Always a family affair, today there were three generations behind the stall, including a woman in her late 20s. A toddler in a torn skirt tugged at her dad, telling him in her inaccurate and swoon-worthy vernacular about her grazed knee. Her relish for the bloody mess was more life-affirming than most things round here. Dad, however, didn’t break eye contact with me, or if he did, it was only to briefly take in my stupendous rack. Pushing images of his wedding ring out of my mind. The young woman stood off to one side, sullen, not joining in with the patter or the hard work of the stall.
“Or, you can just take the two?” With a start, I realised he was talking to me.
“Sorry?” I said, too loudly, feeling the heat rise in my skin.
“They’re three for two, the aubergines,” he repeated, brandishing a large aubergine in each hand.
The smile started in my eyes, somewhere inside me but beyond my control. Opening my mouth like a guppy, hopeful for sustenance. The further it opened, the more it smiled. But no sound came forth.
“I’ll give you one, you look like you need it!” he laughed. At me? With me?
I hurried away, only finding a mobile number scribbled on the brown paper bag once I rounded the Poundland corner.