The stall in Spitalfields Market, London, sells silver jewellery, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. I edge closer to take a look. Beside me a woman of about 50 is talking to the stall owner, an older Indian man. The man’s right arm is poised mid-air as he holds up a rack of bracelets for her to choose from.
‘And so I had my bracelet,’ the woman says as if part way through an account. Her accent is Canadian, I decide. ‘The one I had always wanted.’ She takes a breath, just a tiny one. ‘And when my father died, I put it on him. He wore it to the grave.’
The stall owner thrusts the display closer to her.
‘And then I got another one. And coming through customs from the States, I had to take it off at the security check. And somehow I lost it.’
The man nods again. A very slight movement. He glances at me.
I inspect a pair of silver earrings. They are lovely, but I am unsure. It will all depend on what price the man wants for them. I send him just the tiniest of glances. Perhaps?
‘It was plain silver but it had these little elephants by the clasp.’ I hear that sharp slight intake of breath again. The woman’s breath almost whistles. ‘It is hard to describe exactly. But it was so clever, and the detail was just perfect.’
She takes another breath. Now I try to interpret the stall owner’s expression. I wonder if it matches mine. I cast a longer glance this time, one that looks down at my wrist watch. I give a little – a very tiny – impatient sigh. The stall owner notices. I sense him nod.
‘And, why I cared about it so much –’
The stall owner catches my eye. He grasps the display of bracelets with his other hand. He selects one of the bracelets. ‘This one is also perfect,’ he says, thrusting it towards the woman. He shoves it over her wrist. ‘This one you don’t take off.’
Kate Mahony’s short stories and flash fiction have been published internationally in literary journals and anthologies and shortlisted in a number of competitions. She has a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. She lives in New Zealand.