Avaline wrapped the blue scarf over her head and tied it behind as Art locked the front door. A cloudy evening, she noticed how many roses hung near the gate. They walked the mile to the market with the usual chat about this house, or that garden, diverting back to the film they’d watched the night before “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” with Maggie Smith.
“Any more thoughts?” Art asked.
“No, not really, no more than we’ve already. I think you’re right though, everyone reflected Jean Brody, even her painter/lover saw only, her face in everything. No one had any room to be themselves. She made a cult of her, the crème de la crème.”
“ Literally, but she couldn’t see it, she was actually surprised by the betrayal. That scene where the young student looks at herself in the hall mirror, as Jane Brody goes on from the dining room telling her she’s the dependable type...that was the turning point, it set up the fall.”
They reached the market, Avaline had gotten into the habit of shopping late. She liked the almost closing feel, the calm. It was so slow that one checker just sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at her register and as if on stage. Avaline kept the voice, surprisingly good, at her ears periphery as she split up the list with Art and went over to measure out spices.
The spices were kept in mason jars set on their sides, their lids labeled in alphabetical order, as they’d been for the twenty years Avaline and Art had shopped here. Fortunately, as the rest of the world rushed on, this small town market had kept it’s 70’s hippie flavor. She was after anise seed, cinnamon sticks, nutmegs, sumac, and white stevia. Pulling down the the jars needed as she scanned from Angelica to Yarrow. There was nothing worse than someone hovering, who just needed, to slip in quick beside you for a chili powder fill, in this tight corner of the shop, so this evening she’d spread out having it all to herself. Each spice brought its encoded memory and longings through smell. She noticed the cinnamon sticks were no longer the sturdy cassia with a sharp bite, but Ceylon, true cinnamon with its thin layers that crumble under a mortar, its subtle warmth, and with...citrus and cloves? Just a day ago she’d made a pain d'épice, with rye flour and honey, an overnight fermentation using a sweet spice mixture copied out of Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery”, or at least first copied and then adapted, adding white pepper to the mix: 4 teaspoons white pepper, 4 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 2 whole nutmegs. Her head reliably full of proportions and ingredients.
Art met her at the spices, and they went through the checkout together. The “Over the Rainbow” cashier, was like white fluorescent lights to Avaline.
Her over emphasized, “AND HOW ARE YOU?” grated and felt like something had been taken instead of given. I wish she’d just sing, and not assault me saccharine. It feels vampire under her smarm. Avaline thought, but I’m too harsh, she’s just a singer without a spotlight--I should throw her flowers instead.
Art and Avaline were quiet on the walk home, both lost in their thoughts. For Art, it was enough to be alive on this May evening and hear the tower clock chime eight. He had no particular focus, just meandering. Avaline, eye wandered from yard to yard, looking closer at a peony with interesting inner markings, or pointing out the doe with her new fawn to Art. Her cashier irritation forgotten. She thought about toasting up the leftover pain d'épice for Art when they got home.
Hi I'm Sido Maroon,