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Thread: The Spice Market

  1. #1
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    The Spice Market

    The Spice Market



    She wanted just the flavour of love, the briefest touch of it on the tongue. Love like cardamom, warm and mellow. Love that was safe. She should have known that love, like her cooking, never quite turned out the way she expected.


    *


    Walking resolutely towards the town, Alice was in a grim mood. It was a day of thwarted plans. It had started when her mother phoned early, informing her that she had ‘had a dream’. Alice’s Mum’s dreams were legend. Portents of doom, death and adultery revealed themselves graphically in her sleep. Alice shivered at the memory of those fated words, “Love,” her Mum had said “I’ve had a dream about you…”

    She brushed the memory from her mind and stomped on. No time to think, waste of time thinking, she had to get to the supermarket pronto. Of course she’d have been there quicker if her car would have started…but this was another of those things she was determined, for the moment, to forget about. Instead she focussed on the tap, tap, tap of her feet on the pavement, and in her mind she planned the meal she would be cooking tonight for, hopefully, soon to be boyfriend Dave.

    She felt a small thrill of excitement when she thought about her plans for the evening. A thrill tempered with trepidation. Dave was the new guy at work. They’d spent a little time together, flirted a little, and finally they were going to take it that next step further. She had first date nerves. It had been a long time since Alice had been in a relationship and she was going to make sure that it all went to plan. She’d planned a simple meal, a salad for starters, steak and potatoes to follow and ice cream for dessert. Nothing fancy, nothing that could go horribly wrong, safe and straightforward, just like Dave.

    The rain arrived without warning, fat and exuberant like a gregarious old uncle rumbling with laughter. It reached out and touched all within its reach, pummelling people and pavements with playful intent, teasing its way through fabric in search of skin. Alice cursed her luck. Umbrella-less and caught out she ran from the exposure of the street to the nearest available cover.

    She took a moment to get her bearings, and was surprised to find herself within the tented environs of the market which sprawled in every direction, thick with motion. Traders called out to unprepared passers-by those, like Alice, drawn in by the sudden downpour. The hum and rush of voices was overwhelming, unexpected, in this otherwise peaceful northern town. She felt her senses assaulted in every way. A heady mix of spice heavy air filled her nostrils tainting her taste buds, the rainbow colours of the tarpaulins tantalised her eyes, the brush of people against her as they wandered past, wandered through, was like a slow massage against her skin. In the midst of all this movement and chaos her Mum’s ominous words leapt back into her mind, “Today is the day…”. She shook her head, ‘come on Alice,’ she whispered to herself ‘pull yourself together.’

    Alice waited but the rain seemed to have no intention of leaving. People brushed by, jostling, grumbling. She looked at her watch, 3:44pm. If the rain didn’t stop soon there would be no way she could make it to the supermarket and back, and get ready in time. Turning around she faced the imposing interior of the market thick with bodies, a dark foreboding labyrinth, a thing of her nightmares. She had always found markets a little sordid, a place of cheap things and cheap people, and the thought of going in there voluntarily was disturbing. Still, she was in a fix, and Dave was worth it, she thought. Steeling herself for sensory carnage she took a deep breath and ploughed in.

    Moments later she was lost, truly lost. In every direction was the same view, the same but different, the scenery moved like shifting sand. The market was a maze, and she the lab mouse, running, running, running, turning corners, seeking out the cheese. Crowds of people swelled and rushed like waves, buffeting, drowning her. Overhead the ceaseless heavy drumming of the rain battered the tarpaulin roof, an almost continuous sound like a waterfall rushing in her ears. Everywhere were cries and shouts, the saffron scented atmosphere heavy and cloying. In her head her mother’s warning clamoured against the shouts of the traders ‘…you won’t make it…you won’t make it…’ Alice was determined it wouldn’t be true. She turned and turned. What was she doing here? Her mind was so altered, she couldn’t remember. She stood still, her head in her hands. She felt like crying. If only it would stop, just for a moment.

    A hand touched her elbow; “Miss?” a voice queried “Miss, are you alright?” It took a moment for Alice to struggle out of the depths of her overwhelmed state, and realise what was happening. “Are you alright?” the voice repeated, a man’s voice, warm as cinnamon. She felt it lifting her, a hand pulling her out of the quick sand. She reached for it.

