Another Rough Bit of Work
by Adam Huddleston
I didn’t have anything prepared to submit this week, so I went with a few paragraphs of a rough draft I’m working on.
Jack sold assorted fruits and vegetables from a little stand on the village square. Mary sold bread from her own stand across from him. Although the two had never met (such interactions were strictly forbidden without permission from their parents) he just knew that she was going to be his wife someday.
“We got sweet jelly-fruits here! Crispy, juicy water peas,” he barked to the small, early-morning crowd meandering about the town center. One older fellow looked his direction, seemed to consider for a moment, and turned away.
“Hot, fresh rolls! Honey-baked loafs,” Mary suggested to the same group. Two ladies in the crowd made a bee-line for her stand, reaching into their leather satchels as they walked.
Jack propped his elbows on the hard, splintery wood and watched through half-closed eyes as the love of his life sold her wares and the customers walked away happily munching a couple of glazed pastries.
A little boy, no older than five, tottered up to Jack’s stand and stood there silently. His eyes widened as he looked over the selection of garden foods. A grimy little hand slowly reached out for a melon but stopped short when he saw Jack’s eyes watching him. Jack frowned melodramatically, then tossed the child the piece of fruit he’d been drooling over. The tot took a large bite of it and ran off at a gallop.
“I saw that,” a voice came to him from across the square.
Jack’s head popped up and he saw Mary grinning at him. His face turned the shade of the melon he had just donated to the little boy.
“Oh! Yeah, well, I have plenty of them in stock, so…” he trailed off.
“Those melons are worth five durons a piece. I can’t imagine your master would be too happy knowing you’re giving away his produce.”
Jack looked at her closely, trying to gauge if she was pulling his leg. Her smile broke into a large guffaw of laughter and he relaxed, laughing back in return. He reached into his front pocket, pulled out a handful of durons, and dropped them into the clay pot resting on the back corner of his stand. Then he pressed his index finger to his lips in a hushing gesture.
“Mums the word,” Mary said.
Hours passed. The sun, which had shown directly into Jack’s eyes that morning, made its slow circuit across the sky and now faced Mary. Just like their king, even the heavens seemed impartial in their cruelty.
Mary pulled a large umbrella from the darkness under her cart. Straining under the weight, she gave an awkward attempt at attaching it to the front of the stand.