Chapter 28: Market Day
By Whitney Emeigh
People bustled across the square in clumps. A few vendors called out in vain attempts to get people to come and look at their wares before they were good and ready to. Market day in Swynton was the weekly social event everyone looked forward to. People spruced up their nicest things and took to the square both to shop and to be seen.
Adette too had her own basket tucked in the crook of her arm. She had braved the market several times since moving outside of Swynton, but today she could feel more than just the usual amount of attention. Her recent visits seemed to have taken some of the stigma away from her presence. A few children stared up at her and weren’t immediately admonished by their mothers.
Finally, the attention got the better of her. Adette took off across the well traveled grass towards the bustling bakery. She avoided the busy front step and went immediately around to the back of the building. The basket hung from her clutched hands. Outside the back doorway, Adette swayed nervously back and forth on her feet. Lana had said to meet her here, but now she felt a bit creepy hanging around the back.
The door burst open. Smells of bread and pastries rolled out of the back door in a humid wave. On its crest came Lana. She’d put on her best dress, but had missed a few splotches of flour on her face. Adette forgot her awkwardness completely and started to laugh. Lana stopped dead in front of the doorway.
“Where is it?” she demanded while she pulled the back door shut.
“Upper right cheek, just below the middle of your bottom lip, and your hairline just above your left temple,” Adette reported dutifully. Lana dug in a pocket hidden in the side of her skirt and produced a large, clean handkerchief. She began to rub vigorously at the various flour spots until she judged they had to be gone. Her hand lowered but the handkerchief didn’t disappear. Lana leveled a very meaningful look at Adette.
“You’ve gotten it all.” Lana nodded and thrust the handkerchief back into the pocket from which it had come.
“Good. I’m ready then. Have you bought or sold anything yet?” Lana peered at Adette’s basket.
“No. I thought it would be best to wait for you. You’re more likely to know if people are being fair or not.” Lana smiled knowingly.
“That I am. You’ll not be cheated on your produce today, Adette.” The pair smirked and started back toward the square, which had grown busier still since Adette had come.
“Thank God. I suspect I’ve already lost some money,” Adette grumbled.
“That is how all small towns work, you know. They have to have a bit of your money before they get to know you. Once they get to know you, they don’t feel right being anything less than fair. Let’s call it a newcomer’s tax.”
“Well, then I suppose it’s a good thing I ran into you. Otherwise, I suspect I might have been taxed for a very long time.” Lana turned to look at Adette. She stopped and then burst into laughter.
“You might be right there, Adette. Hmm…” Lana paused staring at Adette. She stared long enough in silence that Adette began to grow nervous again. She’d just made up her mind to say something when Lana broke the silence again. “You know. Your name is a bit awkward to say. I think you need a nickname.”
Adette stared. She wasn’t sure whether to feel complimented or insulted. No one, other than teachers or her few school friends, had bothered using her name, and they’d all been far too formal to think of using a nickname.
“How about Dette?” Adette turned and lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll take that as a no. Hmm…I know! I’m calling you Addy.”
“You really don’t need to…”
“Nope. I’ve already made up my mind,” Lana said with a smirk. “You’ll be Addy to me for as long as you’re my friend.”
“Well, thanks.” Adette hoped her hesitance didn’t show. She wasn’t one for nicknames.