The icy Atlantic shocks my adrenaline drenched senses.
The cold saltwater stings my eyes as my lungs beg for air. Did I remember to take a breath before I jumped? I’m not sure. I stop paddling for a second and force my panicked mind to slow….to think. Should I dive deeper or head for the surface? Deeper! I kick hard plunging myself further down into the cold, shadowy depths. A flash of yellow catches my burning eyes. It’s him! I grab a fistful and haul him to the surface. Anxious hands reach and pull the boy back onto the dock where he wandered off thirty seconds earlier. His mother’s screams still as dad gently lays him on the dock. I try desperately to climb out, anxious for the boy’s life. Where are all the helpful hands now? Finally, like a wet, flopping, frantic for oxygen fish I succeed and watch as rescuers try to revive him. Silence. Too much time passes. Every second an eternity. At last, he coughs and spits out the sea. He lives. Thank you God!
A soft, sweet smelling blanket is wordlessly placed around my shivering body, and my teeth slow their chattering staccato. The boy’s father carry him to the waiting ambulance as his mother’s grateful sobs grace the seaside. The curious crowd disperses leaving me alone on the long wooden dock- stunned, exhausted and thankful. I glance back to my vendor’s booth located on the beach next to the dock. It is where, moments ago, I watched the curious boy fall headlong into the sea. Deep breath. One more. My teeth cease their racket. I rise…back to reality, back to work!
I am a Vegetable vendor.
I sell vegetables to the fun seeking, vacationing, upper-class Americans who visit this sea-side tourist town. Vegetables. There’s nothing more boring than vegetables. Sure they’re colorful and good for you, but do you know anyone who actually craves them? Nope? That’s what I thought…boring! As a matter of fact, I am a vegetable: A dull, non-exciting, un-craved for, too afraid to live a real life kind of vegetable. To be more specific, I am a potato. Always the side dish, never the main course kind of potato…and I’m talking mashed potatoes here, not french-fries.
But, hold on. Did I not just throw myself into the frigid sea to save a child? That should count for something…shouldn’t it?
I sit down hard. I just saved a life. The realization hits me hard. A spark of something ignites in my gut—something good and noble. The sensation is short lived as vacationers stroll up to my booth. I stand up ready to push my veggies on them. Even the slightest bit of eye contact and I’ve got ‘em. They don’t look; I’m not surprised. They move on; they usually do. My eyes slowly wander out over the massive ocean and watch as the sun paints diamonds that dance across the great expanse. I suppose I love it here. I suppose that’s why I can’t leave. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s easier than admitting that I’m afraid to try anything else…too afraid to take a chance. Well, except for today, I mean.
“Do you know who I am?” I silently scream at the crowd. “I am a hero!” Wait… a hero?
Where did that come from? I am no hero. I’m just a boring person selling boring vegetables.
Well, to be fair, not all vegetables are boring. Take tomatoes for instance. Their color alone shouts ‘fun—exciting.’ Their vibrant hue entices one to taste of its fruit. A tangy, drippy,
salsa party awakens the taste buds when one gives in to its temptation. I like tomatoes!
Actually, when you think about it, after today maybe I’m a little more like a tomato than a
potato. Yeah, that’s right!!
An older couple stops by my booth and buys three cucumbers. They recognize me as the
woman who saved the boy. “You did an amazing act today dear.” The woman pats my hand and continues to compliment my ‘nice and neat’ stand. I thank her profusely, a trick that’s good for repeat business, then I send them on their merry way. Curious thing tho…they are like ancient years old and are holding hands. Maybe cucumbers are the vegetable of love? I wonder and watch as they slowly walk along the shore line. I stare until they disappear from view. Immediately I do what any red blooded, STILL single, American girl would do with this kind of revelation. I wash off a cucumber and eat it for lunch. I lie. I eat two of them. I am desperate. I am a desperate tomato!
The day wears on. My produce is moving quickly. It has been a good day, yet I am
restless. It must be the cukes. I should have eaten only one. A flash of red catches my
eye. A gorgeous stranger in a red NIKE t-shirt strolls through the vendor’s booths. He is headed my way. I sit up straight, pinch some color into my cheeks and fluff my air-dried curls. What has gotten into me? He won’t notice me. No one notices me. I’m just a vegetable…a red tangy vegetable, but a veggie none the less. He comes closer—I can’t look away. His eyes meet mine. I can’t breathe. Those stupid cuckes! He stops. He stares. He smiles. Oh my goodness! “The cucumbers are fresh today,” I say. Hold on, what the heck am I doing? I never speak to gorgeous strangers! My mouth continues, “You know, they say that cucumbers are the vegetable of love.” I slowly stand and wink at him. Who is this woman who has abducted my brain? “Let me prove it.” I slice off a piece of cucumber and slowly feed it to him.
Holy cow….forget the tomato, I’m a FREAKING CHILI-PEPPER!