Spices

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We open the stall before dawn turns the eastern sky pink. Grandfather pushes the metal door up until it disappears, and I sweep the floor and tidy the booths. The spices have spilled in the night, only a little, a dusting of red here, yellow there. I sweep them into the street and watch the colors mingle with the dust.

He tells me stories about the spices while we work. About how the gods used the turmeric to paint the sunsets yellow, how they stole a little chili pepper for the tiger lilies to make them darker. I love his stories. I’ve heard them a hundred times, a thousand, even, but I love to hear them.

Someday, he tells me, he’ll be gone, and I’ll tell the stories.

The customers come once the sun is high overhead. Grandfather rolls out the awning, sets out his chair, and fans himself. Heat rises in shimmers from the cobbled roadway, and the women come with their baskets, the men with their coins.

And the children, with their wide eyes.

The adults come to buy our spices, to hear the news from the city, but the children come for my grandfather’s stories. He tells them while he selling the cumin, the turmeric, the garlic, and the pepper. Stories of where they came from, the people he haggled with, the sights he saw. The stories are all made up, every one of them, but no one minds. They come for his stories as much as the spices, and I listen hard. Someday, I will sell the spices. Someday, the stories will be mine.

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