We listen to an mp3 of Barbara Streisand singing "I Stayed Too Long at the Fair."
It was the flute. That's why I slipped away from my mother in the little town square. We were right across from Woolworth's, and the men in the bandstand were getting ready to play another march: they were all raising their horns. I knew if I didn't go right then, the loud music would cover up the magical sounds that must be just around the corner, and anyway it was a small town, so why not just go?
Every corner I turned led me farther away from the town centre, but there was just something about that music. I remember wondering vaguely why there weren't crowds of kids following along.
And then there it was, in a grass field just outside of town, a spray of twirlins skirts, fiddles and flutes, a banjo and a stand-up bass, and a man calling steps.
"Look, there's room in this set!" The lady who called me over was laughing.
And then of course I was dancing. I thought I recognised a boy I might have met once across the circle, but nobody else I knew was there. After a while, it was all a blue. Any time I felt I might want a little rest, somebody would pull me into a new set and there woul be nothing but tune and movement. Once i looked out and saw it had gone dark. Then it was light again, but I wsn't tired; I marvelled that the musicians never seemed to take a break.
Some time later, it seemed to me the trees had changed shape, and the corners of the field seemed to shrink. The last thing I remember is asking for something to drink. A lady gave me a lemonade, and it tasted like my mother's lemonade, and then all of a sudden I wondered if she missed me. Then I woke up here.
It sounds crazy, I know. My mother doesn't live in our house any more. It's a shop. Our house is a shop. Nobody will tell me what happened. In place of the bandstand there's a fountain and some kind of war memorial. Woolworth's is gone. And I'm cold. I only want to find my mother; she must be worried about me. She made this dress, for my sister, last year. On her new sewing machine. Why is our house a shop?
Assignment: We are shown a picture of a black glove left on a set of steps. There are a bunch of questions to answer about the glove, but, um, I ignored them all. ;)
Lady dropped a black glove on the stairs on her way out. She won't be back for hours, and anyway, it doesn't matter. Bell snatched it before she was all the way into her posh taxi. Bell's my errand boy, and he's an idiot, but he knows how to snatch things. Folks don't see him. They don't see anybody, really, big city like this.
Great, I said. That's two left gloves tonight. Better come up with some right ones; folks' hands gonna get cold.
Yes boss, he says. Probably some right-handed guy trying to unlock his door right now, except I'm sitting here listening to you go on about cold right hands instead of out looking for it.
I motioned him back out into the night. Folks coming home from dinners out about now. You be there. Market don't run without nothing to sell.
As a matter of fact, I did have a right glove. Almost exactly matched this one too, if you didn't mind a little more wear on one cuff than the other, one glove a little less shiny, that sort of thing. Winter was just around the corner though; couldn't keep them for myself when there was money to be made and stuff to be traded.
Bell came back after midnight with three broken umbrellas, two working umbrellas, a jar of perfectly good mayonnaise, a length of satin cord, four right gloves and one more left one, and, a find he saved for last, presumably to impress me, a garnet must have fallen out of somebody's earring. Too small for a ring, he said, unless Mister was poor. We laughed about that: some poor girl crying over a lost garnet the size of a caraway seed.
That'll get us some bacon tomorrow, won't it? Bell would tradejust about anything for bacon.
Yes, and half a dozen eggs, plus some fuel for the gas fire, I said. Winter's coming, people need gloves.
And garnets, Bell said.