“Give me water,” said the Gila dragon, in a voice like sand hissing over the desert floor. I’ve read the Tomato Thief, Jackalope Wives and one other about a possum. “There’s not much point.” She opened her mouth, and Grandma saw that her tongue was black, and there was a thick silver ring through it. On a rock above the ocotillo, there was a pale splotch. The owner had been barefoot. Grandma Harken herself had noticed that the tracks took some odd turns sometimes, to avoid a wash or a particular stone—turns that no human would have introduced to the line. It wasn’t anything you’d notice if you weren’t looking for it. There were three of them, planted in a triangle, covered in heavy green balls. His mouth fell open in surprise—she saw a glint of silver in his tongue—and he said something frantic in O’odham. Grandma Harken stood, thoughtful, and took a long drink of water. “From Spangler’s cow.”, (She did not know why she told the mockingbird-woman this—it seemed unlikely that the odd enchanted creature would be familiar with Spangler or her cow. And generally they do not glow like foxfire. The garden was wreathed in beans and the little green husks of tomatillos were beginning to dangle from the sprawling plants. Me encanta cómo ha captado la traductora esa cualidad. Crítica completa: Sabes que estás leyendo el libro correcto cuando una abuela armada que planta tomates en el desierto dice que no descarta el asesinato si se encuentra con quien se los está robando. They thought they’d owned the railroads. Grandma Harken cursed herself for a fool and poured the last of her water out over the dragon’s tongue. People get awfully tetchy when you point a shotgun at their spirits. After a few moments of standing there, glowing like anything, the mockingbird dropped into the center of the bushes. thank you very much!!! We will not speak of the fourth. Her voice was thick. She had almost succeeded in putting the previous tomato out of her mind. And it was true that you could walk the rails until you died of thirst, and you’d never see the shadow of a saguaro lying over the tracks. A serpent with tiny, poisonous eyes slithered free, tail whipping as it fled. I set it myself.”. She is best known for the webcomic Digger and the children's books Dragonbreath and Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew. When someone in the desert asks for water, you give it to them. “Old age,” said Tomas, who was always extremely respectful but had a sense of humor anyway. I worry about you out there alone.”. “Or I’ll get caught with my pants around my ankles,” she said to the mule’s ears, “and I’ll die with a stupid expression on my face. You can find more of her work at. “I ain’t losing my mind,” she said firmly. Her ribs heaved. One of the smaller ones was starting to come ripe, and she was looking forward to it more than a little. Grandma stamped. She could feel chisel marks under her fingers. It ain’t natural. Around the edge of the dragon’s teeth, the flesh gaped open and something fell out. I’ve not read any of your other works, but please be assured I will find them now. Not a temple mound nor—. She remembered the cholla-bone girl’s face. A few flat weeds crawled across the ground and despite everything, Grandma Harken felt a gardener’s urge to pull them. “Were you going to eat that?”. Grandma Harken looked around suspiciously and went back inside to make tea. This is wonderful! Sometimes the world folded around them and the tracks were bare feet. It’ll offend Spook-cat.”. Anna put a hand on Grandma’s arm and shook her head. The fence was undisturbed. When white men came to lay iron rails across the land, the land didn’t take kindly to it. She put her garden shears in her apron pocket and made sure that her shotgun was loaded up with rock salt. Grandma Harken had been watching her tomatoes very closely for the last few days, and not just to catch the hornworm caterpillars. There were three of them. Much.”, “Sit, sit. Add the pureed tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, sprig of thyme, & a 1/4 teaspoon of both salt & pepper. Grandma Harken knew more about shapechangers than anyone in town would have guessed, and that meant that she knew enough to be careful. Her second was that bears generally had better manners, and certainly kept themselves cleaner. The herb leaves rustled and the bean plants whispered to each other farther down in the garden. “Weren’t nothing,” she said. “No!” cried Marguerite. “Thank you, Jun.”, The girl with bones made of cholla ribs said, “Who are the used-up people?”, “Hohokam,” said Grandma, which was a thing she hadn’t known she knew until she said it. It is a sideways return to the world of “Jackalope Wives,” which won the Nebula in 2014 for best short story, and is the only other story of hers that I have read. Well, and now I know why she wasn’t entirely keen on curse-breaking. Again, this picture book has a sequence. I have a volunteer tomato plant that surprised me … “One in particular, then,” said Grandma, and set out to describe the place where the world was folded and the train tracks ran through it. " The Tomato Thief," by Ursula Vernon, appeared in Apex Magazine issue 80, published on January 05, 2016. Ursula Vernon is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Mythopoeic Awards. