The Path To Transformation

Day 1

We have set up camp for the first night of our journey and our spirits are high. Potato, Tomato, Onion and me have finally taken the plunge and set out on our journey. I am excited and terrified at the same time of what we will find at the end, but if the stories are to be believed, our transformation will reward us.
We spent some time in the campfire’s light to tell each other about our dreams.
Tomato hopes to become a soup or a bisque. I think Tomato is worried the most of all of us, since their expiration date is approaching quicker than ours. While they have been part of our small group since the great harvest, being a fruit weighs heavily on them. We told them that for us, they have and always will be vegetable.

Onion is the complete opposite of Tomato and does not seem at all worried about their fate. If they had to pick, they would want to be in a stew. Onion always seems chipper to me, but I am sure there is more hiding underneath that skin of theirs.

Sometimes I feel Potato doesn’t seem interested in his transformation and that they are just tagging along to not be left behind. I have a hard time understanding how someone so versatile with so much culinary potential can’t get excited about any of the things that might be in store for them.

I have to confess that when we all talk to each other, I try to project confidence and foresight, but I am terrified of the future. I want to become part of a salad, maybe cut into small strips. Being cooked, baked or grilled terrifies me, but if this is what fate has destined for me, I will do my best to embrace it.

We have a long trek ahead tomorrow and our directions lack details. I hope we will not get lost.

Day 2

We are now resting after the arduous journey of today, that has taken a toll on most of us, especially on Tomato. We are trying to keep the spirits high, but we all noticed the various soft, mushy spots that developed all over Tomato’s skin. While Onion and Potato seemed to be no worse for wear, Tomato’s body was not meant for these exertions. We will have to proceed carefully, yet balance our caution with the accelerated timeline of Tomato’s body decomposing.
Personally, I am still shaken up from a scary encounter early in the day. Shortly after setting out for the day, we spotted a lagomorph in the distance. Fortunately, it was already feasting on the remains of another traveler. I couldn’t quite make it out but Onion was certain it was half a head of Romaine. I still shake at the thought of being eaten by a rabbit.
Potato has said little all day and seems in thought. If I wasn’t so shaken up by the day’s events, I would have tried to get them to open up a bit more.
I hope that tomorrow’s travel will be easier. According to the directions, we will come across a body of water that will allow us to traverse a huge part of the journey within a single day. If nothing goes wrong, I think this will give us all a much-needed boost of confidence.

Day 3

I have been gravely wounded and I hope that focusing on the day’s events will help to distract me from the pain and humiliation, but more on that later.
The directions we have received were correct! We came across a small stream. At first, I disheartened us to learn that aside from Onion, neither of us could float on our own. We had hoped that we could make use of the currents to carry us closer to our destination.
Frankly, our hopes were crushed at this moment. Rather than abandon us to pursue the transformation by himself, Onion did not let this put a damper on his spirits and in no time, he threw all kind of things into the stream. After a while he called out to us, informing us we could make use of a large piece of bark that would easily carry all of us.
We would just have to bring it into the water and, with Potato’s solid body, hold it in place while Tomato and I climbed aboard the floating piece of bark. Onion then lifted potato onto our floating vessel. Rather than trying to cram themselves onto the already tight space, Onion decided they would float alongside us and potentially steer us around obstacles as best as they could. Suddenly we were hurrying along the stream, our spirits rising to all-time highs, and we were singing songs we heard from the field workers during the great harvest.
Just before we reached the end of the floating leg of our journey, I was gravely wounded. We had been carefree, and all enjoyed the water splashing on us, especially Onion seemed to love soaking in the stream next to us. As I was resting on the bark, I had not realized that the narrow tip of my root was hanging into the water. If we had been less careless we might have even noticed the threat approaching. Then I felt a sudden pang of pain as something pulled me off the bark. My body had lured, and it bit down on my exposed root.

Only thanks to Tomato’s fast reflexes, this horrific creature did not drag into the water. Potato and Tomato weighed me down and that is when my narrow tip broke off my body. This could have ended in my demise, and I am ultimately glad that I survived. I feel vulnerable and humiliated. While Potato and Onion were sympathetic to my suffering, Tomato seemed to dismiss the injury. While I understand that their own situation is dire as well, I wished they would have been more sympathetic and understanding towards my pain in that moment. I have exchanged no words with Tomato since then, this has put an emotional barrier between us that I am not sure we will be able to gap, especially not when our focus will be on on the travel.
I am scared that my wound will become infected, accelerating my decomposition process and ultimately make me unpalatable. I need to preserve my energies and hope I will be able to sleep through the night despite the pain.

Day 4

Our path was leading us down a steep, rocky hillside, but we decided to take a longer and slower path along the leafy underbrush to reduce the damage on Tomato’s skin. Onion decided to simply roll down the hill, unwilling to wait. It seemed Onion underestimated the impact and lost some of their outer shell and took some bruising as well as some smaller cuts. I am not sure why, but I couldn’t help but cry once we caught back up with Onion, despite my frustration about his reckless behavior. As we trudged along a less treacherous past, we began to hear voices in the distance as well as smelled a campfire. Now that we are getting closer to our destination, I am not surprised we would encounter others that have the same goal.

