The Tomato House

She is wearing her favourite brown corduroy dungarees, a striped shirt with an oversized collar that engulfs her neck. Her hair is short, boyish, but it’s not been cut, it just hasn’t grown yet.  

In her hands she carries a plastic bucket and spade, more appropriate for the beach than a council estate in Manchester. She’s confident for her age though and wanders from the house in to the garden, away from her parents and towards the special glass shed where her Grandad is busy with earthy hands, pottering and potting, and probably plotting.  

She’s too young to work out how to open the sliding door and waits there for him to notice her. He doesn’t like children much, they get in the way, but she is his favourite and, although he huffs and puffs at her presence, he opens the door and she squeezes in.  

They do not speak as they pluck the spherical red fruits from their lair; he reaches for the high ones that are out of her reach and hands them to her and she carefully places in her bucket so as not to squish them.   

On her way out, she squeezes the leaves of the plants and inhales their sweet, grassy aroma.  A smell that fifty years later transports her back in time. A smell that is so addictive that the only thing she ever grows is tomatoes that lace around her hanging baskets and pit the terrace with their golden pots.  

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