Anne Headline draft2 : Armadillos Zebras and Tomatoes

24 Jan

So I’ve fiddled around with the tenses and flipped into present tense part way through, added in some detail about different ways to love tomatoes – I’m still not quite there though – not sure I’ve quite nailed what I’m trying to say, or who my character is completely.

Qs: does the shift in tense work? Do I need more detail?Less detail? Should I cut the armadillos?

Armadillos, Zebras and Tomatoes.

Leprosy can be spread by armadillos.

To humans I mean.

It’s in them when they’re born.

If you handle an armadillo you should be aware of that

And tell your doctor what you’ve done.

They can give you antibiotics to clear it up.

Not like in the bible!

Last week I saw a giant zebra in the park

just standing there.

When I looked again

it was a tree.

That happens doesn’t it?

You think you see something

And know what it is

and all the time you were wrong.

That Mrs Hogg never liked me.

Skinny, boney.

Said I didn’t walk fast enough.

Hoisted me onto her hip

striding along, calling after the other kids,

me wailing, from her bony hip dug into me

or the indignity,

I don’t remember.

Made me eat tomatoes,

I threw up.

You shouldn’t make people eat stuff they don’t want to

if you ask me.

On Sunday my mum would drop them into a bowl of boiling water

wait until their skin peeled back like a smile

then fish them out with asbestos fingers and peel it away

cut them thin for sandwiches.

They made the sliced-white soggy.

I hate that.

One time on holiday we met the man who grows them.

Come on!

Through the big white gate

make sure you close it behind you.

See the sign saying PRIVATE, but we’re allowed down there

because we’re going to see the man.

Down the lane.

like a tunnel, trees arched above our head

you can’t see the sky.

It’s so quiet.

Crunching feet on gravel.

At the end is a big garden with a high wall all round.

At the end of the garden is rows of greenhouses

the smell is like being buried in the ground

not in a scary way

in a soft way

like the earth will be your blanket

and the smell gets stronger the closer we get.

The man comes out

smiling, big-smiling with scrunched up eyes

but he has buggy boggle eyes

popping out of his head

and his hair isn’t flat but all sticking up

and his hands are the colour of the dark

nails short, black line across the top like I’ve drawn it with a pen.

Dirty, but clean-dirty if you know what I mean?

He takes us into the greenhouse

through tall green plants

heavy with plump red

plump green

plump green-red tomatoes.

The smell makes me close my eyes and breathe in

and out again

makes me want to rub those fat red babies on my skin

rub the leaves between my fingers to feel their furry earthiness.

Then suddenly, I wanted to love them.

And dropping them in boiling water was never such fun again.

Still that rubbery skin, sticks in your teeth

pulpy flesh

slimy seeds

like bogeys.


Why did that Mrs Hogg make me eat them?

But I tried to love them.

Worked hard to love them.

Inhaled their scent

tasted them timidly from time to time

dipped them in salt like fresh fried donuts in sugar

anointed them in olive oil as green as their leaves

blended them with garlic to pour over pasta

stuffed them with rice, fresh parsley and onion,

until slowly,

they changed

first the flesh

seemed firm not pulpy

then their seeds

sticky-sweet not slimy.

Until, I do.

I love them.


I love them.

Things are like that sometimes

If you look again

You see them different.

Did I warn you about armadillos?


One Response to “Anne Headline draft2 : Armadillos Zebras and Tomatoes”

  1. MouthyPoets January 26, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    I love this. I was reading it all the way down thinking ‘what the fuck was that armadillo business about?’. I was so ready to call you up on it, but then that one line at the end made me smile and all was okay and all was forgiven.

    Yes, this works. Never mind ‘who the character is’, the ambiguity makes it fun. Have fun. Throw the red pen under a lawnmower and get this on its feet :).

    Joshua Judson

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