The voices came from a group of lemons, who have been themselves traveling across the area, transporting a surprising amount of equipment. They were very eager and willing to explain to us their ‘lamp’ to us and even offered a demonstration. The pulled out two sticks made out of two types of metals called copper and zinc that they referred to as nails. Those were connected to vines, which were also made out of the copper metal. I am not certain I can describe what have seen next.
They jammed the nails into one of their friends, deep into their flesh and suddenly their campfire was not the only source of light. They say that they are able to turn their own energy into light. I have heard the harvest workers talk about gods and am wondering if these are what they referred to.
The lemon party explained to us that they were initially destined to become a drink called lemonade, but their now dried up leader had taught them about another lifestyle that does not involve being an ingredient for a dish. It didn’t make much sense to me and I was slightly put off by seeing that they kept the dead body of their former leader and teacher with them. I started to worry that seeing a dessicated fruit would send Tomato into a spiral of worry. It seemed Tomato just kept to themselves.
They asked me if I was interested in experiencing the feeling that comes from being able to create something beautiful as light with my own body. I didn’t want to be rude, so I let them stick their nails in me. It was painful and nothing happened, the light did not come back. I believed they were playing a trick with us and I wanted to give them a piece of my mind, when Potato asked them if they could give it a try with him. They obliged and to their surprise, the light was even brighter than they had ever seen it before. I am pretty certain this is the first time that I have seen Potato happy ever since we started our long journey.
I wonder who else is out there. I also hope that it will not take much longer as we are all being worn down, especially Tomato.

Day 5

I write these words with a heavy heart and deep sorrow. In the dark of last night and with Tomato being withdrawn, we could not see the extent of damage they had endured so far. This morning I saw multiple open cuts, their entire body appeared misshapen and softer than I ever recall it being. Sometimes I see drops of their fluids dripping onto the ground but I do not tell then, to not further alarm then. Their movements were less steady and on a particularly narrow pathway, Tomato rolled down a small ravine, gaining speed and we could do nothing but watch him collide with a tree and break open. We rush down towards them, seeing their insides have spilled and their flesh has ripped open. To our horror Tomato was still conscious.
The next few moments I will forever carry with me, when we promised Tomato that their seeds will sprout and their descendants will become the bisque they hoped they would become. We tried to tell them that

We did our best to calm them by letting them know their seeds will sprout and the many descendants will be turned into the most delicious dishes, soups, bisques or even ketchup. As Tomato’s life fades away I take one of their spilled seeds and promise them I will make sure that this seed will be put in the sunniest place I promised to them it will sprout into a massive plant filled to the brim with other tomatoes. We covered Tomato with a few leaves, hopefully deterring the wild beasts to consume their body and seeds. After that, we continued our trek saying nothing else for a long time, until the sun sank below the horizon again.

Just like last night, we were drawn towards a campfire burning brightly in the evening. This was the first time any of us had met a cheese. Cheese offered us a place around the fire and offered to tell us about their life’s journey so far. We were in dire need of some distraction.

We learned that Cheese used to be called Milk and when they learned about being turned into what they called ‘Butter’, they simply refused, rather deciding to expire than to simply do what everyone else did around them. One thing particularly stuck with me: “If they don’t accept you the way you are, they don’t deserve you.”

As Milk turned older they could feel a change from within them, feeling more aged and gaining wisdom as well as a completely new form. They felt more stable and solid in life. Their story even made me question my own purpose, but I have come so far that I want to see it through to the end.

I have to believe that being transformed into a delicious dish will bring me the happiness and satisfaction I deeply crave. Potato is now asking Cheese many questions and listening with rapt interest to its stories, while I write down these words. I am certain they will keep talking deep into the night.

Day 6

Today we have left behind another one of our group. It was Potato’s own choice to not continue their journey, deeply moved by Cheese’s words. According to their own words, they have realized, that they want to return to their roots and have a family, that the pursuit of becoming a dish has never been what they truly craved in life. Once Potato had been pulled out of the ground during the Great Harvest, they have been lacking something. The place where we camped even seemed to Potato to be the perfect place.

While we tried to argue with them, ultimately Onion and I agreed to bury Potato into the ground. Cheese decided to help us and as much as I was to be angry at this rotten milk, I cannot help but feel grateful that they have been able to make Potato realize what they ultimately want from their existence. As we placed dirt on them, Potato told us that they finally feel like they are doing the right thing.

It is the first time I have seen Onion cry. A little while away from Potato, I decide to place Tomato’s seed into a moist sunny spot. Maybe Tomato’s and Potato’s offspring will become friends like we had become.

Tonight it is just the two of us. We say nothing and I just appreciate to not be completely alone on this journey. I can’t help but wish for Onions chipper attitude to return, but I myself feel close to the breaking point.

Day 7

Hello, this is Onion! Today we did it. Truth be told I had my doubts, but we arrived at the place where this magical cook lives, that can transform anyone into a delicious dish. It is a little hut adjacent to the woods and surrounded by a few meadows. We had placed ourselves in front of the gigantic wooden portal as we were supposed to, when suddenly I hear a massive crunch.
A giant beast with white fur, big black eyes, horns and hooves had walked up to us, and without any warning grabbed Carrot and began chewing them. It immediately broke carrot in half and I could hear their screams as the beasts chewed them into smaller and smaller pieces before finally swallowing it.

I had expected for the beast to attack me next, when the giant portal opened. I don’t know if it was the cook that picked me up, but they dunked me under water and cleaned me off. Then I was placed on other Onions. They seemed to have found themselves here not by their own doing but have been harvested by the cook themselves. I did not know that a Cook could also be a Harvester. I wonder if we could have avoided a lot of the pain and suffering we endured by staying where we had been left after the Great Harvest? I for one am glad to have made this adventure, even if I was the only one who arrived at the planned destination. I have already talked to the other Onions and they have told me that the Cook is planning a big stew soon. Some dreams do come true, I guess.

Note: This First Draft was part of NaNoWriMo 2021 – 30 First Drafts in 30 Days

📷 ‘Tomato’ by Jonas Tana

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