My face stung from the impact immediately. The seeds stained my face with shame as the juice seeped into my pores, extending their influence and control.
Robbie laughed with all the glee only a four year old could have. Roughly translated, the sound was the equivalent of pixies screeching in celebration after ruining the day of a foolish mortal who stumbled upon their territory. What a funny, funny face, so shocked and red!
Oh god, it was still drip, drip, dripping down my cheeks. I wanted to scream, but my throat was a desert – tepid, exhausted, and showing few signs of life. I could only drown in my paralysis as the slimy thing poisoned my body. An alien invader, arriving from some foreign galaxy, slowly tortured me for the keys to my kingdom.
Get out. Get out, get out, GET OUT, GET OUT-
Robbie fell quiet as tears pricked at his eyes. I realized they mirrored my own, and like an elixir of truth, they washed away the illusions. I wasn’t even allergic to tomatoes, how could I let one terrify me so? And silly me, I lived far from a desert or a kingdom, and there was no chance of there being aliens or poisons to hurt me.
Robbie was no pixie. His eyes, still full of tears, were a playful brown, promising mischief but not terror. Such a thought never visited his head.
“I’m sorry!” he blubbered, “Please don’t tell mommy!” His hands shook as he handed me a pink towel. I nodded compliantly, and wiped myself down. My thoughts gradually returned to me, but my words were still missing.
Taking his hand, I presented my vow of secrecy from his mother by paying for ice cream at the Dairy Queen down the street from his house, the last of the summer. His tears were gone with the speed of a Florida rainstorm.
It would be easy to believe that little Robbie would forget such an odd moment. He threw a tomato at my face and watched me cry. It was nothing but a childish prank gone wrong. He laughed initially, just as he laughed when I wiped the cherry ice cream off his nose.
But no matter how I tried to convince myself, a ghost of the invader said to me in a hushed whisper that Robbie wouldn’t, couldn’t forget about today.
And I couldn’t shake the feeling that the invader was still lingering somewhere inside of my skin.