The Farmers' Market | Sean Cunningham

On the first Saturday, on my way to the farmers' market, I was accosted by Alice—of Wonderland

fame—and beseeched to rescue her friends, the leeks, from the tyranny of gnashing teeth. I did as

requested and bought every leek in the market, returning them to her, unharmed. She never

acknowledged me, but instead set about drawing faces on each leek and placing them inside

oversized milk bottles whilst—to herself, or to the leeks—singing: Over in Killarney, many years ago...

    On the second Saturday, en route once more, I chanced upon a sinkhole, measuring a rough

    three feet in diameter but, by the reckoning of all my senses, bottomless. I tossed in a ten

    pence piece, hearing only silence until out spewed the riches of Babylon, El Dorado, and

    ancient Timbuktu. But all turned to rotting flesh in my hands, seeping between my fingers

    to the floor.

        On the third Saturday, I awoke early—in a foul temper—and sat in my kitchen,

        contemplating missing the farmers' market, as the fresh daylight broke over the

        garden wall. The rays were blocked, however, by the materialisation of a

        less-than-divine being atop my stove. She spoke her name and buoyed my soul with

        the manic fervour of her inimitable tongue; she filled my heart to its very limits and

        never blinked once. We shared a black tea, and out the door I went.

            On the fourth Saturday, I made it to the farmers' market without prior

            incident and found it deserted, but for the glorious wealth of fresh produce

            available. I picked up a cauliflower and a force slapped it from my hand, I

            picked up a bunch of spring onions only for the same to happen again. I held

            out my hand, with coins in my palm, and watched them disappear. I took the

            cauliflower and the spring onions, along with a turnip and some blue rice,

            and cried with purposeless joy.

                On the fifth Saturday—the rarest Saturday of them all—I instigated

                the Great Farmers' Market Riot of 1992. I forget the exact reason

                why, it changes often; I've said before that it was due to the

                increasing price of mushrooms; I've also said that it was because of

                the disrespect I received after laying claim to the final jar of piccalilli

                from across the market. Whatever the reason was, it resulted in the

                place going up in flames—the purity of the wares only stoking the

                inferno. It went down in history as the largest fire created on Earth

                and that's something I take bittersweet pride in. We danced around

                the blaze for thirteen years, non-stop, forgetting life, forgetting death,

                forgetting love and hate. Forgetting all but our shameful names.

Sean Cunningham is a writer of very short poetry and prose, from Liverpool. His work has appeared in Gravel, FIVE:2:ONE, Indiana Review Online, formercactus, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @sssseanjc.