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot & cook for 40 minutes. It makes me think of some of Zenna Henderson’s stories, and of collections of folktales where the Trickster gets all the best lines. She put her hand in her pocket, looking for something else—a weapon, a seed, she didn’t know what—and found something smooth and leathery under her fingers. She saw the blunt wedge of the Gila dragon’s head, and then it drew back and slammed forward like a hammer. The tomatoes go missing. Reseña completa en Libros Prohibidos: Me ha parecido un texto estupendo, calentito y casero y aun así extraño. “We’ll see what kind of rat bastard steals an old lady’s tomatoes,” she grumbled. Falling asleep when she was supposed to be standing guard—what was that? There is a person there.” He nodded twice, with his eyes still closed. A whole day could not have passed in the ruins of the used-up people, but perhaps time had folded a little oddly too. This one fits into the Native American tradition, with some interesting twists. She stood at the farthest point of the bend, a foot on each tie. Her ears were as long as her arms. Once or twice they belonged to a jackrabbit. But Grandma Harken was extremely useful to have around and knew more about dangerous desert spirits than anyone else, so people shushed their whispering neighbors and smiled politely when Grandma passed. “All right, then,” she said. You have an amazing touch for world-building! A light burned in the window, though, and after a moment the door slammed, and one of Tomas’s sons came out to meet her. She’d looked at it in sunset and thought that it’d be ripe this morning. It took a long moment for her eyes to adjust. The roof had fallen in on one side and the tops of the walls had the slumped-pottery look of weathered clay. It was late when she reached the stable. “I might’ve been gone days.”. “Not really. Also, if you were very polite, you might be able to beg a few tomato seeds from her. “Flying’s less fun than you’d think, but it’s got its moments. “And you were never born that way, either.”, Grandma Harken smiled sourly. It slammed her into the ruined adobe wall. It's a marvelous southwestern desert story with an original mythology that tips its hat to Native American and Russian folklore (check out Koschei), and it's free online at Apex … This summer I planted one cherry tomato plant, one strawberry plant, and some radishes. When her daughter Eva asked her to move into town, to be a little closer, Grandma Harken refused. She tried to think about what she could teach anyone, let alone a girl who was already part of the desert, and the thought was overwhelming. Grandma Harken nodded. The shadows on the hill were clean and crisp. Never had any patience for riddles. (Privately Grandma suspected that was nothing like his name, but she wouldn’t have given her real name to the cold-king either.) It clamped down on the cold-king and no power on earth could have freed him. “Too much talking, now.” She drank the coffee greedily. She likes fairy-tale retellings, gardening, and has strong opinions about heirloom beans. The skin underneath was raw and clear fluid oozed from beneath the scales. “Go fuss over someone who’ll appreciate it.”, Eva smiled faintly. Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Apex Magazine. … I know we usually cross paths, but as it was Sunday and I did not want to go to your house and risk intruding on your peace and quiet. They stood in the station itself, not the main platform, but the small room before it where the train priest spoke to the engines. Grandma’s eyes flicked to the woman’s strange orange ones. Esta abuela es divertida, descarada, lenguaraz, sabia, y lo mejor de todo, creíble. No, she had not been a dream. “Thank you,” said Marguerite, and “Thank you,” said John, pronouncing the words slowly and carefully. I suspect, as I gaze out at the cholla in my front yard, that if I’d I walk a bit further into the desert I might run into Grandma Harken…I hope! Grandma could understand about twenty words of O’odham if the other person spoke very slowly and clearly, which he hadn’t. If there is anything to be seen, the train-gods will see it.”, She gestured, and the grandchild appeared. The cold-king spun around as masonry struck him, and the Gila dragon reached in and closed its jaws over him. More Galleries of Tomato Thief :. “Whereabouts you from?” she asked. “Have a seat.”. His people were to the south and east. The resulting plant wouldn’t be up to her standards, but it would still bear a damn fine tomato. Our protagonist is an elder (the term isn't used in the story), Grandma Harken. “Like hell you will!” Grandma scowled over her tea. “Don’t mind being a bird,” she said. “Ah, hell,” said Marguerite, somewhere off to her left. by mumsandstories.com January 16, 2018. The u/TheTomatoThief community on Reddit. Gracias a ella, siguiendo su estela, el estilo de toda la obra es así de fresco, natural, simpático y gamberro. The footprint had five clear toes. “Not tonight,” she said grimly. That’s what their name means, the used-up ones. That was the Mariposa. “They’re always birds.”. Veer is determined to solve the mystery and find out who is stealing his delicious tomatoes. “You planning on shooting me?” asked her captive. The roadrunner slammed into the fowl’s back, driving its long beak into the fowl’s neck. The way was mostly natural, but someone had smoothed down the stone a little, long ago. Her heart was hammering in a way that she didn’t like, and her vision pulsed in time to her heartbeat. Probably warning me off. Her mouth was full of blood. Por favor, más personajes principales como ella en los libros. “Nothing out there can hear you,” said Anna. That was a child that should never be taken out of the desert. She reached into her mouth and pried the silver cuff out of her tongue. In the end she got two more nights. Worrying didn’t do any good, but somehow that never stops anybody. She grows the best tomatoes in the area, and they are getting stolen. She had a dark grey back and the white belly of a mockingbird. Thank you! Anna sent another grandchild to get him tea and put a blanket around his shoulders herself. I’m not looking to die just yet. It takes time to grow it back.”, “Seems a fragile sort of place for a soul,” said Grandma Harken. The pre-dawn air was sharp and gray and seamless. If she lived long enough to talk to the cholla-bone girl again, she would tell her this one. That was someone a little more like Grandma Harken than either of them were like fully human folk. Not the time. Veer cannot wait to taste the tomatoes he grows in his terrace garden. There were broken pots in the corners, and a few intact ones, draped with old flower sacks and coarse-cured hides. “Well,” said Grandma. