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by william price
Not For Sale
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Her brown eyes were crying into the chicken soup simmering on the stove. It wasn’t the onions, though, that started the tears flowing. It was the tomatoes.

The kitchen in Samantha’s efficiency apartment was small. The middle-aged steel worker lived by herself. She enjoyed the aroma of home made soup, but was surprised at her reaction to the tomatoes. She loved the taste of the red vegetable, but when she opened the first can and held the juice-drenched tomato in her calloused, rough hand, she had a vision. It was as if she were holding her own heart. She could almost feel it beating.

Samantha would usually crush the tomatoes in her hands. But, this time she dropped just one lone tomato into her soup, whole and unbroken. It appeared as if it was a part of the meal as it floated, but it was the only ingredient not sliced, diced or chopped.

The tomato seemed to quiver in the simmering kettle, holding most of its juices and flavors to itself - a part of a group, but not fully contributing to the taste of the whole.

Samantha had not prayed since pacing in the emergency room eight years ago after she learned her husband, Vincent, and daughter, Jewel, were involved in an automobile accident. They died later that evening. Her last prayer was buried with them three days later. But now, as her face bathed in the steam of the simmering soup she uttered a silent prayer to God.

I’m tired of being chained to yesterday, Lord. I’d like to see a sunrise as a new day and not a reminder of the last morning I saw Vincent and Jewel laughing as they left for school and work. I want to smile again and not feel guilty. Pastor Tim has told me I need to take the guards off my heart; to take a chance and let it sing again. Lord, have I worked with steel for so long now, my heart has turned cold and hard? Help me, please.

Afterwards, she dished out a bowl of her supper. She ate everything but the tomato. She was about to stand up and scrape it into the garbage when she had an idea. She placed the tomato into a zipper baggie and then into another and sat it in the refrigerator.

Three days later it was Sunday. Church had always been an important part of her life. Samantha had been a member of the choir. Whenever they sang “Amazing Grace“, she was always was the lead vocal. Since the accident, she had only been going to services sporadically.

Later that morning Samantha went to church and sat in the back of the sanctuary. When it came time for the offering she reached into her purse and pulled out the tomato in the two baggies. During the prayer she squeezed the tomato with all her strength. She felt a release as the tomato squished in her fingers inside the baggies. With tears streaming down her cheeks she placed her offering into the collection bag when it was passed to her.

Samantha was starting to feel better until she noticed one of the ushers carrying her tomato baggie up to the pastor. She saw the usher point towards her while he spoke. The pastor grinned and walked up to the pulpit. He inspected the crushed tomato and cast an inquiring glance towards Samantha. She nodded, acknowledging it was hers.

“Before I share the Word of the Lord I’d like the choir to take its place back up here. It has been years since we’ve sung “Amazing Grace” and when we have, it hasn’t been the same.”

Pastor Tim raised his eyebrows and gave Samantha another look. “I’d also like to ask for a volunteer to come up and sing the lead for this song.”

Samantha’s heart felt like a soup tomato in a full boil, but she found the strength to stand. There wasn’t a dry eye in the sanctuary as she walked up to the stage.

She hadn’t sung in eight years, so her voice was a little raspy and nervous as she began.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

When she finished she felt empowered. Everyone in the church was either standing and praising the Lord or lying prostrate on the floor. The anointing was incredibly thick. She took a deep breath as tears rolled down her face. She could smell the soup again, crushed tomatoes and all. Samantha smiled.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanney Uthe 18 Jan 2007
I love the imagery of the tomato as her heart and of putting that heart in the offering plate. Very touching article. Well done!
Betty Castleberry 17 Jan 2007
This one is going in my favorites. I love the analogy, and really enjoyed this very well written piece.
Libby East 17 Jan 2007
wow amazing story! I loved it!
Joanne Sher  17 Jan 2007
You are in true form, dear friend. The detail and description are wonderful. This is definitely a winner in my book!
Catrina Bradley  17 Jan 2007
What a wonderful story! You grabbed me and held me from beginning to end. Loved it! Just this one line: The tomato seemed to quiver in the simmering kettle, holding most of its juices and flavors to itself - a part of a group, but not fully contributing to the taste of the whole. has so much meaning to it, I stopped and meditated on it for a few minutes, then went back and read it again after I finished the story. Wow. Thank you for posting this.
Helen Murray 17 Jan 2007
Now the rubber really has hit the road! I cried and cried over this one. Such love! Thank you.
Edy T Johnson  17 Jan 2007
This is another "wow!" story, SirWilliam. Your opening paragraph is stunning, but the lines that really gripped me: "when she opened the first can and held the juice-drenched tomato in her calloused, rough hand, she had a vision. It was as if she were holding her own heart. She could almost feel it beating." Such talent from God, I love to read your writing.
Marilyn Schnepp  17 Jan 2007
Proud of you Sir William - you know how to touch the heart! You Never fail to amaze and entertain your reading public with heartfelt stories. Get on the stick Bill, and post before deadline! Orders from headquarters! Your 'ole buddy....
Valora Otis 17 Jan 2007
Okay, I'm blubbering and smiling at the same time. You made my heart sing my friend. Bless you!
Kathie Thomas 17 Jan 2007
What a wonderful touching story. I often wonder how someone gets the idea for something like this? Fiction just isn't my thing. But I guess it could also be based on something real too. Thanks for sharing this - I really loved it and felt quite moved by it.
Pat Guy  17 Jan 2007
Oh bravo Bill! Bravo! Thank you so much for not only writing this, but for going ahead and submitting this to share. It will bless many hearts. Wow!
Loren T. Lowery 17 Jan 2007
Your writings always seem to come from the heart - it is no wonder they are received so well and resonate with a truth we are all familiar to. It is inspiring to read how others (fictional or otherwise) make it over the mountains. God's continued blessing upon your writing, yourself and your family. Nathan


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