The Well & The Mine. by Gin Phillips

“Come ‘ere, Jack.”

I pulled another one off and handed it to him, still tasting summer in my mouth, seeds stuck in the shadow of my beard.

“Vergie and Tess don’t get none,” He said, looking pleased.

“Girls,” I called. “Get down here.”

They were there in a flurry of flying skirts and legs and wide smiles.

“In the middle of the afternoon?” Asked Vergie as Tess reached to grab one.

“Any one you want,” I said. “pick the biggest, sweetest one you see.” I smiled at them all, chattering and slurping, teeth and tongues and hands and arms covered in tomato innards.

“They’re happy vegetables, aren’t they, Papa?” Asked Tess, chomping great chunks out of hers. “Cheerful and excited. Like lemons are pouty and peaches are flirts.”

Vergie took tiny bites, bending over to hold the tomato away from her dress. But hers was the best, fuller and redder than the others. “Tess things they all have a personality,” she said.

“If she can eat it after she makes friends with it, ain’t nothin’ wrong with it,” I said.

We all picked beans until supper time, sticky and sweating, licking our fingers and hands and tasting tomatoes and dirt. When I swung Jack and Tess up the steps on the way in, our hands didn’t want to come apart.

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