The Jug Game
by Jennifer Moore
Annalisa had begged her father to bring her, imagining dizzying rides and pink stick-clouds of candyfloss, but it wasn’t that kind of fair. Loud-mouthed men with red faces haggled over scrawny roosters and sickly calves; a bearded woman lifted weights to grudging applause; barefooted children wrestled in the muddy arena while their parents cheered drunkenly from the sidelines.
“I need to see a man about a horse,” her father told her, motioning to the beer tent. “I won’t be long.”
Annalisa wandered aimlessly from stall to stall, clutching her coins tight inside her pocket for safe-keeping. She stopped at a low table filled with mismatched ceramic jugs, oblivious to the old man peering out at her from behind the fluted lips and handles.
“I thought you weren’t coming,” he wheezed.