I used one of the writing prompt web sites to get a random list of words for today’s story (the words were: little boy, torn page, market, cart).
To market, to market
Bobby looked down at the torn piece of paper in his hand. The letters were in cursive, which made them hard to read. He sighed, a deep sigh to come from such a little boy.
He probably should have listened more carefully to what his grandmother had been saying. He was pretty sure that it had dealt with what he was supposed to get from the market. Of course, she had written it down for him, that was what the paper was, a page torn out of the notebook she kept in her pocket. It was a list of three things.
Briefly, he considered turning his little cart around and going back home to ask her what it said. He discarded that idea quickly, knowing she would only be angry with him, frustrated at his inattention. It was the same thing as at school where Mrs Waters would just look at him and shake her head and say that she wondered what he would make of himself as an adult.
No, the only thing to do was soldier on, as his dad used to say before he moved away out west to work. He was not exactly sure what he would do when he got to the market, but he would figure that out when the time came.
It was not a long walk. They lived on the very edge of town. Other houses on one side of them, farmers’ fields on the other. They didn’t farm, not anymore. His grandmother had told Bobby about what it had been like before, when they didn’t just have the farmhouse, but a farm. Before the bank took it away.
Bobby didn’t understand that bit. When he had asked for clarification his grandmother had said it was complicated and farming was expensive. That didn’t make sense to him, as they paid the farmers for food, but the tone of his grandmother’s voice was such that he knew that it was not worth pursuing.
The market was not large. It was only there three days a week and stalls had been set up by eight or ten different vendors. Bobby paused at the edge of the square and considered the paper again. It kind of looked like the first word started with a ‘t’. That was probably tomatoes then. He wondered how many he should get. He really should had listened. His stomach ached. He just knew he was going to get the wrong things, in the wrong amounts and his grandmother was going to be very angry.
How could he get out of this?
An idea popped into his head. It might work.
He turned around and left the market area of town, heading back towards home. About halfway there he pulled his wagon to the edge of the road. Taking a deep breath, he threw himself down into the shallow ditch beside the road. He rolled around in the dry dust, rubbing it well into his clothes. Then he sat up and made sure to get some on his face and arms, a good amount in his hair. He noticed he had a few scratches from the rocks on his arms now. That was perfect.
He got up and climbed out. Picking up the cart handle, he continued home.
“Grandmother,” he called in what he hoped was a ragged voice as he pushed open the gate to their yard.
“Bobby! What happened?” Instead of anger or annoyance, her voice was suffused with concern.
“Those boys a-a-again…,” he stammered. Only last week he had been beaten up by a couple of the other boys who got off at the same bus stop as him after school.
“Oh no! Are you okay? Come in, let me clean you up.”
He followed slowly behind her, with only the slightest sense of guilt.