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African Diaspora Art Fiction Urban Life

Spinach

Image by Michael 1952 via Flickr
This being her second visit to the grocery store, with its blinding fluorescent light and constant A/C, she came prepared. The wool sweater, a gift from her best friend back in Nairobi, smells of incense and coal, the scent of safe secrets, closeness, and familiarity. Its fabric caresses her chin as she exhales a memory not far away in time, but distant in space. She looks around to see if others, too, had their breaths and dreams crystallized for a brief moment and ruthlessly stolen again and again as they aimlessly rummaged for deals on frozen dinners.

She used to anticipate talking and touching vegetables; a cabbage in the palm of her hand, its aroma sharing stories of sun and soil. “Best One!” the boy-seller cajoled, regardless of her selection. She kissed teeth; he smiled. The first time she brought a cantaloupe to her nose in Toronto, the entire display cascaded onto the floor, causing everyone to stare, which made her feel small.

Today, she was on a mission and briskly walked to the produce section. She picked up a plastic container of spinach, leaflets cut from the roots and incarcerated in a cold transparent cell. She abandoned the idea of being able to feel, to brush her hands across living surfaces. She had to trust what the new gods declared; that all these packages are uniform and that uniformity is good. Trust that since it says “Triple-filtered wash,” that the machines prepped it like how Bibi did back home. Word is bond.

In the express cash, she pulled out a five dollar bill. “$4.99 plus tax, ma’am,” said the cashier.

She didn’t have enough.

By Chris Vaughn

Chris Vaughn is an Afrikan Montrealer that researches, retells, and reimagines the beautifully complex relations that his black people(s) have with the environment. He then takes an extended lunch hour to arrange his thoughts and visions into short stories. Check out the results at blackgreens.com.