As usual, Maya’s bright eyes were lit with the faux excitement of a merchant’s daughter. It was her turn to sell something, and until she filled her quota or until the makeshift shop stopped selling, she was trapped behind that makeshift counter. She begged her father to go relax with Shiri, maybe even learn a dance or two, but any talk of that just earned a stern talking to about how she would never find a husband by acting like a gypsy. Those girls were just selling a pleasure-filled dream. Maya wasn’t completely sure what he meant, but it didn’t sound bad, almost fun. Unfortunately, her interest was only sparked from curiosity, not advocacy. It was also possible that she was interested out of pure instinct to rebel against her overprotective father.
Just then, another buyer came up, and just then, Maya’s worn out expression once again transformed into a smile, hiding any wishes to escape the space, but maybe, this person had already unconsciously answered her small prayer. Just as he asked to see a fabric for his wife, his cool, calloused hands met with Maya’s soft, sweaty skin, the skin of a child just reaching puberty. The man’s pupils seemed to dilate as he paused, staring deeply into the bright colored fabric, as if he couldn’t possibly believe that such people could own a thing. He almost jumped over the space, begging for Maya to sell him the “rare” garment. Was he intoxicated? The girl couldn’t smell anything on his breath. She was overwhelmed as he tried to haggle for a price higher than what she priced the item before, but eventually, they came to a compromise that Maya almost couldn’t believe. The money was placed in her hands, and happily, the man walked away with the ragged dress as if he just found gold.
Before Maya could fully comprehend the recent events, her mother came out, her hair disheveled, her clothes covered in flour. Maya shared the good news with her, adding the request to take a long deserved break afterward. Her mother couldn’t say no, watching the young girl disappear into the bazaar. She knew her husband, however, wouldn’t let this news fall away without a few choice words before begrudgingly taking his post back. After all, a promise was a promise, but he wasn’t expecting her to actually sell anything, especially not for that much money.
When Maya realized that Shiri wasn’t at her normal area, she frowned. She enjoyed being around the older girl, watching her float around with her vivid colors and shining jewelry. In her own way, she was like a goddess, something untouchable and ethereal that Maya couldn’t fully comprehend. She wanted to tell her about what happened, even laugh a little. She never felt like she could laugh around her parents; everything was stiff and rigid. When Maya was around Shiri, it was like a release. Oh well, that would have to wait now. Instead, Maya headed back the other way. She had secretly kept a small amount of the profit, so maybe she could buy something nice, maybe even food. She hadn’t eaten in a while, after all.
Slowly, she made her way through the market, managing to buy an apple here, a piece of bread there, and even a bit of water. She still had a bit left. She held on to it, happy enough with her snacks. As she wiped her brow, she moved out of the crowd towards the river. It would be more peaceful there than in the midst of the masses of bodies buying and selling their wares.