    She opened her eyes. Facing her was a man, a spice trader she guessed from the staining on his hands. He had skin the colour of nutmeg, mischievous dark chocolate eyes. A ripple of warmth flowed from him, him and the scent of the spices on his skin. It made her shiver, momentarily. “Here,” he whispered “sit, until you feel better.” He grasped her elbow lightly, and led her around the stall into the back, helping her down into a striped deck chair.

    “Thank you.” she murmured with difficulty. He smiled, his teeth brilliant against the rich tones of his skin, and disappeared.

    Alice was confused. There was a fog in her mind which she couldn’t seem to breach, a scented fog. Something had happened to her. She wasn’t sure what it was. Her mother’s warning chased her through the fog, inescapable “it will come to you in a veil of scent…”, ‘it can’t be true’ she thought, but deep down she was beginning to wonder.

    The man reappeared at her side, kneeling in front of her, a steaming cup of something in his hand. He passed it to her. “Drink this,” he said “it will make you feel better.” Alice sipped at the hot liquid, and a sudden flood of heat ripped through her. Stunned she looked into his eyes, those twinkling eyes, a quizzical look in her own. He smiled again, “It is hot chocolate,” he said “with chilli. It is good for reawakening the senses.” Alice smiled back at him.

    “It’s lovely, thank you, I feel much better already.”

    “What is your name?”

    “Alice.”

    “Alice,” he mouthed, as though testing the word on his tongue “and what is it that brings you to the market today? If you don’t mind me saying, it did not seem to agree with you.” Alice hesitated, something was happening, but she wasn’t sure what. She giggled in her nervousness, the nervousness that disappeared each time his warming voice moved the air.

    “It was the rain.” she started “I wasn’t really intending to come to the market you see, but my car didn’t start, and I had to walk, and then somehow I ended up here. I meant to go to the supermarket you see,” she hesitated again, not sure of how to proceed, and if she did where it would lead.

    “The supermarket? Perhaps the rain was being your friend and showing you a better way?” he teased. “I ask you, what can those sterile plastic trays offer you that you can’t get here?”

    “Well, for a start I know where everything is at the supermarket.”

    “Aah, the comfort of the familiar. But perhaps staying with the things we know is not always best. Perhaps sometimes we must just wander, and let fate find us the right path.”

    “I suppose.” Alice whispered, quieted by the reminder of fate, and its hold over her. “today is the day…”

    “But I tease,” he smiled “perhaps I can help you. What was it that you seek?”

    “Well, I’m supposed to be making a meal tonight; I have a…friend coming tonight.”

    “A man friend?” he questioned, eyebrow raised.

    “Um, yes.” Alice squirmed.

    “And what are you planning to make for this man?”

    “I was going to make a salad, steak and potatoes, and ice cream.” He shook his head derisorily.

    “No, no, no. This is no good. Do you like this man?” he asked, a challenging tone in his voice.

    “I guess so.” Alice hesitated.

    “If you like this man, if you want to capture his heart you must make food that puts fire in his belly, food that warms his soul, not this empty bland food which gives sustenance alone. To capture a man’s heart you must sustain his heart, not just his body.”

    “I’m not sure he’d like that.” Alice said.

    “Then you must ask yourself, if a man does not have passion in his food, will he have passion in his love?” He reached out and touched her on the arm.

    Alice couldn’t speak. Inside she was shaking, her mother was right, something had happened, something terrible, something amazing. It wasn’t possible but here she was, staring into the eyes of a man, a stranger but yet he knew her, knew her better than anyone. “What is your name?” she asked.

    “Jamal.”

    “Pleased to meet you Jamal.” Alice held out her hand, and he shook it leaving the taint of his spices on her fingers. “Perhaps you could teach me something about spices?”


    *

    That morning Alice’s mother had called early. She had a message.

    “Love, I’ve had a dream about you. This date you have tonight, you will not make it, it is nothing. He is not the man for you. Today is the day you will find love, true love. It will come to you, in a veil of scent, unexpected and wonderful. Do not turn it away.”
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  2. #2
    Registered User Granny5's Avatar
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    Fifth, this is just beautiful. I loved it!
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    "All we are saying is give PEACE a chance." Beatles[/SIZE]
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  3. #3
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Thank you Granny

    It's been a really long time since I last wrote a short story, and they were never really my forte. Your comments mean a lot to me.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
    Live. Be. Sing. symphony's Avatar
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    I found it quite interesting, fifth. In a couple of places i thought the punctuations could be a bit better. But all over its crisp and spicy.
    .
    ...the smell of flowers through metal labyrinths.

