A happy face with sad eyes, she sat on a regal cushion, purple and gold, well worn but not abused. We could not walk further, even though our parents chided us and eventually they wandered off to look at the next booth or purchase an elephant ear to entice us, but we took root.
She never spoke, but told us our life stories through the notes of her flute, reading them like tea leaves in the dregs of our inmost parts. She was sex, before we really understood it, beyond the magazines hidden on the shelf beneath the next to last white towel in my uncle's bathroom.
Long fingered, she danced them up and down the wooden length and before her snakes grew in size and obeyed each unspoken command as if their lives depended on it. When she stopped, they coiled limp in the bottom of a wicker basket awaiting her following breath.
On break, she sat silent, selling nothing, but taking everything, without ever having to fondle a purse strap. Money collected in a little cup, as she unsheathed a tapered blade and stripped a pear, its skin dangling in one long spiral.
Cubing the flesh, she gave a piece to each in the huddled mass and with her free hand bid us eat, so we would never forget. It melted on our tongues sticky as honey and sweeter than anything I have since eaten. My parents found me then, taking my arm and leading me away, home.
Stealing back to the fair the following day, the grass lay pressed to the earth, but only bits of trash, tucked here and there by the wind, riddled the place she had sat. Hints of her song, clinged to the cool breeze.
That Sunday, Pastor pulled out the fire and brimstone, teaching from Nehemiah on guarding the gates. As we left, he stood by the door shaking hands with a smile on his face, but his sad eyes told me, he, too, knew, and wished it had been grace.
Written for Magpie Tales.