He made her happy, and that is the fate of a pumpkin.
|The sun had burned off the morning dew, and Harold lay in the soft dirt gazing up at the most brilliant blue sky. It wasn’t particularly hot, in fact, the nights had been getting a little nippy, and his skin was feeling it. Looking down at himself now, which he hardly ever did, he found his round mass reflecting the color of the sun. Ahh, how beautiful, Harold thought as he settled back and gazed once more at the cloudless sky and the radiant sun.
He was not startled by noises because the farmer often drove his tractor near where Harold lay, but this noise was different enough to wake him from his trance. It was high pitched, almost a cackle. Feet, smaller than the farmer’s, crunched leaves as the little girl squealed and hurtled past him, her arms outstretched like a miniature airplane.
“Marge, honey! Did you see this one? This looks like a good one, don’t you think?”
The girl’s giggles quieted, and she returned to where the older humans stood over Harold. She knelt by him and touched gently his smooth ridges and his rough, gnarled stem. The girl’s hands were fragile, not like his own tough skin, and he relished their caress. He had never been fondled like this before! He bulked up, puffing up as high as he could to push himself deeper into her hands. Oh please, this must be my time! Harold closed his eyes when the man human broke his stem and yanked him from his dirt bed and closer to the sun.
He rode on the girl’s lap in the fast tractor and was comforted by her soft hands even though he was being rushed farther and farther away from his seeding home. This is the fate of a pumpkin. And Harold was happy.
Finally, after sitting in her lap for a long while without the sun's kiss on his cheek, Harold was carried into his new home. The surface he was placed on was hard, not like the farmer’s soil ... and crinkly. Not unpleasant though, because his girl was there. She beamed at him and leaned in slowly to plant a wet kiss on his forehead. Harold’s stem practically spun from joy! She loved him! She really, really loved him! If this is what the rest of his life would be, he didn’t know why the vines always warned of the non-farmer humans …
It was at that moment that pain pierced through him. Radiating from a spot just to the left of his stem, a sharp pain, unlike anything he had ever felt before, ripped into his firm skin. The girl giggled. Behind him, where Harold could not see, the adult human drew the knife methodically through his head until he could grab Harold’s stem and pull it free from the rest of his body. Harold wanted to scream when his guts were displayed on the table, but he did not because his girl was watching. Harold did not want to upset her, so he remained quiet. His girl squirmed in her seat and knelt on her chair to get a better angle to plunge her fragile little hand deep into Harold’s core and pull out globs upon globs of orange tendrils. Is that what my insides look like? Harold almost gagged.
Harold did not budge when the man human scraped the inside of his head with a spoon. He did not grimace when his girl marked his perfect skin with marker. And he did not protest when the man human poked a searing hot knife through his eyes and mouth. This was the fate of a pumpkin, Harold knew. And he was happy.
Finally, when it was over, the humans placed their implements greased with his innards on the table and stood back to admire their handiwork. His girl smiled, showing off the gaps in her teeth, and Harold smiled to himself in return. So long as she was happy, he was happy.
The adult human picked him up then, and his girl waved goodbye as he was brought outdoors into the cold autumn air. The temperature seemed colder now that his protective skin was no longer enveloping him. But, much to his surprise, a small flame began to burn within him. It kept him warm even after the human left.
It was several days before he saw his girl again. That night, many odd creatures had come past where Harold sat and left again just as quickly. Vampires and ghosts, superheroes and puppies waddled through the streets as if in a parade. When his girl finally came, she was dressed as a butterfly with reflective, metallic wings and red antennae on her head. She squealed, just as she had when she ran by him in his field, and knelt so he could see her more clearly. She flashed again the gaps in her teeth and in her wing, Harold saw his own reflection for the first time. My word, I'm just as gap-toothed as she is! With that revelation, Harold was content. This was the fate of a pumpkin.
He waited that night and many more nights. After a while, the humans no longer lit the flame inside him and the nights became colder and harder to bear. The first flurries of snow were drifting around him when his head began to sag, and the sagging was accompanied by a not-so-pleasant smell. When it was finally his time to go, he remembered his girl and their shared gap-toothed smile. Though she hadn’t come to see him again, he thought of her and her missing teeth fondly. Perhaps her smile will have grown in by next year and her next pumpkin will earn a full set of teeth. Yes, perhaps indeed.
Written for: "Holiday Short Story Contest"
Prompt: Write a story that has something to do with carving a pumpkin.
Word Count: 959