Gone to Market

A patreon ‪#‎microfiction‬ for on the prompt “used car lot of souls”…

She walks into the bustle of the market, clutching a feather in her hand. She considered it wise to bring her own feather, for she has heard rumours that the ones provided by the management were unfairly weighted.

That said, if she were truly wise then she probably would not have come to this place. If she had been wise, she would not need the wares on offer at the Underworld Market.

Things are only just getting started - it is still early, barely midnight, after all - and most of the big players have yet to arrive. They like to make a splash.

A few of the sellers do still catch her eye. A grizzled crone, her cart bobbing up and down on its chicken legs, slowly stirs a cauldron and eyes up the more desperate of the customers. These are the pale and desolate ones who check their timepieces regularly and regard the crone’s pot with dry, tearless eyes.

The woman wonders, idly, what choices had brought them here and whether they were similar to *her* decisions. Then the hole that gaped in her chest began to itch; by the time she was done scratching she forgot all about them.

The woman nods to the crone and remembers a time when her dry and bony fingers reached inside the slick cavern of her chest.

“Not just a heart.” The crone had tutted and spat on her fingers to clean them. “You need a soul, dearie…”

It made sense to the woman. She had loved her wife with all her heart and soul, after all.

She waited in the market all day, as various sellers came and went. One had wings that stretched so wide they filled the whole courtyard. Another came and went unseen, but all knew of their passing by the dread which shook their bones. Another looked like a lioness in some lights and a crocodile in others and they brought no wares, but watched every cart hungrily.

Finally, just as the last dregs of night were sucked down by the dawn, a final seller wandered cheerily into the market with her wares held in the skirts of her gown.

By this time, most of the shoppers who had not found what they needed had begun to fade away like mist before the sun.

But the woman clung on, holding the feather tightly in her hand.

She approached the last seller.

“One pomegranate, please.” She held out the feather.

The seller brushed the feather against her and sighed, before placing it on a small set of scales.

She sighed again.

“This is all you can afford.”

She held out a single pomegranate seed.

“It’ll do.” Said the woman.

As she left the market, she took a handful of dirt from the graves that surrounded the market and planted the seed in her chest.

When the woman returned to the house of her wife with a tree growing from her chest, no questions were asked.

Neither of them cared whose heart or soul pulsed within them, they were simply happy to be together.