It lay on the road, as fat and round as and redly shining as Henry VIII on one of his better days. It was a beautiful example of its kind, the standard red bell pepper, its skin smooth, taut and unblemished, the sunlight striking a gleam off the perfect globes of its bottom. Its stem curved proudly upwards, strong and green, still bearing the mark of where it had been snapped from its mother plant. It was the very pinnacle of pepper perfection.
And yet it lay on the road. My son and I saw it as we were walking to my mother’s house and pondered upon its fate. Perhaps it had been destined to become part of a fluffy yellow omelette, shards of pepper glistening amongst the egg, like rubies cushioned on yellow velvet. Maybe the person who bought it was going to make a healthy salad for their family, dicing its firm flesh into symmetrical cubes to add brightness to the green of lettuce. Possibly it was bought to add mild heat and flavour to a curry, lovingly crafted by a woman for her husband, part of a carefully planned romantic evening for two without the kids.
And yet it lay on the road. I don’t know what cruel hand of Fate had plucked it from its carrier bag or why its purchaser had not stopped to retrieve it, only that its proud pepperness had not been diminished by this unseen turn in its destiny. I mentioned to my son that perhaps we should pause and rescue it, but both he and I had been very firmly taught from an early age that you do not pick food up off the floor. So we left it.
Later as we returned home, we noticed that the pepper had been run over by a callous car. Its insides were smashed into a foot long smear, fragments of skin embedded into the tarmac. Roadkill.
I felt awful and somehow guilty that I had not rescued the pepper and saved it from this undignified ending. It deserved better. Perhaps the moral of this is ‘waste not, want not.’ I don’t know. I only wish that I had stopped to pick the pepper up and let it complete its destiny in a more fitting way.
Rose Quartz – stone of the heart for infinite love and compassion
All photographs Copyright © 2016 Alex Marlowe