clothes. However boiled Egg was though, he didn’t expect what came next.
“You rotten dry chip come back you dumb french-fry!” That was Tomato, his ex-best friend. How lovely of her. Here’s that sarcasm again. It brought a burning kind of peace.
Grinning spud scraped Tomato’s hands off the rail, “Let go, dumpy,” he pulled off the three last fingers and jumped. In two mighty steps that took a few seconds, Potato reached Egg’s seat. Being as fried up as his mate, he was, nevertheless, not as stable. With a blast, Egg was thrown at his neighbour. Under the cumbersome weight, sharp pain rose in his shell.
In Egg’s seat, awkwardly positioned, was now spud. “I was joking about doing it right from the start…”
Looking surprised he stared up to where he just came from. “Can’t believe that pizza-face dumplinged me,” he grumbled trying to get up. Egg looked at him, staring daggers. The rugged jag-head was squashing him.
“Would you, please! Just. Move. Out the way!”
His face was firmly embedded into someone’s shoulder, and his words came out muffled.
Potato had finally managed to get up. Free from the spud’s heft Egg tumbled on to the floor. From there, taken by surprise by the inevitable power of inertia, he rolled down the aisles. Dashing and flinging without looking back since his neck was fractured, he staggered through the gates and out, picking up speed and distance from everything that went wrong.
Egg cut through the coppice. And all because of what? He stamped on a bare branch. Aw. Look out! Egg avoided the rocks only to fall into a puddle.
She said things he didn’t want to hear. He rolled over trying to get out of the slime. Just like others did. I never thought she’d be like them. It hurts so much. He climbed out of the dirt and studied himself in disgust.
About a week ago he joked with the celeries. They mentioned Tomato for some reason, and the long one said, “She is so enormous and red that cutting her up would suffice for the whole neighbourhood to eat. Ha ha ha.”
Then the short one with the curly top said, “If you were to make paint of her there would be enough for everybody to renovate, haa!”
Celeries snorted in unison and convulsed. Egg wasn’t too familiar with their body language but as far as he knew it was part of the laugh. It wasn’t every day that he chatted up the celeries, so what the heck, he chuckled too.
Then he added that she was indeed a gigantic tomato, which wasn’t a lie if he thought about it. And then he saw her.
He squeezed his soaking wet shirt and looked for a dry patch to wipe his hands on. The fridge is a small world as Dad always says.
Tomato was plump and healthy. Although raised in a rougher area, her parents fed her only the best, organic food and she had this acidic sense of humour that Egg appreciated so much. She stormed into the room with her nostrils blown like of a raged bull.
“You ugly egghead! You look like a giant butt. Look in the mirror. You have makeup on!”
“Ho shut up you beetroot. I haven’t done anything.”
“I heard you, you slime-yolk!”
Tomato cried and stormed out.
Leaving his pants in the mud, half-naked Egg knew that there was nothing he could do about it now. His spine hurt dreadfully. He trundled on through the muck and the spikes and the sand in the grass, until he was standing all hurt at his folks’ house. They were still up, playing scramble.
That evening, unlike most others, the cucumbers won, but even this didn’t make Egg feel any better. After a shower, he went straight to bed.
Days passed forming into weeks, turning into months. Egg’s cracks healed. He long regretted everything that was said and done. He wished to apologise but didn’t know how.
The night of the game Tomato was too pickled to think about anything. Her new pals left the stadium to keep on partying abandoning her in her misery: smashed and soaked in juices. She figured that she might’ve slightly overreacted and that perhaps Egg and she should talk about it all. She was missing her friend.
Then it was Easter, and Tomato went looking for Egg. She headed straight to his favourite place, the library, and found him wandering in the neon-lit corridors. They stood there for a while not knowing what to say.
Egg knocked harshly on his head which made a dull sound, “I am thick.” They both giggled and looked away. There was a long pause. “Should we walk a bit?” he offered.
They went to the park. Strolling in silence, they reached the birches and stopped. Egg extended his little finger, “Here’s something my mum used to do,” Tomato brought hers and hooked around his. They shook their hands and chanted.
“Peace, peace, pinkie please, he who quarrels will get fleas!”
Photo by Ed Morris.