The mother held her child close, the new child, the youngest one, as she wandered through the close market. The noise surrounded her like waves washing, rocking back and forth.
“Lettuce, one dollar for a pound!” screamed the voices. “Hey there lovely lady, two dollars for this bag of broad beans!”
The mother smiled as she wandered, her hip jutting out with the child positioned just so. Testing the pineapple and smelling the mango. Broad beans for dinner? she thought, squeezing the old man beans in their flannelette pyjama cases.
“What wouldn’t you give…?” said a quiet murmuring voice. “What wouldn’t you give for silken skin like this?”
The woman looked up with her gentle questioning eyes towards the voice. The voice was from an older woman of indeterminate age, leaning into the baby, stroking the wrist of the mother’s child with the hands of experience. The mother smiled again, used to and expecting the compliments, settled into the reassurance of motherhood.
“Such skin, such skin,” the older woman murmured again, caressing the line where the arm of the child met the hand. No wrist as yet, just a line of yum, delectable and smooth. The child did not stir.
“But what would you give?” said the older woman again. This time she looked at the mother. “What would you give to have skin which doesn’t pucker and stretch, hands which never show the march of time with their pock marks and sag? What would you give to never see your breasts lose their shape and your hips disappear?”
The mother was intrigued. This was a question, a question bigger and brighter than any sales pitch in a chemist or at a cosmetic counter. What would she give?
The older woman opened her bag and showed the mother the container of cream – impossible youth, never grow old, stay just as you are, stay just there. The mother held the container on her hand, it was heavy and silver and shining with promise.
“What would you give?”
The mother handed over her child, and took the cream. It seemed a fair exchange.
TTST21 Silken Skin