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it, as near as she could tell. After they were gone, Grandma fell backward and just breathed for awhile. It did not fight back but squirmed against her, trying to escape, leave a trail of slime like a slug over her paws. Whatever they might be under the feathers. “Are you dead?” asked the coyote with interest. “I’ll ask politely,” said Grandma Harken. “Not now. The mockingbird-woman went inside the house. She could see the mockingbird flying, the sagebrush casting fantastic shadows, the saguaros briefly silver instead of black—and then it was a distant spark dwindling into the desert. “You’re the one I worry about.”, “I’m not dead yet,” said her mother. Then she opened the garden gate and followed the spark of fire into the desert. She poured herself a cup. The dragon swallowed, and then there was a crack like thunder. OK, so I liked the whole thing, but my big take-away was how much Spook-cat reminds me of my kitty, Eowyn, who has slept out in the living room the last three nights, because I just got a new blanket and she’s scared of it :3. Marguerite fell heavily out of the air and the roadrunner boy helped her up. It had all worked out as well as could be expected, but it had been a worrisome mess while it lasted. (Spook-cat was a tiny ginger tomcat who lived in perpetual terror of loud noises, sudden movements, and unexpected shadows. The coyote sniffed at it, unimpressed. Hundreds came and thousands died and hundreds more came to replace them. She kept her eyes lidded. She cleared her throat and spoke to the rails: “The Mother of Trains knows my name.”. It lifted its great mottled head. “Well. Its flesh was soft and spongy, slick with fluid. In the dimness, she could see a figure standing up. And owls.” She shuddered, and the feathers on her head all puffed up like a crest. It was an old adobe, same as all the other houses in town, but it had a brightly painted balcony on the second floor and faded lanterns hung from the ends of the corner beams. That’s all?—then set out. “They know better than to try, and anyway there’s no footprints.” The only marks on the dusty ground were from Grandma Harken’s own sandals. “The ones who built all the canals. She stood looking down at the dishcloth in her hands, and said finally, “I’m worried about Brandon, that’s all.”, “He’s back east,” said Grandma Harken. The shadows were growing very long. I’ll try to sleep more once I’ve stood off my tomato thief. If she leapt, she could knock it out of the air—if she could even leap. She looked into its eye and saw her face reflected back. “Then you had better get up,” said the coyote. “Can I do anything?” she asked. The land doesn’t like it.” She considered this, and then added, “Please.”, “I do not care what the land likes,” said the cold-king. “She broke her arm when she was small,” said Anna quietly. “Don’t suppose you can tell me anything,” said Grandma Harken. Grandma Harken had spent the better part of fifty years growing tomatoes and she had a spot in her garden that held water just a fraction longer than anywhere else. She sat down in the rocking chair with the coffee mug in one hand and prepared to wait. Her people hadn’t been involved one way or the other. “I won’t come back,” said Marguerite. “Garden only feeds one,” said Grandma, which was at least three-quarters of a lie. She thought of the lessons in the desert, and thought that this girl probably knew them all already. Other side of the Gila.”, Grandma Harken nodded. Not quite finished, then, thought Grandma, and launched herself at the hare. And we’re all introduced now. “Come out from between them, and don’t do anything sudden.”. Never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee. But even Saint Anthony, who wrestled demons in the desert, might have been taken aback by the size of this one. We do have one other story by Ursula called “The Dark Birds.” Here’s the link to it: https://apex-magazine.com/the-dark-birds/, This won the Hugo Award in 2017 for best novelette: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Novelette. “I’m bad at that,” said Grandma cheerfully, as she tried to pierce the darkness. Mostly it made her tired. They needed staking. He’s not the enchanter, anyhow. He was huge and hairy and his head was sunk down between his shoulders. Sleep wasn’t coming tonight anyway. Written by Niyatee Parikh Sharma and illustrated beautifully by Alankrita Amaya, the book is on the search for the tomato thief. “You can wait ‘til the owls roost, if you want,” said Grandma. The mockingbird flung herself into the air after it. (Grandma Harken thought of herself as an old lady, because she was one. I’ll explode.”, Anna laughed. I didn’t grow up with this set of stories and myths, but now I need to go learn. It was his wounded eyes that made him look so young. Some people said that she lived out there because she liked her privacy, and some said that it was because she did black magic in secret. Bird bones and rotting scraps of fruit made a scattered midden, although she could not smell anything. The fowl hissed like a snake, trying to get into the canyon and more open air. “Not tonight.”. She stomped down and found a nearly ripe tomato, which she yanked off the vine and took inside. 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