  5. #5
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by symphony View Post
    I found it quite interesting, fifth. In a couple of places i thought the punctuations could be a bit better. But all over its crisp and spicy.
    Thanks for reading symphony, and for the comments. I'll double check the punctuation - thanks for pointing this out (I am a skim reader, and writer - I think!).
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

  6. #6
    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
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    I loved the similes used by you! Very good description and an enjoyable read.
    Last edited by Pensive; 10-31-2007 at 07:24 AM.
    I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.

  7. #7
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    There are a couple of technical rough spots you could smooth out. For instance, the sentence early in the piece that contains the phrase "soon to be boyfriend Dave "reads a little awkwardly.

    Also, "all right" is two words, two "l's" in "all."

    The introduction of the character, Jamal, is okay, but some of his dialogue seems a little too much "telling" rather than "showing." His later speech is much better.

    The foreshadowing of the mother's dream in the story could be a little more subtle, then the description of her
    dream would be more of a surprise or a "kicker" to end the story.

    The best part of your piece was sustaining the spice metaphors throughout.(Maybe the hot drink could be a more aromatic herbal tea than hot chocolate, perhaps.



    In general, I'd say that this story was a pretty good effort.
    Keep at it.

    auntie

  8. #8
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Oh yeah, and I forgot to say that the story reminded me a little of "The Goblin Market." I mean that as a compliment.

  9. #9
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Thanks Auntie, I appreciate the comments & the suggestions. Just one point :

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Also, "all right" is two words, two "l's" in "all."

    auntie
    from the Oxford English Dictionary :

    "alright" (adjective, adverb & exclamation) variant spelling of ALL RIGHT

    Perhaps it's an English vs American usage thing?! It's more common to see 'alright' in UK.

    Have you ever tried hot chocolate with chilli? It blows your mind!!!


    Pensieve - thanks for reading & for your comments
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  10. #10
    Phil Captain Pike's Avatar
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    I really liked The Spice Market. Gee, I mean I had the idea you were a young person, which might still be true. I had to look up a bunch of words that you used very well. One in particular, I couldn't remember ever having seen this particular form, "derisorily", which was not in the Merriam-Webster, but whose meaning was defined in dictionary.com. Reading your work was very humbling for me. This site has, somehow, attracted some very talented folks. Again, I feel privileged to be a member.

    Truthfully (what I wrote above is true too), I began scanning the beginning of your story, AND COULD NOT STOP UNTIL IT WAS FINISHED! You say it is a short story. I think you could continue on with chapter two. In any case, please keep writing and posting. -- Phil

    Ничего нет лучше для исправления, как прежнее с раскаянием вспомнить.

  11. #11
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Thanks Phil, for your very kind and humbling comments

    Oh, and thank you for posting on the 'write with me' thread. I'm working on a paragraph to follow - hope no one beats me to it!
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

  12. #12
    Registered User Pretty^Athens's Avatar
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    I love it! there are a very few stories that make me dream while reading and live them and your one could make me dream and live lively in it! you have a wonderful talent, write on!

  13. #13
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Thank you so much Pretty Athens It felt something like a dream writing it, so your comments mean a great deal.

    Perhaps you could join us in the 'write with me' thread? There is much talent on Lit-net, new and old. Just think what we could achieve together.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out https://biisbooks.wordpress.com/

  14. #14
    Registered User Pretty^Athens's Avatar
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    yeah i'de love to, why don't you read what i write here too? read them and give me a reviewm, that'll be great!

  15. #15
    Cat Person DickZ's Avatar
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    I'm going back in time and checking out posts that were made before I joined this forum. That's why this reply comes so much later than the original story did.

    The Spice Market is a great story - and well told.

    I agree with AuntShecky, who seems to zero in quickly on very important matters - a more abbreviated introduction to Mum's dream would have made the 'kicker' that came later much more effective. With the introduction as worded, the reader is constantly searching for words that amplify the dream. This is a possible distraction from the flow of the story, and cuts down on the reaction the reader would have when finding the whole dream at the end.

    You're probably right about the difference between alright and all right being an English versus an American issue. A famous restaurant in the very American San Antonio, Texas once gained lots of notariety by posting a sign that asked "Is Everything Alright?" - leading lots of people to say "No - your spelling isn't all right."
    Last edited by DickZ; 12-26-2007 at 03:46 PM.

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