It wasn’t as if they weren’t both vegetables. Cucumber and Pickle lived next door to each other their entire lives. They played together when they were young; little gherkins oblivious to the inequality of the world around them. But when Pickle came home one day and announced to his parents he needn’t look any further; the right partner for him was just next door, they were appalled.
“They are different.”
“They aren’t as refined,” this last comment from Grandma Dill, who rarely spoke except to tsk-tsk or espouse superstitions.
“But we’ve been friends forever,” Pickle implored.
“No bread and butter,” his father said with vinegar on his tongue and that was the end of that.
Not a few hundred feet away, at Cucumber’s house, it was much of the same:
“Really. . . too salty . . . Want to spend the rest of your life in a jar?”
And so it was, Pickle and Cucumber weren’t allowed to truly be together. Their skin, though both green; too many shades apart. When they read Romeo and Juliet in class, the two were finally able to put a name on what they were experiencing; Forbidden Love. They met clandestinely under the bleachers and in shadowy corners of stairways.
“This will not do!” cried the principal upon finding them sharing a sandwich in the cafeteria.
“Why?” Pickle asked.
“You are too different,” he smirked. The bell rang, signaling their separation. They both received revised schedules. They no longer were in the same English class. They read Shakespeare alone. Bells rang. Classes started. Bells rang. Classes ended. They never shared more than a passing glance in the hallways.
Under this burden, they waited out their high school years; one day more painful than the last.
After they graduated, on a cool autumn day, a harvest day, a day Grandma Dill would have called auspicious, had she been there, the two met at a small chapel in the woods. An ultimatum had been given. A choice had been made. A sour response by Cucumber’s mother. The two chose each other and did what they could to appease Pickle’s family. It was the only family they would have, save for each other. Forbidden love didn’t mean it had to be forbidden forever.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Pickle asked.
“I will do whatever it takes,” Cucumber said and he reached for Pickle’s hand and took a tentative step towards the briny pool.
Jennifer Fliss is a New York-raised, Wisconsin- and California-schooled, Seattle-based writer. She holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a certificate in Literary Fiction from the University of Washington. Her writing can be found online and in print with publications and websites such as Brain Child, Stratus, Daily Mom, Behind the Book, BookerMarks, and The Well Read Fish.