The Market by Tale Teller

Updated: Oct 20

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Mabel had always known she was odd and so had everyone else. She was born with eyes that wandered in different directions and this seemingly small detail on her face had only had the effect of making her seem even weirder than she was. It alienated her from school friends and added to her overall peculiarity. Furthermore, when she had matured, she had grown buxom with a small shadow above her top lip. Then there was the issue with communications, or rather her lack of them. Her parents, keen to get Mable to fit in, had sent her to various therapists and life coaches in an attempt to increase her friendship ring. Alas, the friendships remained around level zero. At best people did not like her, thinking her rude, and at worst they were petrified. Sometimes, people crossed the road when they saw her clomping down the street in her 6-inch steel-toed boots with her black hair structured high above her like a pair of bird’s wings. The piercings and tattoos added to the overall effect of being just kooky. Mabel liked weird dissonant music, wore bizarre clothes, played satanic ritualistic games, and had been expressing a high level of sexual deviancy since an inappropriately young age. Her mother was forever finding effigies under her bed and the rat skins were the final straw. Mabel had had to move out. But Mable wanted love. It was time to find the one, a one just like her, who would eventually help her make another one just like them. Mable had overheard a conversation between two yummy mummies in the library. Their children, all snotty and hipster white, with those clothes that look like rags but cost a packet, played in the soft play area sharing the germs of the town. Mable thought about plague. ‘Where did you meet your husband?’ asked the one in the linen trousers. ‘At the market, answered the one in the yellow bandana, smugly ‘It was love at first sight.’ Love at first sight was something that excited Mable greatly. Mostly because it would, by definition, avoid the chance of anyone having second thoughts. The market was abuzz with the activity of buyers and sellers exchanging requests, ideas, deals, and greetings. Mable was not sure how to interact amidst such diverse people as communication had always been difficult and strained. However, she had researched all week in the run-up to market day, how to engage and impress people. She had also swotted up on jargon and definitions of things that may be sold on market stalls. She was prepped and ready for love. First was the fishmonger stall. Apart from the obvious smells, which may or may not be conducive to love, depending on viewpoint, Mable was unsure if the fish stall would be an inspiring venue to catapult feelings of lust. There was ice though, and Mable liked ice very much indeed. She edged her way towards the counter pressing her black leather coat hard against it. She spotted a suitable target. Tall with the slightly vacant look some young men wear so well. The only props were fish; and one, a large rainbow trout, with its white eyes still intact and staring at her, seemed to egg her on. It was mouthing ‘go on’ with its pouty lips. She coughed and stroked the cold wet fish scales making eyes at a young man on her right buying prawns. Then she took her fishy cold finger and licked it with the tip of her tongue from bottom to top whilst staring intently at her victim, both her eyes looking in opposite directions. ‘Fucking freak,’ he shouted, barging past her and mumbling various other expletives as he made good his escape. He didn’t look back. Not one for ever giving up, Mable made her way to the household stall. With her finger still smelling of the trout she remained hopeful and deduced, as it was a place of domesticity and homewares, it represented family, home and stability. Hoovers, kettles, bed linen, the type of things people gave at weddings. Items filled with hope that couplings would last, that life would be shared, that there was future. ‘Come on, who wants one o these then?’ Shouted a rotund man with a working-class demeanor and a cockney lilt. ‘You won’ get this any cheaper anywhere else my darlins’ he continued. Mable found herself amidst a small crowd of women all rummaging through their purses for the tenners. The only man at the stall was the fat cockney. He was really not Mabel’s type and, in the panic, Mable bought a pink toaster of Chinese origin. She put it in her black back and hoped no one saw. The next stall was the vegetable stall. It was a veritable party of colour and texture with every possible variation of phallus imaginable. Mabel's heart skipped a beat. There was a cluster of men of varying heights and widths but one in black drew her attention between the courgettes and the aubergines. It was the most perfect scenario for flirting Mable could have hoped for. She brushed past the man and grasped a courgette with one hand an aubergine in the other, shouting, 'Which one would you recommend?' The man turned to look at Mabel, but it was not a man, rather a lady of manly styling. The woman raised an eyebrow and licked her lips, remarking, with a Mae West intonation, ‘Well baby, depends how much you can take.’ Mabel dropped the vegetables and hurriedly removed herself from the sniggering group of customers. By now Mabel was beginning to lose hope. There was one stall left before she would just give up this silly experiment. It was a bad idea after all. Only yummy mummies could find success and everlasting love at the market. But the last stall filled her with an unexpected anticipation, like surprise foreplay, an emotional aperitif.  It was a DIY Hardware stall. It was butch. It exhibited hardness and strength. Power. There were tools that looked like guns. There was metal and black. There was oil and grease. There were things that sawed, cut, clasped, pinched, poked and drilled. There were things that would hurt and things that would repair. Mabel found herself in a place of extreme arousal. There were things that would electrify, shock, bound and clamp. It was almost too much and she began to turn to leave. ‘Hi,’ said a gentle voice. Mabel turned to see a slender soft-faced man of around twenty staring at her with his lips slightly parted. His lips may have quivered, she couldn’t be sure. ‘Can I help you?’ he asked, coyly. ‘Yes,’ said Mable. Gaining inner strength from his fear. ‘If I was to have a date with a man and I wanted to impress him, is there anything you sell here that may swing his favour, you know, persuade him that it was a good idea.’ ‘Yes, said the man coughing nervously and throwing shy glances at Mable’s leather coat and boots, there is a lot I can provide you with, Madam. The man was more beautiful than any man Mable had ever seen. He was as vulnerable as a baby rabbit. His wide eyes were green like pools of glass and she wondered how he would cry. He began collecting things from the stall and putting them in a pile in front of Mable. He started with a large roll of black gaffer tape, then pliers, sandpaper, candle wax, a pole and finally an industrial tub of petroleum jelly. ‘That should be about perfect for a first date, with the right person, of course, if you have found him.’ ‘Oh Yes,’ said Mable, ‘I found him right here in the market.’ © 2019 Sarnia de la Mare


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