art by Melissa Mead
by Fran Wilde
Morning finds the farmers' market burst into flower and fruit below the expressway. Carts and tables elbow for space, showcasing chard, sunflowers, and bushels of crabs. The bridge above thumps its irregular heartbeat as cars rush forward over concrete slabs.
By afternoon, the market will revert to its weekday form, a stained sandwich bag blowing across the shaded commuter parking lot.
If they made a camera that wouldn't disappoint memory, I'd snap this morning up as perfection, so we could walk through it whenever we wish.
You squeeze my hand, smiling because you feel it too.
We gather our vegetables and bread, then wander the outlying stands. The market's edges are where the newness is: one day a woman sells handmade buttons and soap. On a cooler morning, there's a man with iris bulbs and peonies in jars.
A quick glance around the outer ring of stalls finds jars filled with sparkling liquids, paper bags resting heavy on a stand. They beckon with chance, with textures and smells. They let us walk away, reassured that we still need nothing new in our lives.
"Let's go there," I pull at your hand.
The new stall this week is just a table. There's no banner in back, there's not even a brochure. Just a row of jars and antique, mismatched spray bottles, each bearing a label: Everlast.
I run my finger over the filigreed neck of a bottle, finger the air bulb attached with a small mesh hose. Light pricks the bottle's glass ridges, illuminates the liquid inside.
"What is this?"
The vendor looks up from his paper and pulls his feet off the table. He grins. "Not 'what is it,' darlin'. Ask, 'What does it do?'"
Tired of him already, I prepare to turn away. He sees it in my eyes and rushes to the punchline. "It makes things last forever."
"Right," you say. You like to test claims. "Prove it."